Local newspaper journalism – what we found surprising:

Here are some of the things we found surprising when we attended an event and listened to someone who worked as a journalist for local newspapers:

– There are still some trainee vacancies, despite real contractions in the numbers of staff who work within the sector

– How short journalist’s timescales really are: one journalist who said they have 15 minutes to get their article submitted after an event: they type most of the content on their smartphone during the event then just make a few changes and submit it straight after

– The number of hours many journalists actually work: according to the speaker 75 hour weeks aren’t uncommon – journalists must really love their job!

– The importance of shorthand: newspaper editors like people who have a shorthand speed of 100 words per minute

– The usefulness of a post graduate journalism course: as long as it’s one valued by the newspaper industry – (not all courses are viewed as equal – see: http://bit.ly/12LdRrr)

– It’s fairly straightforward to move around as a journalist once you’re in: many start in newspapers then move into magazines or TV

Top tips for aspiring journalists (from speakers at the event):

– Use every opportunity to showcase your writing and reporting skills e.g. get involved in any University publications, volunteer and try to gain as much experience as possible

– Maintaining a blog will prove your dedication to writing, enhance your CV and impress potential employers and can be really useful if you apply for postgraduate journalism courses

– Journalists need a wide range of skills: honing your skills in photography, social media and the creation and editing of online content (including video and audio content as well as articles) will help you impress employers

– Be prepared to be flexible when approaching newspaper publishers or taking part in work experience; most titles expect staff to cover a wide range of subjects rather than just their favourite one

– Create an ideas scrapbook with interesting clippings from a range of newspapers as well as creating your own portfolio: having your own ideas will help you get off to a good start when talking to editors or taking part in work experience

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