media update’s Jenna Cook guides you through what it takes to make it as a journalist.

What’s in a name? It means many different things to many different people; it also depends on who you ask. And if you were to ask someone within the media industry (I’m talking about your reporters, journalists and editors) you’ll soon learn that the name maketh the person.

Here are five steps you can follow to make a name for yourself in the world of journalism:

1. Earn your degree

A key step to establishing your name as a journalist is to pay your dues by studying – whether it’s a journalism, communications or language degree, obtaining that accreditation will put you one step ahead of the rest.

It’s also a good idea to pick a major that will help you learn about a specific type of field within the industry – for example, broadcast or investigative journalism. That way you’ll have a more in depth understanding of your chosen field as well as a good idea of the broader industry landscape.

Remember that, although beneficial, it’s not always necessary; you can still work as a journalist without a degree and be very successful – but it does make finding work much easier.

2. Cultivate your writing skills and style

It’s important to work on your writing ability by writing about a range of subjects and across various platforms – especially if journalism isn’t something you’ve studied.

Wondering how you do this? There are many ways to hone your skills, but the easiest would be to start your own blog where you can experiment with your style as a writer, or become a freelance writer and learn how to perfect your craft . This will not only help you to build up your portfolio but also allow you to make connections in the world of journalism.

3. Create connections within the industry

The best way to connect to reporters, journalists and editors is to approach them. Either online, or in-person – if the opportunity presents itself. This may sound daunting but it doesn’t have to be. Simply reach out to the people you admire and ask them for advice, ask if they have time to chat or if you could possibly intern for them.

Journalism, and the media industry in general, is in the business of establishing relationships. This means that even respected names in the game are still looking for talent that they can connect with.

4. Intern with a newspaper, magazine or media company

Jenna Goudreau, a writer for Forbes, says, ”Journalism is a doing field. At the end of the day, you need to be able to talk to people, see trends, organise your research and communicate it in an engaging way.”

And the best way to learn how to do that is by actually working in the field. So do your best to secure an internship at a media agency that you respect. The experience you gain from working, feeling the pressure and making professional connections will be a fantastic foundation for your career.

5. Stay committed to the industry and be consistent in your work

In order to be a respected journalist, you’ll need to be accurate, trusted and realistic. And the best way to make that possible is by consistently working to dig up the facts, only telling true stories – or be able to admit when they’re false – and ensure that you never exaggerate facts for the sake of a ‘good’ story.

Consistency isn’t the only thing you’ll need. You also need to be committed to the industry by going the extra mile every day to upskill yourself and bring truth to every story you write. There will come a time when you don’t see the value of your work or you’re no longer enjoying the industry. That’s the time to remind yourself why you chose journalism in the first place.

Want to stay up to date with the latest news? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Exceptional content is hard to find – and even harder to write. Transform your content from drab to fab with our golden rules for creating exceptional content
*Image courtesy of Wikimedia