The Guardian – My Big Break in Journalism

April 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Media & Copywriting


A rare deviation. This article is not written by me, rather I am a part of it giving career advice to aspiring journalists for an article in the Guardian.

My Big Break in Journalism: Writers Reveal their Routes into the Media

What does it take to get a journalism career started? A handful of high profile reporters tell Jack Oughton how they got their foot in the door, and offer advice for budding journalists

Keen to find out what the journalists and writers that I look up to did to get to where they are today, I devised a mini career questionnaire and sent a few tweets and emails to get some answers. I asked: what’s the one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring journalists? What was the most important thing you did for your career? And, what is good journalism to you? Here are some highlights from what they had to say.

[Cut to my section. I don’t have rights to republish in its entirety.]

Gordon Kelly is a writer and journalist specialising in technology, music and film. He works freelance as a features writer for TrustedReviews, the BBC and Wired, produces internal magazines for a number of major companies and teaches courses in media relations

“Remember the 5 Ws [who, what, where, when, why]. It is basic, but how you order information is fundamental to better writing. If I’m allowed a second: don’t be afraid to say you don’t understand. Journalists spend their time talking to specialists. Better to ask a question at the time than feel foolish in print later on.

At my first job my editor made me write nothing but NIBs (news in brief) for the first week. NIBs could be no shorter than 23 words and no longer than 27 words. The lesson was crucial: quickly identify what is and isn’t important and work out what is the heart of the story. Now being able to see the hook of a story, feature or editorial is arguably my biggest strength. To this day if I’m struggling with something I try to summarise it in 23 to 27 words.

[Good journalism is] stories that engage. Different industries and different titles will have a huge influence on what and how you can write, but from these boundaries I think it is important to convey to the reader: ‘this is why you should care’. From cats stuck in trees to front page news, if you don’t care about what you write, why should anyone else?”

Read the entire article here with further advice from the likes of Guardian Technology Editor Charles Arthur, renowned freelance journalist Elizabeth Pears, BGR executive editor Zach EpsteinTom Warren – Senior News Editor at The Verge and founder of WinRumors, Guardian Money editor Hilary Osborne and Dan Raywood, online news editor for SC Magazine.


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