How to get a job in journalism

30 Aug

There is no easy answer to the question, “How do you get a journalism job”. I wish there was. I started in journalism 30 years ago when the choices were much simpler. In the early Eighties, the choice was between print or broadcast. I chose broadcast, but ended up working in print and I’m now the TV Editor on the Sunday Express in London. How did I get my first job?

It wasn’t easy. My very first writing job was with a radio station in the central NSW town of Orange. I lived in the nearby town of Bathurst where I was attending college. We were encouraged to seek freelance work as “stringers”. This is a local freelance reporter. I rang the “news director” at the station to ask if I could be the local stringer for Bathurst. He said he would “give me a go”. My job, one day a week, was to buy the local Bathurst newspaper in the early hours of the morning, find the best story, and then write a radio report for the Orange radio station, called 2GZ. I generally had about half an hour to do this, after buying the paper. It was all a bit helter skelter. I would hastily write the story before reading it down the telephone line as a radio report. It was a great experience. I eventually used a reference from this once a week job to get my first proper job.
Initially, the best policy is to think locally. Try to find experience on any local publication, or website, where you can make contact with someone in person. Meeting someone, face to face, is the best way to impress them with your enthusiasm and hunger to be a journalist.
In my course, I write about “determination & dedication”. These are qualities that will make you both a good journalist, and give you the ability to find a job. News editors and editors will see this quality immediately. Success in journalism comes from self-starters, those who can see a story and make it work.
You will be pleased to learn, however, that you can make your own luck in journalism. Persistence counts for much. Do not give up. Keep pushing. But also offer something to those you are annoying for a post, or work experience. Tell them a story you would like to research. Give them a lead.

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How to interview a celebrity

3 Oct

How to interview a celebrity
I’m the TV Editor on the Sunday Express and I interview celebrities every week. In general terms, they are very friendly though it can sometimes get sticky if you roam into areas which they don’t like. Here are 5 ways to ensure you get the best interview from a celebrity every time.

1) Polite and friendly approach
Whether your interview is face to face, or over the telephone, or indeed in a “round table” set up with other journalists, politeness is the key to a good chat. In Britain, we have famous interrogators on the television such Jeremy Paxman. Under no circumstances, should you approach an interview in this way. You will get nowhere. I have seen celebrities in round table situations stiffen up immediately upon sensing an aggressive style. Obviously there is a place for this, but not when discussing a cosy period drama with a young actress. If face to face with your talent, smile and engage the talent and try to strike a rapport before you turn on the recorder. If taking notes, make sure you look at the talent, too, otherwise you won’t connect. And look INTERESTED even if you’re not!

2) Stick to the boundaries
PRs and press agent now listen to most interviews as they take place as a matter of course. On some occasions with noted celebrities you may find yourself with as many as five other staff connected with the talent in the same room. Their job? To protect the talent. Each interview will have some agreed boundaries. The discussion may be very informal. Stick to it or the interview is likely to be terminated. Indeed you may not even get the access unless you agree to disclose exactly what you want to talk about. Don’t get cross about it. Just work with it. PRs and minders are a fixture on the media landscape and you must learn to work with them.

3) Bullet points
It’s that simple. Eight to 10 should do the trick. You should think these up while you’re doing your research, such as looking at newspaper cuttings or reading stories on the Internet. In a way, these are thoughts rather than outright questions. If you like, they are subject headings that you can expect to come up during the course of the interview. If they don’t, the bullet points are there to jog your memory. If it is an audio interview, for radio or for the interview, you can glance quickly at them and move seamlessly to the next subject. So obviously don’t make the points too detailed on your pad. You want to digest it and move on quickly. Try not to ask questions which only solicit a one word answer. This will make it a very long interview for both concerned!

4) Listen!
Again, this is stating the bleeding obvious. Or is it? So many times as an interviewer you can be concentrating on what you next need to ask, and completely miss a new thread to the interview. This is a bad habit of mine. Listen, listen, listen! The best practice for interviewing, apart from doing it over and over, is to do it without questions prepared whatsoever. This is often the case for news interviews, where you are put on the spot immediately. It makes you listen.

5) Don’t be a fan

Difficult not to be too starstruck, indeed nervous when first meeting a celebrity. Thankfully, you have a job to do, which tends to distance you from the star sitting in front of you. The interviewee is simply a person telling you a story, from which you need to get your own story, your own angle. That will concentrate the mind, if nothing else!

Download my journalism books from Amazon. They include an ebook series on How to be a Journalist

James Corden Matt Smith Doctor Who

24 Sep

Always a treat to talk to Matt Smith, this time on the set in Cardiff. Here he chats, among other things, about whether it’s possible to change the innate character of the Doctor. And James Corden, too. Wouldn’t he make a great permanent assistant?

Matt smith dr who

James corden dr who

Salary Packages after Pursuing Journalism Courses (via Mass Communication College in India)

20 Apr

Some interesting thoughts on salary packages in India

Sample one of my journalism ebooks for free on Amazon

Salary Packages after Pursuing Journalism Courses Today, Journalism Course is one of the most popular courses amongst the students as it brings many career options. Journalism is the investigation and reports of issues, events and trends to a broad audience. The job profile of a journalist includes in providing proper interesting information to the people. The salary package of journalist depends upon a lot of factors. If you have just started your Career in Journalism, you can earn a good salar … Read More

via Mass Communication College in India

Bt Vision

2 Jul

It’s worthy of a spread bet: BT versus Sky. If you were a bookmaker it’s a mouth-watering encounter. Two British companies thumping it out for the sake of the British sports fan. Well, so they say. It’s laudable and we appreciate it. In one corner is Sky who have a stranglehold on the sports TV market with the majority of rights for anything decent i.e. Football, rugby and cricket. Then along comes new upstart player BT who think it’s wrong that Sky have such a monopoly. The regulators agree and force Sky to offer their content to BT Vision, their pay TV service. Half of all people surveyed said they would take up BT Vision if there were sports. Let’s wait and see. So the Sky Sports packages are now available and if you’re already a BT Broadband customer it’s a good deal and cheaper than Sky depending on just how much sport you would like to watch. The BT pitch is that as a Sky customer with a sports package there are many other channels you simply don’t want. Makes sense.
My initial view was that it was wrong for BT to be allowed this content since they hadn’t originally paid for the rights. But now I’ve come around to the punters’ view: get prices down. There’s too much money in rights anyway and it doesn’t help us win a World Cup, or a Champions League final (it may have helped with the Ashes). So good luck to BT; the long suffering British sports fan is with you all the way. The man with the vision behind BT Vision is Marc Watson. He has great belief in this service, which will also be incorporated in Project Canvas next year. That’s the new BBC-driven, Broadband TV service about which you will hear many things over the next six months. Here’s my chat with Watson, CEO of BT Vision, from whom you will hear much in the next six months too.
And yes I declare an interest. I already have Sky Sports.

David Stephenson\’s TV blog

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Martina Navratilova “walks out”

30 Jun

Martina Navratilova staying put on BBC News

Sports types have a particular aura. It’s not something spiritual, just a definitive sense of who they are. So it is with Martina Navratilova whom I met in Wimbledon – the local cinema, not the All England Club – where she was promoting a new film on ESPN about her long-term friendship with Chris Evert. The paradox of the documentary is great rivals on the court, but off the court they could talk about everything. When you talk to Martina, you encounter a warm, funny and sometimes self-deprecating woman, but also a woman who, bizarrely, doesn’t like to talk about British tennis. Ooh no. Listen at the end of the interview when I broach the subject. Did she “walk out”? Well, she made it very aware that the interview was over and walked away to sign posters and that was it. I didn’t even get a, “Missing you already”. I’m blaming Andy Murray of course.
Putting that aside, the film itself is a departure for a sports doc. It’s focussed on the personal story of these two women. Incredible rivals of the court, but close friends in the locker room. For the record, Martina has the bragging rights in one-to-one contests in grand slams. Here is the Q & A in the cinema, together with my interview. The film goes out in October 2010 in the UK, but sooner in the States. Hannah Storm is chairing the session, and produced the film too.

The interview

David Stephenson\’s TV blog

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london to brighton cycle ride

28 Jun

A break from the TV agenda, to let you see a “photo-essay” on a wonderful day raising money for the British Heart Foundation. One of the things about the day is that it’s a “ride” and not a race. People ride too fast, yes, but that definitely doesn’t include us. We left at 7am, and arrived at 5.30pm. I was thinking of phoning ahead for a B&B. We also stop far too often, obviously allowing our muscles to cool down inviting injury and the prospect of pulling in for another pit-stop. It’s a wonderful, sociable day, with terrific support from locals along the way. It will surprise you.

I heartily recommend the ride to anyone.

#l2b first stop and the climb begins. It's warming up on Twitpic

Three of the crew. Tilt sideways to view

#l2b Seventies combo reform for one last gig on Twitpic

Seventies combo reform for one last gig

#l2b done Ditchling. Great feeling on Twitpic

Top of Ditchling Beacon, with Jane, Andy and Jeremy

#l2b a kind soul gives up their back garden at base of Ditchl... on Twitpic

Kind soul gives up their back garden at base of Ditchling Beacon

#l2b the brass band Turners Hill. What lovely people @bhf on Twitpic

The brass band Turners Hill. What lovely people

#l2b traffic jam on Twitpic

Early traffic jam. Chance for a pic!

#l2b it takes all sorts. It's hardly banner from heaven @bhf on Twitpic

Not banner from heaven admittedly, but the "love story" of the day

#l2b eat your heart out Wiggins! on Twitpic

Eat your heart out Wiggins!

#l2b and chocolate cake which will have profound effects on d... on Twitpic

Jeremy defies current thinking about calorie intake