When it comes to building a career in journalism, it’s more about what you’ve done than it is about how much time you’ve spent studying. In this industry, it’s about what you’ve written, what you’ve published, and how big your online following is, rather than about which college you’ve attended.
So without further ado, here is how you can start preparing for and building your journalism and media career while studying from home:
In the world of new media, blogging to a large extent replaced traditional print journalism. We’re not, however, referring to those ‘Dear diary’-style personal blogs that many people write, but to actual instances of professional online journalism. There are hundreds of serious money-making blogs out there. And all the biggest newspapers and magazines now run successful blogs alongside their usual print publications.
So start promoting yourself as a serious blogger. Studying via distance learning, you have no excuse not to! Start by blogging for free in your free time, until you’ve built up the repertoire, reputation, and experience to start blogging for a legitimate online publication or media outlet.
Remember: Online media is diverse, which means that you can write on almost any topic you’re passionate about. Who knows, you might even turn this into a full-time or freelance career for yourself!
Distance learning gives you the freedom to determine your own study schedule. You aren’t tied down to class-times at all. As a journalist, this freedom is extremely valuable, as it allows you to go out and find stories, look for interesting people to talk to, and explore your city! Or if you want to become a travel journalist, you can go on an adventure without having to worry about missing class.
Remember: A good story is all about finding that unique angle or perspective from which to tell it. And the best way to find this angle is by going out and looking for it.
Start networking on social media
While you might use Facebook for fun, social media is a serious business in media and journalism. The number of Twitter followers you have counts almost as much as your journalism qualification when applying for a job in the media industry. Think of it this way: When a media outlet hires someone with 1 million Twitter followers, they automatically gain 1 million new readers. Consequently, famous bloggers, vloggers, or Twitter personalities are often headhunted by media companies because of their large social media followings.
So start dedicating some time and effort to building your online audience. Focus on the following channels:
Remember: Social networking is only useful if you actively build a dedicated and loyal audience, which actually takes some hard work on your part. It doesn’t help if you just browse your Facebook news feed the whole day.
Start networking professionally
While gaining a social following and dedicated readership on Facebook, Twitter, and other channels is important, you also need to start building a professional network. This will help you get your foot in the door at many media companies.
There are countless places online where you can start this process, the most prominent being LinkedIn. Here you can easily connect with professionals in journalism and media, get to know key industry role-players, participate in online discussions, and even organise a job for yourself. Another great place is Bizcommunity, a media industry portal that allows you to connect with companies, find jobs, set up a CV, and even upload a work portfolio.
Do your own research
Even if you are studying full-time at the best university in the world, when it comes to journalism, you will never learn everything you need to know by going to class. Some of the most important things you will only learn through experience and through doing your own additional research. So spend time looking for, and reading, interesting books, articles, magazines, and blogs. And find ways to put into practice that which you read.
As a part-time distance learning student, you will have plenty of time to focus on supplementing your studies with your own reading and research, instead of being bogged down by constant class work.
Remember: Do not focus only on resources for journalists, but also on resources for copywriters, screenwriters, media professionals, novelists, and academics. This will place you way above those who only know what they’ve been taught at college.
Start learning additional skills
These days, you need to be more than just a writer to become a journalist. With all the new media platforms out there, journalism has truly turned into a multifaceted multimedia profession. So try to learn how to:
- Do photography
- Do basic videography
- Build or edit a website
- Use Excel, PowerPoint, and other office software
- Implement basic SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
- Do audio recording and editing
Another great skill to have is knowing how to use Adobe Photoshop, or any other photo editing and design tools, for that matter. You will often see this (and those skills listed above) included in the “The following skills will be an advantage” section of any media or journalism job description.
It is seldom that you will find full employment in journalism as a fresh graduate. More often than not, you will first need to work as an intern to build industry experience. However, all of the points noted above will help you get a significant head start in your career in media or journalism, and may even help you land a full-time job in the media industry.
So get the training you need in journalism and media via distance learning, while you start building your career before you’ve even finished studying!
Oxbridge Academy offers skills development courses in Journalism and Media via distance learning. To find out more about studying Journalism and Media from home with Oxbridge Academy, click here.