On the 22nd of November Benji Lanyado who works as a travel writer at The Guardian was kind enough to take us on a tour of the paper’s headquarters near Kings Cross in central London.

During the tour we spoke with three editors; Joanna Geary, Digital Developments Editor; Ian Prior, Sports Editor; and David Shariatmadari, Deputy Editor of Comment is Free . They gave us some very informative advice and I was inspired but if I’m honest I also left the building a little scared.

Becoming a journalist is going to be hard. Really hard.

I can hear the voices of an assembled crowd of beleaguered working men and women ringing out across the internet even now “what did you expect you fool? Of course it’s going to be hard. Life is hard.”  But blissful ignorance is a wonderful state to be in and as a 17 year old boy I have something of a monopoly on the market for it. So, despite the fact that it was a little immature, I was rather enjoying holding an aspiration to write based mainly on the end goals as opposed to the means, without taking my thoughts very far beyond “I’ll do a bit of blogging” and “I’ll do something with lots of writing in at University”. Clearly I was in serious need of some frank advice.

Time to ponder...

 

Tip Number One: Nothing comes easy, if you want to succeed you need to graft at your writing and get yourself ‘out there’ on a regular basis by blogging ALL THE TIME.

Tip Number Two: Behave a bit like a rather annoying child constantly pestering Mum and Dad for attention, just a very tech and media savy one who knows the emails and addresses of all the editors, publications and other writers that they like. Much like the annoying child you will follow and erm, email(?) them all the time, kids really are advanced these days. Anyway you get the idea, you need to be sending your work to relevant people all the time as well as networking with your peers. Or as Joanna described it “you need to be a passionate stalker”.

Tip Number Three: Don’t be afraid of rejection and keep self belief. No returns on your emails doesn’t mean your rubbish it just means you need to keep trying and trying…and trying again until someone somewhere decides your worth a second look.

Tip Number Four: Your blog needs to be niche. Every newspaper already has enough politics, sports and current affairs writers to be going on with, you need to be THE person to come to on a certain topic that others are unlikely to specialise in.

Tip Number Five: Passion is a must. That niche you’ve found can’t be filled by someone who isn’t interested in what they’re talking about. You need to have a passion for your subject otherwise you won’t keep up regular posting.

Tip Number Six: Talent. Without a talent for the written word you really are a bit stuffed, it’s that simple. Uh-oh!

It seems I was rather affected by what we heard:

Silly photos aside, these tips are great and I feel as though they’re going to serve me well. A massive thank you is in order to Joanna, Ian, David and Benji, I really appreciated the advice. Of course I can’t help but feel daunted by the prospect of trying to make it into a sector with very little certainty of work and career progression. But then journalism isn’t just about the positive, it is about the negative too and that, although not exclusively, is what draws me to it.

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