Tips and advice on how to become a professional Journalist supplied by Simon Rothstein, Online Showbiz Editor for The Sun

  1. Get work experience – The best way to learn the job is by doing the job. And many journalists start life at their chosen publication on work experience and never leave. When starting out try and get a variety of experiences – ask your local paper and radio station, as well as any websites or magazines you’re fond of.
  2. Never be afraid to ask – If you want work experience or a full-time job somewhere find out the editor’s name and send him/her an email. The worst they can say is no and editors admire a direct approach.
  3. Get qualified – Although experience is more important, publications will be looking for the basic legal training, a knowledge of shorthand and the ability to write a clear concise story. The NCTJ is the industry standard and the cheapest course to do, don’t even bother looking elsewhere.
  4. Make contacts – Journalism is one profession that is definitely as much about who you know as what you know. Stories don’t come from thin air but on the other hand one front page splash from an exclusive contact can make a career.
  5. Be friendly – This applies to every job. No one likes to work with someone they don’t like personally.
  6. Don’t be precious – Everyone has to start by reporting on the local cat up a tree or knocking on doors. Do it with a smile on your face and think of better things to come.
  7. Be prepared to work all hours – I’ve filed stories from weddings, holidays and my sick bed. If you have a good story never wait.
  8. Know your publication – If you’re not already a reader before you work somewhere, make sure you’re an avid fan by the first day. There’s nothing worse than a journalist who doesn’t know their publication or comes up with stories/features that have already been done.
  9. Learn the house style – Does your publication spell out numbers or use figures? Do they put quotes around song titles? Do they use capital letters for job titles? Make a note and remember for each story you write.
  10. Have a good grasp of English – Saving the most obvious tip until last. Being able to write your story correctly is just as important as being able to get it in the first place.

Tips and advice on how to become a professional Journalist supplied by Simon Rothstein, 29, Online Showbiz Editor for The Sun.