I’ve been studying journalism for 3 months now but I’m starting to wonder if the course will ever help me to be a travel writer?
Journalism is a strange topic to study. It feels a bit like reading a text book to become a chef. Is it really something that can be taught in a classroom?
Journalism is something you learn by getting out there and doing it, learning from your mistakes and just giving it a go. It’s a bit like travelling in that sense; no matter how many tips, advice articles or travel guides you read, the best travel knowledge is the knowledge you pick up through travelling.
Times are tough and in a competitive industry like travel journalism, having a qualification behind you can’t hurt…but can it help?
The qualification is almost compulsory for anyone wanting to be a newspaper journalist reporting crimes and local events, but what about me? I want to be a travel writer and can studying journalism help me?
I’m only a couple of months into my course so I don’t know the answer yet but here’s how it’s helping me so far and there’s some skills that can I can transfer onto my blog.
This is something that all writers and bloggers should work on. It’s basically the skill of getting as much information into as few words as possible. It teaches you not to waste a word and make every phrase work hard. This really applies to online journalism where readers want their information quickly and without a long, rambling speech.
As a travel blogger, I never really feel the need to ‘investigate’. I write about the things around me that I enjoy but I rarely dig below the surface to see what else there is. Digging out the dirt is the sole purpose of most journalists and it’s something we’re encouraged to do. We’re told to chat to everyone we can, taught how to make them feel comfortable enough to give away that big secret and taught to look in every nook and cranny to find it.
I’ll no longer be satisfied with descriptive prose about ‘beautiful rolling mountains’, I’ll now be looking for something extra.
I don’t mean I want to catch people out and unveil their nasty truths; I’ll just be looking for something a little more interesting than the beautiful pictures and wax lyrical descriptions the guide books provide us with.
Some other things I’ve noted since doing my journalism course:
People take me more seriously
When I tell people I’m studying journalism they know I mean business. They know I want to write professionally and this ultimately leads to more opportunities and makes it easier to get started.
It’s all about who you know
This is a really depressing fact but it’s so true. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best writer in the world, if you don’t know anyone who can give you a little leg up then you’re going to be struggling on the bottom rung of the ladder for a long time. I’m not saying it will be impossible, it’ll just take a bit longer.
The people who are doing well on my course have got work experience placements at the top newspapers and magazines and networked, networked and networked some more. The same applies for travel blogging; since moving to London and socialising with other bloggers I’ve had more opportunities come my way and I’ve learnt so much about the industry.
The art of writing for online audiences is changing so quickly, is there really anything we can study in order to be better at it? Google offer SEO courses and I’m sure I’m not the only one with an email junk box full of ‘Increase your traffic with this simple trick…’
Is it time we got out of the classroom and into the real world and learnt from real life experiences? Possibly. But I’m hoping that a qualification will help push me up to the first rung of the ladder.
I’m also working as an editorial intern with Gap Daemon which is giving me more experience and skills in the industry. I’ll be talking more about what I’m actually doing later in the week. I also have a guest post from Will Peach from Gap Daemon about how other people in my situation can make the most out of travel internships.