If You Want a Job in Journalism, Stick to the Facts


As a newspaper and magazine editor I’ve seen a lot of work from self-styled ‘freelance writers’ who are desperate to see their names in print. When I was employing journalists to work in my department at a metropolitan newspaper I would trawl through the mountain of applications for any advertised job, and look at the standard of the application. I would cut out those applicants who presented with spelling or grammar mistakes (often more than fifty per cent). Then I would look closely at the cover letter to see if it clearly and concisely told the story of why the applicant wanted the job and what they would bring to it – then get rid of half those applications because they waffled on too much. The people who met the criteria for an interview were requested to bring along a news story that they had written. It was this piece of writing that got them to the next stage. At interview, and if I thought they had any chance of getting the job, I would ask them to write a news story. They were given the facts and put in a room with a computer and asked to write up the story as a news piece ready for that night’s printing of the next day’s newspaper or that day’s internet news. More details please visit:-laksegutta.no zoom8.no husnesnett.no iotech.no elektronikkshop.no gofot.no tipsshop.no

So, I would have the initial piece of writing and the surprise piece to get a feel not only for the candidate’s writing style but to gauge their ability to write under pressure and to deadline, the way that journalists do every day. The candidate who could bring me a clear, concise, factual news piece would ultimately win the job. Out of perhaps 100 candidates for the job, there may be two people who could deliver a piece of writing to the specifications. The rest were what I call ‘the sun is shining, the birds are singing’ pieces that didn’t stick to the facts and added a lot of superfluous words to pad out the story.

This may seem harsh, some may say, but in fact it’s reality. Journalists deal with busy editors and difficult conditions every day and if you aren’t tough enough to handle the pressure then you’d better find another profession.

The lesson here is that a news story, a good piece of journalism, relies on the facts being presented in a coherent way, without opinion. Journalists should present the news as it happens and leave the reader to make his or her own judgement. You need to write the what, where, when, who and possibly why and how (if it is known) and not editorialise.

One of the things I detest about the current style of some television news programs is the amount of emotion that is put into every story. The news anchors and reporters get so caught up in sympathising with the victims of the news piece that it detracts from the story and becomes irritating for the viewing audience.


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