A-Z guide to journalism

From top tips to the golden rules of reporting, here is our A-Z guide to journalism.

A is for accuracy – Informing the public is one of the most important tasks for journalists, so it’s vital articles are completely accurate. Always check for spelling errors and factual inconsistencies!

B is for byline – Whether you’ve just started out or you’ve been in the industry for years, the buzz of seeing your name in a byline never goes away.

C is for CV & cover letter – A great CV and cover letter should make you stand out to recruiters, showcasing your experience in a clear and concise way. Only include skills and experience relevant to the job you are applying for!

D is for diversity – It is so important newsrooms become more reflective of the communities they serve. From mentoring schemes to diversity funds, there are so many things we can do to further diversify the media.

E is for ethics – A commitment to good journalism ethics builds public trust and ensures you report in a balanced and fair way.

F is for freelance – Freelancing is a great way to build contacts and expand your portfolio, and there are plenty of publications to choose from which accept pitches on a range of topics.

G is for grad schemes – Graduate schemes provide a brilliant first step into the industry. You will learn on the job and you could make valuable contacts that will last for the rest of your career.

H is for human interest – A human-interest story is one which highlights the experience of an individual person rather than an organisation or government. Journalism is not always about hard-hitting political exposés – the best stories can be ones which are relatable, emotional or funny.

I is for interviews – The art of successful interviewing is a key skill for up-and-coming journalists, as is how you can access exclusive information and get a one-to-one insight into the person you are covering.

J is for Journo Resources – Journo Resources is a great place for aspiring journalists to find opportunities – they send a newsletter with dozens of journalism jobs every week, as well as publishing lots of advice and guidance on their website. Read about how News Associates works with Journo Resources here. 

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K is for know your patch – Whether you cover local news or focus on a speciality such as health, politics or sport, you need to know your stuff so you can ask the questions that need answering.

L is for law – To be a journalist, you need to have a strong knowledge of media law. You want to avoid getting sued but also know how to use the law to your advantage.

M is for mojo – Mojo is short for mobile journalism – to be a contemporary journalist, everything you need is in your pocket! There are loads of apps and gadgets which can help you create innovative mobile content.

N is for NCTJ – NCTJ accreditation is widely viewed in the industry as the benchmark of excellence for journalists. If you have an NCTJ, employers will put your application at the top of the pile! To find out more about what the NCTJ is and why it is so important for aspiring journalists, read our blog post here.     

O is for opportunities – Journalism is a competitive industry, so you should take advantage of opportunities wherever you can. Take the initiative to reach out to editors and ask for work experience, or set up your own blog to showcase your writing skills!

P is for portfolio – Your portfolio is the place where you should store and display your best work. Good portfolios show your versatility as a writer, as well as any multimedia projects you’ve worked on.

Q is for quotes – Quotations are a vital part of any news story as it adds a human element – a good quote should grab the reader’s attention by adding something interesting or new to the story.

R is for read – Read the news, read books, and read the work of your favourite journalists and writers. Reading loads will improve your writing and broaden your knowledge on whatever subject area you are interested in. If you want any book recommendations, we have you covered with our list of must-read books for journalists!

S is for shorthand – Passing shorthand at 100 words a minute makes you stand out to employers and proves you have the persistence needed to make it as a journalist.

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T is for transmedia – Nowadays, a journalist must be a reporter, picture editor, video editor, sub-editor, social media content creator and more! The news landscape is always changing, and it is more important than ever to learn how to tell stories across a range of media platforms.

U is for UCAS – If you want to study an undergraduate degree in journalism, you will need to apply through UCAS. Read The School of Journalism’s guide on everything you need to know about the UCAS application process.

V is for verify – We’ve all heard a lot about fake news recently. To filter out fake news, as a journalist you should always fact-check and make sure you are getting your information from reliable sources.

W is for the six Ws – Who, what, where, when, why and how – the vital components to any news article! If you include the six Ws, you’re including the information that your readers or audience need to understand the story.

X is for x-perience – The only way you can learn to be a great journalist is by doing it. There are loads of ways to gain experience, from getting work placements to getting involved in student media.

Y is for say ‘yes’! – Getting a good story is often about being in the right place at the right time. By saying ‘yes’ to as many opportunities and events as you can, you will open even more doors in the future!

Z is for Zoom – During a global pandemic there are still loads of ways to learn and connect with others. News Associates offer free Zoom workshops for anyone interested in journalism, where you can get an insight into covering breaking news and learn tips from our award-winning tutors. You can register interest in our workshops via the website.

News Associates is officially the number one NCTJ journalism school in the UK – and has been for five straight years. Join us today!