How to make the most of student media

Getting involved in student media is a great way to explore journalism and develop the skills you need to make it in the industry.

We spoke to some of our fantastic former trainees, who offered their advice on how to make the most of student media when at university.

Explore different types of journalism

Student media is first and foremost a brilliant platform for trying out different forms of journalism, from breaking news to food reviews, student politics and sport.

Louise Hall completed her training at News Associates Manchester and is now a reporter for the Independent.

She edited her student newspaper The Courier while at university and said of the experience: “I think it’s a wonderful chance to put yourself out of your comfort zone and try lots of different things.

“Make the most of opportunities to try your hand at TV and radio and broaden your understanding of everything the industry has to offer.”

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Improve your journalism skills

When writing for a student newspaper, you have so much freedom to find your own stories and interviews – providing the perfect chance to practise your reporting skills and learn from those around you.

News Associates editorial development manager Lucy Dyer said: “My tip would be to cover student life and your patch, not international affairs – think about your audience.”

As well as being able to improve your writing skills, it has become increasingly important to learn the digital side too.

Ed Southgate completed his training at News Associates London, after having edited his student newspaper Epigram.  

He is now on The Sun graduate scheme. He said: “A news editor told me that to work for him, his journalists need to be reporters, picture editors, video editors, sub-editors and more.

“So, take the extra bit of time to learn how to operate a camera or how to work your way around uploading articles to a website.”

Build your portfolio

One of the first things an employer will be looking for is an excellent portfolio. Demonstrate your passion for journalism by packing your portfolio full of content.  

Louise said: “Make the most of every opportunity and make sure to keep a record of all the undoubtedly amazing work you’ll be doing.”

If you get the chance to put your publication or your own stories up for awards, such as the SPA awards, absolutely do. A nomination or win is a great way to stand out from the crowd. 

Many student journalists even manage to bag exclusive stories which get picked up by national papers or broadcasters – this looks especially great on your CV!

Above anything else, getting involved in student media shows that you are proactive.

Lucy, who oversees our admissions, said: “I’m a huge fan of student media. Being involved with your student paper shows the commitment to journalism employers are looking for.”

Start networking

Surrounded by like-minded people, you can make great connections and collaborate with others to create outstanding work.

Many student newspapers set up their own careers events with guest speakers and industry tips, so be sure to get involved where you can.

Louise said: “Don’t feel intimidated or put off from getting involved just because you don’t have any experience or background in writing or don’t think you fit some kind of stereotypical bill.

“Student media should be a place where everyone can get involved, especially if you have a marginalised voice that needs to be heard.”

Always keep an eye out for freelance opportunities on the side, by signing up for newsletters and being smart about who you follow on social media.

We particularly love all the work done by Journo Resources to connect young journalists with opportunities in the industry.

Last but not least, have fun! It’s the perfect time to experiment, meet people and explore what kind of stories are important to you.

Ed said: “Don’t worry about making mistakes. It is better to make the mistake and learn from it than shying away from any opportunity because you’re scared of doing it wrong.”

If you want more journalism top tips, read our guide on how to do mobile journalism. 

If you’ve been involved in student media, you might be interested in applying for one of our NCTJ courses. If you have any questions about what we offer, email Lucy at ldyer@newsassociates.co.uk

Featured image courtesy of the Student Publication Association (SPA).