While the skills that I have gained through my introduction to journalism were gained with the expectation that I would become a better journalist, the skills that I have gained are also applicable to daily life. It seems odd that specific skills like giving interviews, conducting a long project, or writing to specific audiences would be applicable to life outside of journalism but they really are. Giving interviews to lots of different people and using different writing styles help form better communication skills and long term projects really enforce time management.
Perhaps the most versatile tool in a journalists’ toolbox is the ability to give an interview and get all of the necessary information for the story that has to be written. After the first few interviews that I conducted, I was generally not happy with them. They felt too forced with a predetermined course. I did not listen to the person that I was interviewing so much as I was trying to ask all of my prepared questions. With each interview I conducted, I felt more and more comfortable and let the flow of the conversation be the guide instead of my list of questions. These interviews were much more genuine and I was actually able to get more information than I did before when I was attempting to follow a rigid format. Entering the interview with a more relaxed tone set up the interview for success. When the person that is being interviewed can feel that relaxed tone, they are more likely to open up and provide more details than they normally would. This skill of being able to talk to people is extremely applicable in daily life. It is important to be able to talk to people in a meaningful way and the interview process is something that taught me how to have meaningful conversations with people.
As a journalist, you are going to have stories that take weeks to work on and eventually publish while sometimes you only get a few days. Either way, time management is a crucial skill that can set up stories for success. Long projects are best planned out when you first learn about them. Drafting lists of possible sources to interview and setting up those interviews is extremely important. It causes too much stress and affects the quality of the story when interviews are put off too late and too close to the due date of the story. Time management and long term planning is a great skill for outside the realm of journalism. It really is a skill that can be applied to most things you do, be it long term investing for retirement or even planning out what you will wear to work the next day in order to save a few minutes in the morning.
Reading the room is always important, especially in journalism. While most stories can be classified as general news, they each fall into a sub category that is more specific. Some stories will be very specific in who the intended reader is. Being able to write to certain audiences was an easy skill to pick up because you just have to make the story fit the needs of that audience. In order to do this, you have to know who your audience is. It can take time to get to know your audience and what they want to read. It is useful to make sure that you are writing to the audience, but not too much to the point that someone who is not necessarily part of that audience cannot understand what you have written.
Preventing bias from entering stories is not too difficult as long as you are proactive about it. As someone who is politically active it can be hard to write news stories and not inject my views into the story. If I were to, it would be a serious violation of my duty as a journalist. Proactive management is the best way to keep bias out of writing. I think it is also important to understand that it can be hard to not put your personal opinion in writing. Whether it is a big thing or a small thing, everyone is going to have an opinion on it and it is best if yours as the writer does not enter it. It is okay to have bias when it comes to certain things. It is just a part of the writing process to keep that bias out of the story.
Networking is a great tool for a journalist to really take advantage of. Networking is honestly just part of the job and the more that I focused on it the easier it became to find people to interview and to find ideas for stories. The hard part about networking is finding someone to start with. Once you know someone who knows someone, then it has a rolling effect and the list of people becomes endless. Networking well is also important outside of journalism. The more people that you meet and can connect with will connect you with more and more people. You never really know where life will take you or what you will need. Having a network of people that you can rely on if you need something is really important. I have done my best to network not just as a journalist but also just as a person. It feels good to be there for others when they need you and it feels good knowing that they will be there for you when you need them. That is the special thing about networking and it is something that I want to improve on.