How to ace your journalism course (even during a pandemic)!


There has never been a stranger time to start studying journalism. Here are some top tips for making the most of your journalism course even if the UK goes back into lockdown.

On Thursday, PressPad organised a pop-up #PressPadRemote event aimed at journalism students who might be wondering how on earth they are going to do well on their courses when half the lectures are being done remotely. Laura Garcia led a panel of journalists, lecturers, current students and recent graduates in offering advice for how to ace your course regardless of the pandemic. Here's a roundup of the best tips from the night:

  1. Treat your university town as if it were your patch. Lynn Butler, a graduate teacher of multimedia journalism at Wolverhampton university gave this top tip. A patch in journalism is an area a journalist covers in-depth and looks for stories.  
  2. Get involved with student media. Lucy Dyer, editorial development manager at News Associates urged all of our audience to get involved with student media. “Student media is the best thing ever and it can also help you decide whether the industry is for you.” Lucy also said that she advised incoming journalism freshers to start dabbling in mobile journalism because “digital is the future”.
  3. Believe in yourself and your capabilities. Ian Reeves, head of the Centre for Journalism at the University of Kent told our audience: “Be confident and believe in yourself." Ian added that everyone who has made it onto a journalism course has the ability to make a success of it.
  4. Connect with peers as much as you connect with people in the industry. Nicola Slawson, a freelance journalist who graduated with an MA in journalism from City University in 2015, gave this top tip. She added: “Your peers are going to be your colleagues and could possibly commission you or tell you about jobs in the future.” She also suggested you start a journalism project such as a website with your coursemates as a way to develop skills.

5. The NCTJ accreditation was also recommended by the majority of our panel. Butler said that it was “invaluable”. Reeves also added: “It’s the one that editors want to see.”

6. Hone your analog skills - and yes, this does include shorthand. Laura Garcia advised the importance of shorthand to our audience. She said: “Analog skills are really important because your phone can let you down at any point.”

7. Write lots of different things at university. Recent journalism graduates also took part in the masterclass. Michele Theil said: “Don’t just stick to news or features because this is the only time in your life that you will be able to write whatever you want.”

8. Find a study buddy and have a routine for maximum productivity. MA student Danielle Desouza advised our audience: "If you do have a timetable it will give you some sort of structure to your day." She added that working when you are most productive but also give yourself some time off.

9. Don't leave important deadlines to the last minute. Current journalism student and PressPad's Social Media Editor Ayomikun Adekaiyero said this to the freshers. "Anything can happen and it can knock your schedule back so be sure to keep on top of your work."

10. Take every opportunity that comes your way as this is the best time to start building a strong portfolio. Current journalism student and PressPad's Newsletter Editor Amber Sunner had this to say to the audience. "Apply for things you think your underqualified for too because it's good experience. You'll learn how to apply and ultimately will get better at it." 

Watch the masterclass back here:

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