In the fifth of our series of posts on careers in journalism, Up To Speed Journalism’s founder Tom Hill gives his final piece of advice for people considering journalism as a career – go for it!
If you really want to be a journalist, here are three simple thoughts for you:
Don’t just stand there, do something.
There’s no time like the present.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
There is no point in dwelling on what might have been in the past, or in dreaming of what could be in the future, if…
It is what you do now that counts. Your life story, when you come to write it, will be the sum of all the things you have done, not a litany of lost opportunities. You only have one life, so put it to good use.
Consider the stories of two people, born more than ninety years apart, which appeared on different pages of the same copy of the Daily Telegraph.
On the front page, a superb photograph by Gerald Herbert of Associated Press, captures the moment when two-year-old Redjeson Hausteen Claude is reunited with his Mother Daphnee Plaisin after being trapped for two and half days in the rubble of his home in Haiti.
On an inside page, there is an obituary of Helen Lewis, a talented dancer who inspired generations of girls in Belfast. Mrs Lewis, 93, was born in the Sudeten town of Trutnov in 1916 and survived three years in Terezin, Auschwitz and Stutthof camps. The obituary describes how she lost her Mother, cousins and first husband in the holocaust, but survived to become “an award-winning choreographer and pioneer of modern dance in Northern Ireland”.
Both stories are about survival against the odds and both show hope triumphing over appalling adversity. Let us hope that in Redjeson’s case, the AP photograph, which has appeared on front pages all over the world, will help to ensure that he and his Mother are not forgotten amidst the rubble and despair of Port-au-Prince.
Making a decision about a career may pale into insignificance in comparison to these stories. However, deciding to become a journalist and acting upon that decision is an opportunity to learn from the example of the people we write about and to grasp a chance for a fulfilling life.
And as a journalist, you could have an opportunity to make a difference to the lives of others.
So, if you have fire in your belly, a hunger to make something of your life and the determination to succeed, act now and go for it.
The next few blogs in the series will focus on journalism skills, starting with the so-called soft skills used by even the most hard-nosed reporters.