When big-name journalists come under scrutiny for errors, everyone likes to pile on and say something about how journalism should be done. Brian Williams has been a trending topic all week. Maybe that is why so many people are eager to share their #AdviceForYoungJournalists.
This hashtag caught fire on Twitter and sparked conversation across the industry this week after seasoned journalist Felix Salmon wrote on open letter on Fusion in response to young journalists asking for advice. He warned that journalism is a “dumb career move,” and that “enormous numbers of incredibly talented journalists find it almost impossible to make a decent living at this game.”
As a senior about to graduate with the very degree that everyone is talking about, I decided to highlight some of the most interesting conversations from the hashtag, and include my reactions.
Journalism isn't just writing. And journalism isn't just what journalists do. It's a way to look into the world #AdviceForYoungJournalists
— Alberto Cairo (@albertocairo) February 10, 2015
My Take: I love this. It sounds inspirational. That’s one of the reason I love journalism. It’s a way to tell a story and look deeper into someone’s life. It’s a profession that means something.
If potential employer disparages Buzzfeed, Vox or Mic, etc. RUN. It's elitist snobbery you want no part of. #AdviceForYoungJournalists
— Jimmy Orr (@JimmyOrr) February 10, 2015
My Take: I think Orr’s comments highlight the real change happening in the industry. The reality is, every young journalist reads these outlets. It’s nothing unusual for us. And for those editors who don’t understand that — I don’t think it’s snobbery. They are just misinformed.
Be absolutely perfect in every way, or your fellow sanctimonious, hypocritical journalists will destroy you. #AdviceForYoungJournalists
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) February 10, 2015
My Take: I think there are always going to be critics when you are writer. It’s a matter of sticking to your guns and reporting stories that need to be told.
— NewsHour (@NewsHour) February 10, 2015
My Take: I’m glad PBS NewsHour used the trending hashtag on young journalists as an opportunity to highlight former news anchor Jim Lehrer’s 2009 interview on the guidelines of journalism. These guidelines from Lehrer on the basics of ethics and fairness should be required reading for all young journalists.
— Dixie Swanson (@DixieSwanson1) February 10, 2015
My Take: I just think this photo is hilarious.
The best way to become a good journalist is to practice journalism. Talking about it only goes so far. #AdviceForYoungJournalists
— Jeff Brady (@jeffbradynpr) February 10, 2015
My Take: I feel like this is actually the truth. Journalism is all about the internships and honing your skills, right? Out of all of the tweets, this one from Jeff Brady, an NPR correspondent, resonated with me the most.
Journalists like to talk about themselves. #AdviceForYoungJournalists
— Felicity Morse (@FelicityMorse) February 10, 2015
My Take: In many of my classes at University of Maryland, journalists come to speak about their work. Honestly, I love hearing it. It’s a lot of blood and sweat to get the story. I’m proud of every story I’ve written. I’d imagine if you are a veteran journalist, you’d be very proud – and you’d want to talk about it. Well, we want to listen.
Vox.com editor-in-chief Ezra Klein also posted a piece this week touting his best advice to young journalists. I noticed how he was critical of the value of journalism school.
“Don’t go to journalism school,” he wrote. “You’re better off just interning, or writing a blog, or reading think-tank papers. … A lot of journalism schools teach bad habits, and make you pay for the privilege of learning them.”
My Take: I agree that internships are a great place to learn how to write. But I learned a lot about it in the classroom. It was a place where I could write under the stress of a deadline and challenge myself to be better. I learned about media law and ethics. And I learned how to interview different types of people. In my news writing class of sophomore year, I interviewed a police officer, city council members, business owners and local church leaders for various articles. These aren’t “bad habits” – they are the start of what I hope to be a career.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that Jim Lehrer is the former news anchor for PBS NewsHour.