#AdviceForYoungJournalists

Because no one asked, here's some pretentious, high-on-my-horse advice. 

Look, I’m going to skip over the part where I warn you away from this business because things are dire. Really dire. Pants-shittingly dire. But, you’ve come far enough to know that already. So, let’s assume you’ve internalized it, crushed it into a little ball and buried it at the bottom of your gut, never to be spoken of again.

Moving on.

Journalism school is pretty important, but it’s not the only thing. It gives you a set of skills that are immediately useful in a newsroom. Skills like what a news story looks like, how to use a style guide, what not to do if you don’t want to get sued. It gives you the nuts and bolt skills to not be terrible. What you do with these skills is up to you, but this is a good place to start. 

Take every opportunity, and try not to blow it. When you inevitably do blow it, own up to it, explain how it happened and why you will never, ever do something so stupid again. Then, wait patiently by the mailbox for your subpoena. (I kid. Probably.)

For god’s sake, read something. Read newspapers, read magazines, read gossip, read pulp fiction, read high-minded fiction. Reading is how you get better at writing. It introduces you to new words, new ideas, new ways of telling stories. You should be sure to read the news, of course. Not knowing what’s going on in the world is not a good look. But there is more out there than newspaper. Read it all. 

Never forget that you don’t know shit. The newer you are, the less you know.

This is why you should listen to the people around you, especially if they’re old. Old people are the only people worth listening to. Experience is not useless just because the person dispensing it has never heard of Snapchat.

In any newsroom, the people around you have been doing this longer than you. Put that to your advantage. Be polite. Most of all, endear yourself to the copy desk, they’re there to make you better. They’re right more often than you think, if you’re capable of putting your ego aside. (Your lede wasn’t that good anyway.) I stopped being a sack of garbage because I listened to editors when they were telling me how to get better.

Be decent, you're about to jump into a small pool of talent. You're only ever three-degrees of separation from your next boss, so don't be a dick. (This is generally good life advice anyhow, nobody likes a dick.)

Last of all, don’t be boring. No matter how important your story is, if it’s boring nobody is going bother reading it.