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Working in news

Media careers insight week

What is it like working in a newsroom and reporting the news? How do you become a news reporter? We put these questions to Guardian journalists.

Don't want to miss a thing?
Jonathan Liew with his advice on writing and starting a career in journalism
What makes a good writer and how do you become one? We spoke to Guardian journalist and 2021 British Sports Journalism Awards writer of the year Johnathan Liew to find out...
Don't assume that just because you've had a thought that it's an obvious thought, or everyone else must have had the same thought. Test it out. Talk about the idea with people you trust. More often than not, they'll make it better.
Jonathan Liew
Guardian Sportswriter
What are good ways to start or get relevant experience in news? What could a secondary or university student be doing now that might help?
To my mind the first and last quality a good journalist needs is curiosity, and you can learn that any which way. Your teens and your 20s are pretty much the last time in your life that you're going to have both the time and energy to really indulge a passion, an interest or even just a whim. So read as much as you can, research things only tangentially connected to what you're studying about, spend an entire night disappearing down a rabbit hole on Wikipedia or Google, talk to people, have experiences, make memories, think about stuff. You won't believe how much of the knowledge you pick at this time of your life stays with you, and how much you'll lean on it later.
Where do you get ideas for your work?
Very few ideas just come at you out of nowhere. Mostly they're mutations or isotopes of existing ideas, ideas you've seen somewhere else, ideas you've seen in one context that you've realised you could apply to another. Again, read as much as you can: books, articles, even smart and well-informed people on social media. Other journalists are often a terrific source of ideas, even if the idea is "do the exact opposite of what he's doing". Don't assume that just because you've had a thought that it's an obvious thought, or everyone else must have had the same thought. Test it out. Talk about the idea with people you trust. More often than not, they'll make it better.
How do you get other journalists or newspapers interested in your ideas? In other words, do you have any advice on pitching?
If you're not passionate about an idea, then the person you're pitching to isn't going to be either. Try and convey why this idea is going to be the greatest story ever told (and if it isn't, then why are you pitching it?). And then explain why you're the perfect person to do it. Editors get dozens of pitches a day. If you can wake them up, drag them out of their comfort zone (although don't be a dick about it, obviously), then your pitch is going to have a much better chance of success.
What writing tips could you give a young person starting out?
Know exactly why this is the thing you want. So many people I know went into the industry without a clear idea of why they were doing it - they just drifted into it, or some other reason - and they are without fail the unhappiest people in journalism. Whether it's a passion for writing, a talent for communication, wanting to talk to people, wanting to see your name in print, ego, getting to see football matches for nothing - there are no wrong answers here, by the way. But know what you actually want out of journalism, and you'll have a much better chance of getting it.
How to get into news journalism with Helen Pidd
Listen to the Guardian's North of England editor speak about her career in journalism and give advice for those starting out.
Angela Foster on being a news desk editor and Maya Wolfe-Robinson on working as a correspondent
We spoke to Angela Foster and Maya Wolfe-Robinson to discover how they found themselves working in the news and to see what they get up on a daily basis.

Angela Foster, News desk editor

My first reporter job was at the Northampton Herald and Post where I got to cover a mix of human interest, crime and council stories. A few months into my time there Diana, Princess of Wales died and as our patch was where her ancestral home was I got to cover her death and join national reporters lining the final route of her funeral cortege.
Angela Foster

My role involves...

helping to set the news agenda for the day, commissioning stories for the paper and website, helping to manage a team of reporters and specialists and on Saturdays editing the website.

I love my job because...

I have always loved stories and enjoy being 'in the know'. I love the fact that no two days are the same and in unique times such as the busy period we have had the fact that you have played a role in it. The other thing I enjoy and this applies to journalism is general is the chance to make a difference.

My one piece of advice would be...

I would say not to let anything put you off. I always knew I wanted to be a journalist but it didn't happen straight away. If you know it's what you want to do persevere and it will happen.

The most important qualities of being a news desk editor are...

Attention to detail, empathy and a willingness to listen.

Maya Wolfe-Robinson: North of England correspondent

My role involves...

Alongside a team of reporters based in Manchester, I report on anything that is happening in the north of England, or nationally.

I enjoy my job because...

I love getting to talk to a really wide variety of people all over the country. I've always been quite nosy and love a gossip, so getting to ask strangers questions or being trusted to tell someone's story is a real privilege.

My one piece of advice would be...

Be curious! Try to understand how things around you work, ask people's stories, keep in touch with contacts as you go.

When I was younger...

I didn't know any journalists. I had my heart set on being a barrister, and then I decided it wasn't for me in my final year of university. It was when Afua Hirsch at been appointed the Guardian's legal affairs correspondent and was tweeting (which was new at the time!) and blogging about human rights and all the types of law I was interested in and I got a bit obsessed with her. She totally inspired me to consider journalism

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