Train As A Journalist
Writing can be an exciting profession, but before embarking on a substantial course of study with us or anyone else be sure you fully understand what is involved. Some people simply don't succeed perhaps because the dream is not the same as the reality or maybe they are simply not the right personality.
This job is not just about writing well; it also requires you to be able to write quickly and work under pressure. You also need to be prepared to write what an employer wants, which is not always the same as what you want to write about. This is the reality of journalism. If you can get past these considerations, with a bit of luck you may be able to forge a serious career.
Hone your writing skills
Journalists are primarily writers who write for periodicals (ie. things published at regular intervals). Some journalists work on staff for a publisher (full time or part time),from the publishers office; while others may work freelance or contract, from home, submitting articles which have been commissioned, or on spec (ie. in the hope they will be accepted).
Freelance journalists often start slow, only getting occasional articles published early in their career; but with persistence and good luck, they can develop a reputation and network of publishers who accept their work (so much so that they can earn a comfortable living from their writing).
Some in house journalists will find themselves being used to perform a range of other jobs in the office where they work. Particularly in smaller publishing houses, they may need to help with editing, layout -preparing publications for printing, web site development, marketing copy writing, conducting interviews, answering the phone, research for articles, photography, etc.
Some freelance journalists supplement their income by undertaking other work as well, such as contract editing for publishers, writing advertising copy or web site development, taking and selling photos, etc.
This qualification is designed to not only develop your capacity to write commercially viable copy, but also understand the publishing industry, and develop a variety of skills which will be useful to employers or yourself when pursuing a career in journalism.
Note: Your choice of modules from those listed should be determined according to deficiencies in your past studies or experience. Your choice of electives can (and should) be made, after completing the compulsory modules.
Note that each module in the Advanced Certificate in Journalism is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.
LEARN TO ORGANISE YOUR IDEAS
Every piece of writing has a structure, and in most cases, it is essential to plan that structure before writing. The overall structure creates a blueprint for the writer, and acts as a map to the writer, ensuring that she or he is always working towards the desired end.
Narrative structure is called “plot”. Conventionally, it contains these essential features, and in this order:
- Introduction of conflict (internal or external)
- Complication or development of conflict
- Climax (where conflict rises to a peak or a point of crisis)
- Resolution of the conflict.
This structure is quite acceptable for short stories, but may be too predictable for long and complex novels. Nevertheless, novels of popular fiction (westerns, romances, detective novels) still use this basic structure, which can be, and often is, expanded to contain several climaxes, called anti-climaxes. In those cases, the reader is lead to a point of heightened suspense as some resolution is promised, only to find that there is only partial resolution, or some previously overlooked element is still to be considered.
There are many possible ways of structuring a piece of writing. The story may bounce back and forth in time, focus around key events, with little transition between them, or return to where it started. The only way to really get a grasp on the possibilities is to study the structure of many different works in the fields that you most write in.
The basic element of structure is the paragraph. A paragraph is a unit of sentences that present one idea, or one aspect of an idea. For instance, you may wish to write about a particular dog. You might have one paragraph to introduce the dog (to create interest), another to explain why you want to write about him (your theme), three on the relationship between you and the dog, one on the relationship between the dog and your partner, and two on the relationship with your children. You might have two or three paragraphs recounting various experiences with the dog that support and elaborate on your theme, then another to draw conclusions, and perhaps a final one referring back to the why you wrote the piece in the first place. Then again, you could structure it in an entirely different way, even reversing that structure completely.
Paragraphing is a skill, and it does not come naturally. In fact, for a few hundred years or more, paragraphs were not invented, and readers used fingers to keep track of where they were on a page. When planning and writing paragraphs, the key point is to ask, “What do I want this paragraph to do? Explain, illustrate, give more detail about what I said in the previous paragraph, describe…?”
In the short feature article below, every paragraph serves a function. With more editing, the writer might have re-arranged some of the paragraphs, combined or even dropped some, but if the writing is to hold up, the reader should see how each paragraph fits into the whole.
Ethnocentrism is a word used by Anthropologists to describe an attitude of superiority with which cultures tend to view each other. It refers to the belief held by most cultural groups that their customs, their values, their way of living are better than those of other cultures. In other words, each society judges every other society against its own norms (or ways of doing things).
[States the central idea – theme – and defines the key term]
This tendency to evaluate societies and cultural or racial groups according to one’s own values results in all kinds of misunderstandings and stereotypes. Westerners might be revolted by some Asians’ custom of eating dogs, and Asians might think Westerners rather stupid because they lack subtlety. The point is that while one group might have the power to push their values and way of life onto another, no group is innocent of ethnocentric thinking or prejudiced attitudes.
[Illustrates the idea]
In 1580, the French philosopher Montaigne wrote: “Every man calls barbarous anything he is not accustomed to; we have no other criterion of truth or right reason than the example and form of the opinions and customs of our own country. There we always find the perfect religion, the perfect polity, the most developed and perfect way of doing anything”.
[Provides further support for the main idea]
Because of this, writes Montaigne, we would be wiser to refrain from judgement. Of course, this is difficult. However, we can withhold judgement a little longer, be a little more willing to accept that the other group might not be wrong, just different.
Apparently, this is very hard to do, because so few of us do it. We rush in with judgements - That’s disgusting! How cruel! What stupidity! - and immediately, we stop observing, we stop learning, we stop trying to understand. That might work if we all still lived in small isolated communities, but in today’s global village, closed minds and ethnocentricity are a lethal combination, leading to hatred, demonising, and many other evils.
[Presents the main argument]
So, are there customs, values, and habits that are wrong or bad? Of course there are! We are all human, after all, and therefore capable of great error and stupidity, alone or collectively. Then how do we decide which values and customs to accept and which to reject? Well, there are some principles that seem almost universal, and we can begin with those. For a start, we can agree that life is sacred, and oppose killing. We can agree that every human being wants to live in dignity, and ensure that everyone has food and shelter. We can agree that everyone wants to exercise some control over their lives, just as we do, and uphold human rights everywhere. We can agree that all life depends on the well being the Earth, and protect it from harm.
[Argues for alternatives and concludes]
Paragraphs might begin with a statement that suggests what will follow (or a topic sentence), a statement that tells what will follow (eg. “Let me tell you what she did then”), or a statement that creates a transition between sections (eg. “The battle went badly.”). Keep in mind that using any one method of beginning a paragraph will result in boring and repetitive writing. Again, the best way to develop your paragraphing skills is to read and study many examples of paragraphing.
Who will benefit from this course:
Writers looking to expand their skill set or move into freelance journalism.
Early career journalists who are "learning on the go".
Copyeditors wanting to offer further services to their clientele or move into writing.
Bloggers and other digital media producers wanting to improve their writing and learn more about journalism and publishing in today's rapidly evolving marketplace.
At the end of this course you will:
- Know how to structure a variety of different article types to create an engaging story
- Understand how to advertise and promote yourself and your work
- Understand how to analyse any piece of writing and describe what works and what doesn't
- Adapt to different genres and modes, and be able to work with more technical subjects.
- Understand the general hierarchy and inner-workings of periodical and digital publishing
- Know how to edit and polish your work to a high standard
- Understand how to pitch your work
VISIT THE SCHOOL'S ONLINE BOOK STORE
The following titles are written by our principal and tutors. Click on any title you are interested in to see what the book covers, it's cost and how to purchase it on line.
WHY CHOOSE US?
• Reputation: well-known and respected in publishing and writing
The school runs a successful publishing business, the principal has been
editor of national magazines; many of the staff are published authots)
• Industry focus: courses designed to suit industry needs and expectations
• Different focus: develop problem solving skills that make you stand out from others
• Hands on: develop practical as well as theoretical skills
• Lots of help: dedicated and knowledgeable tutors.
• Efficient: prompt responses to your questions
• Reliable: established in 1979, independent school with a solid history
• Up to date: courses under constant review
• Resources: huge wealth of constantly developing intellectual property
• Value: courses compare very favourably on a cost per study hour basis
• Student amenities: online student room, bookshop, ebooks, social networking, acs garden online resources.
WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP?
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