Being a journalist isn’t (just) about digging up the juiciest most delicious gossip that you can find, it’s about being able to listen, learn, socialise, distance, and most important of all tell a good story. You can’t just say ‘a bus has crashed into a pawn shop’, you have to be able to give the work some pizzazz to keep the reader interested! The previous example could be easily be punched up by saying ‘an out of control bus has driven headlong through the front window of an independently owned pawn shop’. This gives the sentence a bit more substance and excitement.
Keep your ear to the ground for any rumblings of potential news stories. Follow up any leads, no matter how unassuming or tedious it may be, because you never know, it could lead somewhere big! If you get wind of a story that might seem like nothing it may still be worth a little look into. It may well turn out to be nothing at all, but then again it might turn out to be a massive story with an enormous public interest and it will do your journalism career absolutely no harm at all if you are seen to be the one that has broke the story.
Another tip: make friends and contacts, socialise! It may not sound like much of a tip but it you can build up your little black book of professional contacts then you have much more power. If a news story breaks and you have a friend on the inside it makes things much easier than if you are coming in cold and trying to get information. It’s like they say; it’s not what you know, it’s who you know!
On the flip side you never know who you’re going to have to rely on to get some inside information on a story, so a massive tip would be to never burn any bridges and never make enemies. Just make friends that you like less. You might not like someone, but that doesn’t mean you have to act like you don’t like them. Grit your teeth and get them a pint in because one day that person could help you get that elusive $100million international front page story.
And finally one of the biggest tips that I have been given and I can give you is to practice, practice, practice! As the old saying goes practice makes perfect, so the best way to hone your skills in anything in life is to stop reading guides and walkthroughs and just get out there and do it! Being out there in the field doing is always going to trump staring at a computer screen or a book just reading about doing. So go and do it! Good luck!