You don’t have to ask for permission anymore! You don’t need a degree and you don’t need the blessing of a establishment media enterprise to go be a journalist. With that said, a journalism degree is helpful, but not necessary. Working for a established media enterprise is helpful, but not necessary. We live in a world where establishment journalism transcended to citizen journalism, and now thanks to the internet and changing mindsets in the world of media, entertainment, journalism, and disruptive technology, you can go seek out a story and blaze a path that is unconventional but extremely efficient if what you truly want to expose a story you think people need to hear about.
10- Don’t chase the headlines, chase the story- “Churnalism” (churn out other journalists stories) is rampant and lazy (though sometimes required to stay afloat) and won’t get you anywhere. It’s bandwagoning and might get you some clicks, but what matters are the stories you broke and investigated, not the stories you jumped on afterwards. It’s better to report a small story that is original than push a story that doesn’t do anything to help push your reputation forward. Sometimes you have to go out in your neck of the woods and put your ear to the ground and chase leads, this will always unlock a story that is meant to be broken.
9- Iphones mean “I can”- “I don’t have a expensive camera or a cameraman” someone told me. Do you have a phone with a camera and a connection to the internet? There you go! You are a one man team and are capable of reporting on something. This video below has been seen thousands of times and was shot on an Iphone. Will Nardi (RSBN and Rouser News) covered a big story that no major mainstream media outlet was willing to discuss, and I did it all on an Iphone.
8- Understand your brand and own it- I learned the hard way you can’t be a political operative and a commentator, then I learned you can’t be a commentator and a objective journalist. I define myself as a advocacy journalist because I conduct journalistic type work but do so for the cause of advancing liberty. Once you begin to push yourself into one area of work or another, understand what this can do to your credibility, good or bad, and own it.
7- Outlets are out there but require you reach out to them- “No one will publish my piece” is a bad answer. Just because no one came to you doesn’t mean no one will publish your piece. There are numerous outlets always looking for a story and as a independent journalist you may have to reach out to them and pitch your piece for them to get published. When in doubt, start your own website and if you don’t have the financial means or initial audience to justify one, medium.com is a great place to go and publish a piece where you will get some immediate traffic that you wouldn’t get if you went with basic wordpress.com site or a blogspot type. Sometimes I even publish original pieces on Medium instead of my site or another bigger site because I tap into an audience I wouldn’t get traditionally.
A great example using Medium is Mike Cernovich, who started off with http://www.dangerandplay.com (which was originially just a [dot]wordpress.com site you can get for free), started a popular Medium blog which launched his journalistic enterprise, and then began http://www.cernovich.com where you find more of his immediate content. He still however puts up new and original content to both his Medium and primary cernovich.com sites.
6- If you don’t push your story, no one else will- Just because someone doesn’t believe in your story doesn’t mean it’s not important. Where there is a will there is a way and if your story is legitimate, it will grow feet and begin to move on its own.
5- Ask the questions other people haven’t asked- When conducting an interview or investigation, don’t ask questions you can find the answer to on Google, think outside the box and ask the questions no one else has, or will. Sometimes that will land you in a tense crowd, but will give you the answers you need, such as the experience I had below with a member of the Democratic Party that went viral.
4- No one cares about what they don’t already care about- “Would I read this?” If the question is “no” you need to move on.
3- Your connections will get you places you can’t get otherwise- Be friendly, reply to phone calls and e-mails on time, and keep your connections organized. Your network of allies and sources can make or break an investigation or report.
2- Everything is about narrative- Understand you will encounter people who are claiming to be journalists but are actually political operatives. You always have to put out evidence for everything you do, because a lack of evidence can make or break not just a story but your reputation.
1- Multi media is everything- Podcasting, blogging, and vlogging are essential, and you need to be a jack of all trades if you are going to be an independent agent.
Photo credit: Right Side Broadcasting Network YouTube channel screenshot image
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