Lifelong Learning


Out of college for almost a year, I’ve yet to stop learning. The demands of this job require it. It’s vital to you as a journalist and as a person. You have to keep up on your skills, while adapting your writing to what your editors want to see.
College prepared me to know the basics of being a journalist, but it only went so far. You have to continue to work or you will be left behind. It’s that simple. You have to want to learn and get better with each facet of being a journalist. It’s crucial to your survival in this field. If that sounds dramatic, it should. This is a hurting business and I get to see it first hand at a small paper. Living paper-to-paper is something you cannot explain. Staying on top of your game can only help you and the paper you work for.
Calling yourself a “writer” won’t get you far. You have to go beyond that and explore things. You have to know math (especially percents and mill rate calculations), how to adjust to different sources and how to be a responsible journalist.
There are a lot of moving pieces with this job. Each week is different and you never know what can come over the scanner.
The trick is to be independent, as well. Once out of college, you are on your own. You’ll have editors and fellow reporters by your side, but they will not think twice about walking you through anything. You need to have a grip on yourself to be self-sustaining. You are your teacher now and, no matter how smart you are, you’ll need to make that transition quickly. The news doesn’t stop, especially when you cover several beats or towns.
Then again, journalism doesn’t have an instruction manual, either. We all find our own ways because we are different people.
Instead of getting bad grades, you’ll be getting publicly criticized and ridiculed. They don’t teach that in college.

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