With all the talk of the end of the newspaper, of the citizen journalist, of the social media explosion, it might be tempting to suggest that journalism as a profession is phasing out, but, in fact, the well-trained, critical-eyed, clear-prosed journalist is even more necessary to sift, sort, validate, fact-check, synthesize and articulate the News amongst the noise.
With that in mind, we've asked our friend and colleague Chris Gardner to pick his 5 things to get an aspiring journalist.
Fact: Most journalists miss deadline. It’s a thing. Like a sure-bet kinda thing. As a matter of fact, as I type this right now, I’m past deadline. Sad, but true. So, unless you can somehow reconfigure the DNA of the intended giftee, I’m thinking a better present might be a top-of-the-line alarm clock, like this iHome device that connects to an iPad/iPhone/IPod so you can listen to music, mess around with your apps and set that clock (twice!) and cross your fingers that your next deadline will get pushed back. Hopefully. And please, ignore that snooze button.
Journalists, like all creative types, typically use Apple products to pound out their prose. But all their devices don’t have to be. Why not spread the wealth, and gift that fact-loving friend of yours with a Kindle Fire. Because, well, diversity is always a better choice. And this product is worthy of inclusion. You know what it is and you know what it does. But did you know it now comes in HD?
3. To Be Heard
A digital recording device is a must for any journalist who stays busy on the beat. I’ve used the same one for more than 7 years, and while I’ve had to change the batteries more times than I can count, the little guy has been a great friend and an even better learning tool. At first, it can be rather unsettling to hear your own voice played back over and over again during the transcription process; however, the icky moments turn to aha ones when you learn better interview skills by listening to your mistakes. I love this recorder by Sony. In red. Because tech products don’t always have to be silver or black.
As a journalist, it is crucial to stay informed. It can even be thrilling. But it’s also oh-so very exhausting. And that is why nights camped out on the couch are not only OK, they should also be regularly scheduled programming. And 133 minutes of that dedicated relaxation should be devoted to this 1987 classic feature film starring Albert Brooks, William Hurt and Holly Hunter,
“Broadcast News.” Sure, it’s about broadcast journalism like the title suggests, but this James L. Brooks’ romantic dramedy is an amazing character study into the biz. It was good enough to land seven Oscar nominations in its day and remains one of the most watched journalism films. If this isn’t your fave, there are plenty others to pick from, including “Shattered Glass,” “The Insider,” “Almost Famous,” “All the President’s Men,” “Nothing But the Truth” and even “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” if you really need a laugh.
Look, nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes, especially in our writing. But every aspiring journo can dramatically reduce their litter of misspellings and grammatical mistakes by adhering to the AP Stylebook. It’s a smart buy, especially since so much copy goes up online all over the world without the discerning eyes of a copy editor. Flipping through AP’s guide can make your copy clean and more concise, leading to respect from your readers and, of course, your editors. And guess what? There’s now an app for that! Its $24.99 and you can take it wherever your phone goes.
Currently an Editor for Wonderwall, Chris oversees breaking news coverage and social media pages, as well as hosts a web series called Celebs Gone Social. During his career, he has covered film, fashion, celebrities, nightlife and entertainment as an editor, reporter and columnist. Prior to Wonderwall, Gardner was on staff at People, Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. He also launched a celebrity blog for Cosmopolitan.com and has held editorial positions for such publications as FashionWeekDaily, Movieline's Hollywood Life and MediaBistro. He also wrote a relationship advice column for The Des Moines Register's Juice newspaper.