I’m glad I came back this summer. I found answers, found what I wanted to do. Now that I’m pretty sure I’m gonna be heading back, I’ve started looking up the local journos and following their tweets. Actually, I end up unfollowing a lot of them. Instead, I add them to lists. Some of them tweet far too often they monopolize my stream, while others simply spout irrelevant stuff.
I’ve also started reading my coursemate Liam Mannix’s blog. Helpful and relevant stuff, especially for journalism students. Follow one or two of these kinds of blogs and you’ll know much more about journalism than I did when I fell into it.
Journalism is wonderful and exciting, but I regret making such a poorly informed decision. I will yank out my hair if I hear another person tell me I want to do journalism ‘because I like to write’. A love for writing is not enough, my friends. Among other things:
1. You need to be good at telling stories.
You might be good at ‘writing’, but good writing is not necessarily good storytelling. The way we tell stories will change quickly over the next decade, so it’s not just about the ability to craft beautiful prose or make a good video. It’s about the ability to tease out a story out of the mundane and familiar, to discern a good story from a bad one, and to communicate complex information effectively. Check out my favourite blogger-storyteller Su Ann even though it’s not conventional journalism. Her travel posts tend to transport me all the way to a different setting and then jolt me back with unexpected Malaysianness. Like a senarai buku teks. Ahhhh.
2. You need to LIKE telling stories.
The more you like your job, the more likely you’re gonna do a good one. Working as a journo is not going to earn you a lot of money. You must survive on your passion. Don’t study journalism if you’re the one who is always not inquisitive, not curious about your neighbours’ recent fight, and basically just doesn’t like real life stories! If you’re not nosy, journalism will be a chore for you. You will always ask fewer questions, be satisfied with shorter answers…it’ll be hard to go far.
3. You need to be interested in others’ stories.
So maybe you write well, have an interesting life, have a popular blog. Maybe media IS for you! But journalism is about telling OTHER people’s stories, not just your own. Just because you like maintaining a self-absorbed blog (like I do, nothing wrong) doesn’t mean you like journalism. Also, if you’re painfully shy, introverted, and don’t like talking to people, you should seriously consider whether these are barriers you can and are willing to overcome. Otherwise, it’s gonna be really tough to get stories out of other people.
As I said, I’ve been a stalker lately and I must inroduce you to Malaysian Insider’s Erna Mahyumi. Find out why she chose journalism. It has the most sincere and heartfelt advice. (Plus, she’s a real journalist!)
p/s: 7.94 million Malaysians voted in the 12th General Election. 4.08 mil voted the government into power on behalf of a 27 mil population. That’s 15.1%! If you haven’t registered, do it by tomorrow. Don’t let the 15.1% decide your fate.