Journalists are generally helpful and sympathetic people, especially when it comes to helping those wishing to enter the profession, so when Chris Mandle reached out on Twitter to crowdsource some ideas for advice to give to trainee journalists we retweeted his request to our 80,000 followers.
Here are 10 of the top pieces of advice collated from the flood of responses received (in no particular order).
1. Contacts and networking
Without sources and contacts it is hard to get the stories you need to do your job. So overcome any shyness, don't be timid and, said Natasha Henry, if you have business cards don't leave home without them.
2. Always be prepared
Sometimes it's the simplest things that can let you down. If writing is going to be your living then you will need to carry more than one pen, and biros don't work in the rain, said Sue Gyford, so carry pencils as well. Beyond having the right tools you'll also need to be dressed suitably for any occasion; as a cub reporter you're likely to be sent on some of the jobs no one else wants to do.
Traipsing through the mud is made infinitely harder if you're wearing fancy shoes, and being sent to look for "action" at a "controversial" outdoor Easter play is torture if you are only wearing two layers, have no umbrella and then realise the play is three hours long.
3. "There is a story to be found everywhere"
The trainee reporter covering that Easter play still got a story for his editor out of his time spent in the cold, despite borderline hypothermia, and it's being able to spot what the story that makes the difference. "There's a story to be found everywhere," said Rachael Power. "Look hard enough and you'll find it."
Some of the advice offered on how to find those stories included tips such as always listening, remembering that there are always two sides to everything and to never assume you know what is happening.
4. Remember your audience
Every time you report you should be thinking of your audience and treat the story accordingly. Journalism lecturer Sue Featherstone offered the "wet dog" test as an example. "A wet dog on the cover of The Field boosts sales," she said. "Know your readers' wet dog."
5. Writing the story
"If you understand the structure of your story," said writer, journalist and editor Steve Adams, "it will all but write itself."
Although you may have landed the scoop of the decade in your first week of work experience it will mean nothing if you cannot get the story right in your head before you commit it to paper. One contributor recommended imagining writing a letter to a friend if you don't know where to start. Chris Maillard advised simply telling the story, not trying to "write" the story. Ultimately, journalists are storytellers under everything else.
6. Check everything
Spellings, names, dates, quotes, figures, addresses, grammar, double spaces, dangling modifiers, punctuation. Getting some of these wrong could get you in serious - even legal - trouble and getting them right will put you in good stead with the subs. Ultimately, the sub-editors "can stop you looking like an idiot if you mess up", said Ashley Davies, gazette editor at the Scotsman, so their power is not to be underestimated.
7. Practice makes perfect
Shorthand may seem an archaic practice in the age of mobile reporting but there will always be a time when technology fails and you will have to rely on yourself. No shorthand? No quotes, no story. The same idea applies to writing in general, as Stewart Darkin said: "Your skills improve with every piece, so write at every opportunity.
8. Challenge the status quo
Twenty-first century journalism has some very different elements from that which your superiors may have learned their trade by. As such, Henning Bulka recommended examining the routines of older or more experienced colleagues. You will learn a lot but you may also spot some old habits or inefficiencies.
9. Be multi-skilled
Carol Zuegner, journalism professor at Creighton University, said: "Be fearless. Don't be afraid to try new things." Modern journalism involves more than just the avenues of traditional reporting so if you are able to turn your hand to a variety of positions in the newsroom you will become a valuable member of the team.
10. Develop a thick skin
There will be times, both in the newsroom and on a beat, where tempers will run high and life will be made difficult. The importance of persistence and "bouncing back" from adversity were mentioned numerous times by contributors or simply, in the words of Kaye Inglis, "don't let the ******* get you down!".
For further advice you can read some of the original tweets collected on this Storify.
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