The digital media world moves at a breakneck pace. There seems to always be something trending or breaking on Twitter and some journalists have the task of trying to keep up with it all.
One of those is Charlie Herbert, a fresh recruit for digital news website Joe.co.uk, well known for its entertainment-style coverage of sport, politics, society, lifestyle and culture.
He graduated from the Nottingham Trent University in 2020 with a Master's degree in broadcast journalism. He now pumps out up to five stories a day for the website, trying to keep up with anything from post-match football interviews or covid-19 vaccine news.
In his first week on the job, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle gave the bombshell interview to Oprah Winfrey, and later the journalist and presenter Piers Morgan stormed off-set on Good Morning Britain and left ITV. Herbert reported on ITV's response to calls for Morgan to be sacked and the 41,000 initial Ofcom complaints about his comments.
We spoke to Herbert about his best tips for journalism graduates on the job prowl and what it takes to work in trending news.
Be a news junkie
Hunger for news is a must when you could be writing about anything from a new Netflix series to the British monarchy to viral TikTok videos. Herbert went into his job interview well versed in the news of the day and with a firm understanding of what Joe.co.uk writes about.
"Always have an eye on the news and know what news interests you. Something as simple as that can go a long way and shows you have the passion for the role," he explains.
You need a good news sense to watch an interview and quickly come up with a striking top line. You do not need to write extensive copy - often 300 words will do the job - so be brief and precise. Twitter will become your best friend, so learn the essentials of Tweetdeck and constantly monitor the news cycle for your next story.
Learn the language
Having a background in broadcast journalism helped Herbert transition into writing for the website because there is a shared conversational style. But he had to learn to take new risks with his writing, like in his piece about storing baked beans upside down.
The opening standfirst reads: "You've been storing beans wrong your whole life, you idiot."
He advised journalism students to study the language of the publication you want to work for. If they are bold with their writing, you follow suit.
Roll with mistakes
When Herbert turned his camera on for his remote job interview, he had forgotten about a joke Zoom background he had installed with his friends the night before. What of? A mocked-up image of him appearing in the parish council Zoom meeting that went viral last month. Fortunately, the employers saw the funny side and it actually worked in his favour.
"In a weird sort of way that told them immediately the sort of humour or informality that I had and that I could fit into the team," he explains.
He does not advise deliberately using this trick but the point is to dust yourself down after mistakes and not let that moment get you flustered. It, in fact, helped him settle his nerves and the follow-up interviews went without a hitch.
"It acted as the perfect ice-breaker because I turned my background off, then I said 'well you know everything about me now'," he jokes.
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