Many aspiring journalists dream of landing front-page scoops and viral news stories. The truth is, there is much more to journalism than the reporting side of things. For instance, there is the audience side.
Grace Braddock is a fresh full-time recruit for Metro.co.uk. She previously freelanced for the news website and before that, she worked on The Telegraph's social media accounts. This came after finishing her Master's degree in interactive journalism at City, University of London last year.
Her current role is audience development producer, which means she crafts the push notifications for mobiles and desktops, plus the Metro news stories on news aggregators like Apple News, Upday and Flipboard.
She spoke to Journalism.co.uk about what skills she needs to do her job and how other students can hone them.
Get used to character limits
"A lot of my job is around push notifications, so what that entails is me writing headlines and descriptions," says Braddock.
Twitter, famous for its 280-character limit, is a good place to start practising being word-savvy. Knowing what to say briefly, accurately and engagingly is a core skill to develop.
Of course, you will want to get breaking stories out quickly, so be decisive and trust your abilities. But when needed, do not be afraid to ask for a second opinion from a more senior colleague or editor.
"We don't do clickbait, but with push notifications and character limits you can get away with being a bit vague or enticing people to click," she says.
"It is mainly down to confidence. But there are stories which are legally more precarious where you need to double-check things and what to leave out, so there are times you have to ask for help."
Understand different platforms
Braddock chooses which news articles to push out and pitches her selection to the news editor. She then manually selects stories for the different platforms and news aggregators. Metro.co.uk shares top stories, features and exclusives on Apple News, while Upday and Flipboard will get breaking news and explainers.
"News judgement is a big part especially with the pitching, you have to know the big stories and what each individual platform is looking for," she says, adding that she learned most of it on the job. Being a keen learner is a must-have skill.
Get creative on work experience
Braddock did work experience with Journalism.co.uk last August, during which she launched this series on journalism student's first jobs in the industry. She also started up our weekly journalism job Twitter threads. Our audience seems to have liked both initiatives so we continued them beyond her time with us.
THREAD: Looking for a new job? Check out our latest job ads round-up— Journalism.co.uk (@journalismnews) February 26, 2021
"That helped develop my confidence in coming up with ideas and to try new strategies," Braddock says about her time with us, advising students to use work experience as an opportunity to broaden their horizons and experiment.
Job hunting during covid-19
Her big break came from doing freelancing shifts, so she advised students to use the working from home situation to do freelance work and build industry contacts.
She also encouraged students to not lose sight of the end goal.
"My advice for people worried and trying really hard at their studies, but who don’t necessarily have buckets of work experience - which I didn’t have when I was doing my Master's - is that if you do put the work in, it will show."
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