TSJTurnsTwo: Breaking into Journalism

For early morning on a Saturday halfway through term, there was an unusual amount of positivity surrounding the Zeeman building, and it was nothing mathematical. Around a hundred students eagerly piled into MS.01, weighed down with political magazines and armed with pens, paper and enthusiasm. The group were mostly Warwick students, but a few committed wannabe journos had trekked to campus via Coventry from York and London; true dedication to the cause.

After a brief introduction from [The Student Journals](http://studentjournals.co.uk) Co-Founder Ali Gokal, Carla Buzasi stormed the stage, detailing her climb up the career ladder that has led her from Warwick graduate to the UK Editor of the Huffington Post. “I always knew I wanted to be a journalist, it was the only thing I was ever good at,” she said, mirroring the enthralled ‘journalism glaze’ of many in the room, the ‘there is nothing else I want to do with my life but journalism’ look plastered across their faces.

Following this, the group split for four half hour workshops with the speakers, ranging from discussions about pitching and reviewing, to investigations and digital media. The diversity of the speakers allowed for intimate and interactive debates on a variety of issues, and provided the personalised arena for students to ask their own questions and even to challenge the opinions of the professionals.

A ‘networking lunch’ allowed for copious amounts of cake in honour of TSJ’s birthday, and a more casual environment to mingle and converse with speakers and other students over a cup of tea. Schmoozing was conducted in an awkward yet orderly fashion as we attempted to weasel work experience with people we followed on Twitter.

Editor and Co-Founder Siraj Datoo brought back the delegates to the main lecture theatre to detail the journey of TSJ; from its conception, to the expansion of the team, coming runner up in the Guardian Student Media Awards, and noted by Total Politics in their blog awards. The future of the magazine looks bright too, with a fresh new website and a unique photography section to be launched in the coming weeks. For an entirely student-based, student-run platform which engages with students from a multitude of backgrounds and disciplines, the launch of such a conference should soon be added to the milestones on the TSJ path to success.

An inspiring all-women panel discussion followed featuring Dawn Foster and Fatima Manji. Chaired by TSJ’s Deputy Culture Editor Anishka Sharma, the panel debated the difficulties accessing journalism, and breaking through the ‘glass ceiling’. They summarised the pitfalls of getting into journalism as a mixture of class, gender and the economic climate, and pressed students to find gaps in the market, use their existing contacts and develop a thick skin to deal with rejection. The pair disagreed on the implementation of women’s quotas, but both agreed that legislation and addressing the difficulties faced in discrimination by raising the profile of these issues would help combat the obstacles for the next generation of journalists.

Lawyer and legal correspondent David Allen Green concluded the day’s events with a stimulating and unique perspective into social media that I have yet to see at a journalism event. He compared blogging to post Civil War pamphleteering with a heightened sense of immediacy, and slammed the idea of censoring it, rendering it utterly impossible to control a medium everyone has access to. Documenting his leap from lawyer to journalist, David Allen Green admitted he hates writing for the print edition – impatience is clearly a by-product of making his name online through blogging a legal slant on current cases in the news. He explained his role in the ‘Twitter Joke Trial’, libel laws and the power of regulation, finishing with emphasis on a tip reiterated throughout the day; write about what you enjoy; the passion shines through.

Despite assurances that we will make no money, will face discrimination, harsh restrictions and tough competition to make it into a career in journalism, it is evident that the delegates were more inspired than put off by TSJ Turns Two. The response from both speakers and attendees was overwhelmingly positive, and is certain to set the precedent for journalism at Warwick and beyond for the future.


1) Don’t live in a ‘hacks’ bubble. Talk to the people, on the ground, living the stories, including those different from yourself. (Fatima Manji)

2) Find a mentor, no matter what your experience level. A senior journalist with the same background and interests as you can be invaluable. (Dawn Foster)

3) Don’t forget the local press, it’s a key springboard to the nationals. You can do pretty much anything on a local paper, giving you the skills and knowledge to apply further. Think: what’s the wider picture? (Les Reid)

4) Being a great journalist is about being a leader, experimenter, a problem solver, and ultimately, making something that people love. (Adam Westwood)

5) Data journalism is on the up – it’s painting a pattern you can’t replicate in print. Good data journalism is about replicating the information you want and need, rather than having it all thrown at you. (Jonathan Hewett)

6) Multimedia isn’t just an idea now. You have to be happy working in any medium. (Carla Buzasi)

7) Show you’re reliable on an issue, and you will build up a credible reputation. Comment on, re-tweet and talk about interesting and engaging topics, to show the world you understand them. (David Allen Green)

8) Don’t be a white, middle-class scumbag. Look at the way you act, commission and edit. Be aware of your state of being and live outside of your bubble. (Dawn Foster and Fatima)


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