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10 Steps to Being a Better Student Journalist

NABJ 2011 Multimedia Short Course at FAMU

By Ameena Rasheed, Texas Southern University Journalism Major

I was able to attend the 2011 NABJ Multimedia Short Course at Florida A&M University, Sept. 8-11 and it was an exceptional experience. I learned a wealth of information that made me a better journalist and I feel the need to share those skills that I learned with my fellow NABJ students. Here we go!

1. This first tidbit is one that I received from Florida A&M University Professor Dorothy Bland. Expand your network and get involved in a multitude of journalism and professional organizations. From the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) to the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), there are a plethora of associations you can join to diversify your network. Try to shy away from keeping your circle of connections “strictly chocolate.”

2. Make sure you not only know current events, but details about historical events in history like 9/11. Don’t forget about government officials (President’s Cabinet and Supreme Court Justices) and international dignitaries. REMEMBER: Spelling counts, so make sure that you know the names of these people backwards and forwards. Many news organizations, like CNN, give current events quizzes to future employees. The last thing that you want to do is end up unemployed because of something like a misspelled name.

RESUMES! Because we are journalists, we have a certain way with words and come up with catchy headlines at the drop of a hat. However, maybe it’s just me, but nothing vexes me more than trying to construct that perfect resume. Numbers 3 – 6 are pertaining to resumes.


3. General assignment reporter for KCRA-TV 3, Sacramento, Ca., Damany Lewis, explained that the pesky “objective” section should be nowhere on your resume. Your objective should only be placed in your cover letter.


4. When it comes to formatting, list your experience first and your skills, and education afterwards.


5. If you have work experience that isn’t unique and doesn’t pertain to journalism, keep it to yourself. However, if you have had some experience studying abroad or are fluent in a foreign language, include that in your resume.


6. Always make sure that your resume is written in AP style. A resume is your first impression and you want to show an employer that you know how to write.


7. Benjamin Davis, who was recently hired as a Florida A&M University CBS Dow Visiting Professor said that knowing HTML is a must-have skill for today’s young journalist.


8. Speaking of the Internet, do you have a website or blog? If so, KUDOS to you. If not, shame on you. No one can market you like you can. Create a platform for yourself online where people can see your resume, video reel, newspaper clips and whatever else you have done.


9. Rod Carter, of WFLA in Tampa, Florida, advised students that when putting together a video reel, to shy away from panoramic shots when shooting. Use wide shots, mid shots and close ups when filming.


10. Last, but certainly not least. The “YES” philosophy. In the opening ceremony for the NABJ short course, Jill Cox-Cordova, broke down one of her keys to success.


Y– Your brand. What is it? What are the things that no one can take from you? Integrity, hard working, attentive? Figure out what you are about.

E – Embrace a support system. Make sure that you have a mentor.

S – Skills. Know how to do it all and at the same time, become the go-to person for a certain something. Whether it is website design or producing video, find your niche.

Feel free to add in any other tips in the comments section and make sure that you check out the FAMU-NABJ blog: I hope I was able to help another fellow NABJ student with me sharing what I learned from the short course. As you began to progress, you must always look back and help your peers. You have to “lift while you climb.”


Home of the National Association of Black Journalists's (NABJ's) Digital Journalism Task Force

One thought on “10 Steps to Being a Better Student Journalist

  1. I loved this post. I share it with the Digital Sisterhood Network’s Digital Communications Intern Chanel Cole, a senior at Delaware State University. I know she will use these tips. Thank you for sharing!!!!

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