The best advice I ever received…

Every journalist has at one time received advice from a mentor or colleague that changed their life or how they viewed their career or work. You were asked via Twitter for the best advice you ever received. Here’s what you shared:

Best advice was actually criticism meted out by my old news reporting tutor at Cardiff Journalism School (UK) back in the 80s, on reading our pretentious efforts: “Boring Boring Boring!”

So best advice: don’t be boring.

Jules Marshall

“Who, What, Where, When, How, and Why are your only honest friends.”

– submitted by Paul Wiggins

“Omit needless words.” – Strunk & White

“Everyone has a story to tell.” – late Elden R. Groves, Editor Emeritus, Farm and Dairy

– submitted by Susan Crowell

“Shake as many hands as possible. You never know who could be useful or helpful down the line.”

– submitted by Kase Wickman

“Never think you’re too good for PR”.

– submitted by Elizabeth Pears

The best advice I ever received is if you’re having trouble starting an assignment, just “get the paper dirty.” Once you start writing, the ideas will start to flow.

Lauren Irwin

“Know your audience.”

These three words are key to communication and the best journalism is crap without communication. This isn’t merely what do audiences want to know (that part alone leads to gossip/entertainment news overload) but what they need to know and what you need to do to engage them to make message clear.

Susan Kille

“Marry someone who understands journalism.”

– submitted by Jake Batsell, who was given the sage advice by veteran journalist Walter Cronkite when Jake was an undergrad at Arizona State. Jake will soon celebrate his seventh anniversary with Tracy Everbach, a fellow journalism professor and former reporter.


And here’s a few more from the web:

“Everything comes down to being able to write well. Before you write well, forget Facebook, Twitter, etc. And you learn to write well by reading lots of good stuff and write a lot yourself. And find a good editor!”

Ben Hammersley, editor, Wired Magazine

“If you think the story is worth doing, fight for it.”

Lester Graham, Great Lakes Radio Consortium


Dave Lee

So what’s the best I received? Not advice really, but a warning from my former editor Kim Jace: “Those pants are too hip-hop for the newsroom.” The remark was made about some pants I wore that had patches on them and were indeed hip-hoppy, but the lesson I gleaned is that people trust those who look trustworthy, that I shouldn’t dress for the job I had (an internship at the time), but the job I wanted, and that I could be more than I was at the time.

You can find more advice for journalists at the Online Journalism Blog and the Journerdism post 32 of the best real world career and life tips for new journalism graduates entering the newspaper industry.


Also on 10,000 Words:

How Twitter saved my career… and my life
25 Things I’ve Learned About Journalism
10 Things I wish they’d told me in J-School