Advice from Stuart Thompson

Volunteer at your student newspaper. Hands down the best advice in the business. There are journalism programs you can pay thousands of dollars for, but nothing beats the hands-on experience you get — for FREE — at a campus paper. I spent two years studying journalism at the college level, which is hands on. But I learned infinitely more in an active newsroom environment where it was journalism-by-fire and trial-by-error.

Get on Twitter. First, you can network with other journalists and actually find jobs. Second, you can find sources for the stories you should be writing daily. And finally, it’s a necessary skill for journalists these days. I just got back from the mayor’s “State of the City” address and I was live-tweeting the entire thing. This is the same practice done by city reporters at newspapers around the world.

The essential truth is you have to get involved or you’re not going to succeed in journalism. Formal education is fine, but it’s not enough, and often pales in comparison to the tangible experience and portfolio-building you can achieve at campus papers. The only reason I have a summer job lined up at the Globe & Mail is my work at the Gazette — my degree and journalism education was only the key that unlocked the Gazette’s door. Yet I still see countless journalism masters students spending four years of undergrad claiming to be passionate about journalism and never getting involved or even trying journalism before paying more money for even more education. It’s beguiling.

About Stuart

Stuart Thompson

Name: Stuart Thompson
J-school: The Gazette (just kidding… I did two years at Sheridan for print journalism and four years at Western in media studies)
Current/Past employers: – Editor-in-Chief, The Gazette (2010/11)
– News & Web Editor, The Gazette (2009/10)
– IT Consultant, the University of Western Ontario (2009/10)
Publications in which his work has appeared:
The Gazette, The Beat (London arts magazine), The Alumni Gazette (Western’s alumni magazine)
Platforms he works in:  Print, video and some audio in print, online and social media
Twitter: @stuartatgazette
Sample work: The New Western (The Gazette)