Advice from Kate Allen

Firstly: though this is more and more difficult to do these days without being enrolled in a good journalism program, take every available opportunity to practice actual journalism (rather than simply talking about practicing actual journalism). Journalism is a profession you learn better by doing than by studying, so every offer you get, no matter how piddling, take it. Even the stupidest assignments often blossom into something better if you show how smart and eager you are, and even if they don’t, all experience is good experience. So when you find yourself in the middle of an opportunity to do journalism, knock it out of the park. Pitch ideas and stay late.

And on that note, my 2nd piece of advice is to know that pitching is not the sole domain of freelancers. Even in big newsrooms, I’ve found that pitching is the most important skill a reporter can have. You would be shocked the percentage of news that is not news per se, but the brainchild of some curious reporter. So start looking at the world with your story-idea eyes. Every funny anecdote your friends tell you, every weird unexplained brief in the newspaper, everything you read on Twitter, think about how you can generate a story out of it and then write it down. Repeat. The only constant I’ve discovered in what journo-bosses are looking for when they hire is “curiosity,” and what they mean by that is a certain way of looking at the world. Practice that.

About Kate

Kate Allen

  • Name: Kate Allen
  • J-school: UBC School of Journalism
  • Current/Past employers: Currently staff reporter at the Toronto Star. Past employers include the Globe and Mail and Toronto Life.
  • Publications in which her work has appeared: The Star, the Globe and Mail, Toronto Life, BC Business, the Tyee, the Vancouver Sun.
  • Platforms she works in: Print, online (no such thing as print reporter without online, doyeee!)
  • Twitter: @katecallen
  • Sample work: A look inside the G20 ‘kettle’ at Queen and Spadina (The Globe and Mail)