Advice from Devon Wong

I got into journalism before I even realized there was an academic field that encouraged voyeurism! I was always a very curious person that would shamelessly approach strangers with questions. I think it’s important to have that natural interest inherent in the profession, because I think there’s a growing trend of people going into the field thinking it’s all about presentation or the glamour of holding a microphone. Journalism is about facilitating a conversation between your audience and your subject. You have to bridge that gap of accessibility.

As someone who’s still in the process of ‘getting into journalism’, I would suggest honing your craft by taking up as many opportunities as you can possibly get your hands on.There are a million publications out there with various beats just looking for contributors with a genuine interest in the subject matter. Write about dogs! Write about knitting! Review a spa! Learn to differentiate your voice.

With the prevalence of the Internet now, it’s a benefit to be able to access a larger audience and post content with ease… but remember there’s also a saturation of junk out there. People have plenty more options of blogs to read and sites to visit. With that said, by at least having a pool of content that’s been published on different webzines, you build your credibility as a web journalist. And don’t just rely on your credentials, people want to see your body of work. Ultimately your education is one line on your resume; expect to build the rest of your portfolio through your work experience.

Also a word of advice: Everyone has to work for free at the beginning. As with most creative industry jobs, you have to expect to pay your dues. The start may be laborious, but remember the payoff: You get to do something you love! (or at least should love!) That’s step one. But if you plan to make this your career, be realistic about when to draw the line and start valuing yourself. No one will pay you if you don’t expect to be. Remember, it’s nice to be liked, but better to be paid 🙂

About Devon

Devon Wong

  • Name: Devon Wong
  • J-school: None. UBC Sociology graduate, BA in 2010
  • Current/Past employers: David Suzuki Foundation, Make Believe Media, Samsung, Chum Radio, Vancouver Community Television
  • Publications in which her work has appeared: Schema Magazine, The Open Mouth, MSN Canada homepage, http://www.davidsuzuki.org, Shaw TV
  • Platforms she works in: online video, print, broadcast, social media
  • Website: www.devonwong.com
  • Twitter: @writefullydevon
  • Sample work: The last piece I did for Schema was a video interview before the holidays with Filmmaker Jeff Chiba Stearns
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