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4 Mind-Blowing Things I Learned as a Trainee Journalist

These are the 4 mind-blowing things I learned as a trainee journalist and how they helped me get from scaredy-cat to fierce interviewer in less than 3 years.


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Eliza Lita

3 months ago | 4 min read
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Journalism is probably the most underrated and misunderstood field to work in. When I landed (quite literally landed, as I had no idea what I was getting into) on my Journalism course back in 2018, I found out I was, in fact, not the only clueless one. Most of the 50-something people who started that course were equally misinformed or even uninformed about the profession altogether.

As it turned out, for many of them, it had been the wrong decision, seeing that less than half of us actually finished the course. Looking back, I could have been in the quitters’ group too. Once I fully grasped what journalism was demanding of me, I felt like I’d just done the ice bucket challenge.

I had to…talk to people? People I didn’t know? And learn shorthand? Then go to court and use it to transcribe entire trials? I had to approach strangers? And ask them questions about their…lives?

As BBC journalist Sophia Smith Galer recently put it in a TikTok, journalism basically means closely following people online, chasing them up, and asking them really personal questions, which you then share with the entire world. No wonder people think we’re jerks.

But here’s the deal. I fell in love with journalism during the course of getting my qualification. Although I’m not exactly keen to take the traditional route into local reporting, there are many aspects to the profession that quite literally shaped who I am.

Three years ago I was a completely different person. 100-something interviews with strangers, several TV and radio bulletins, and many, many hours of reporting later, I’m probably the strongest and wisest version of myself. Here’s why.

Getting to Know People and Their Stories

This is the cheesiest, but most realistically beautiful thing about journalism. Once you learn to navigate your social anxiety and become a bit better at approaching people, you get to hear the most fascinating stories. Most, if not all of my 100-something interviews to date caused me severe anxiety, although it got easier with time and experience.

But I don’t regret any of them for one second. I got to meet the only bookbinder in West Yorkshire and see how she manually restored medieval books. I spoke to one OCD sufferer who had worked alongside Mother Teresa to treat people with terminal illnesses in India. I spoke to a disability activist militating for better education and accessibility. I spoke to the two top names of the best law firm in the region who shared their business model.

Shall I go on? I get so wonderfully excited and sort of melty inside when I interview someone. And let me tell you a secret: everyone has a fascinating story. So why not find reasons to share those stories?

Using Scary Cool Equipment

I’ll be honest, I never was the most technology-savvy. But getting to practice all forms of journalism involved a lot of playing around with the scariest and most exciting equipment. From huge, professional cameras and boom mics, to radio and TV studios, to insanely smart software, the most thrilling experiences of my journalism degree were definitely those where I had to travel around with a pro kit and do all sorts of freakishly amazing content production.

This not only boosts your self-confidence immensely, but it teaches you to navigate a lot of different types of equipment, which then prepares you and helps you form an intuition towards other devices and programmes.

Exposing Issues that Matter

Journalism gives you a sense of duty too. Not only do you want to tell people’s stories, but you want to draw attention to the stories that matter the most. Like the story I covered about accessibility for disabled people, or one about retail staff getting abused by customers on a daily basis and how that affects their wellbeing. I also got to cover an emotional story about foreign nationals being stuck in the UK last Christmas and edit and produce a magazine that empowers single women who aren’t looking for a partner.

These stories, despite their probably small reach, are stories that had to be out there one way or another. And if I made one person think: oh, now I know how to approach a disabled person who looks like they need help, then my job is done.

Dealing With Refusal and Learning It’s Not About You

I was refused more times than I’d like to admit, as a young journalist. It’s a debilitating feeling. But the more you do it, the more you realise it’s a big part of life that you can’t avoid forever. Yes, as a journalist you probably expose yourself to a lot more chances to be refused than the average person. But it toughens you up better than anything else.

In the beginning, I used to think it was my fault. I was too young, I looked too uneasy, or I sounded too inexperienced. With time, I learned that it really wasn’t about me at all. People refuse journalists for so many reasons, that it will rarely if ever, be a personal issue. And this is a very important life skill to develop early on.

Learning to deal with refusal made me inherently more determined and less fazed by others’ decisions that influenced my circumstances. If someone says no, go ahead and ask someone else. There will always be someone else.

If you’re thinking to become a journalist or get a qualification in the field, I recommend it with all my heart. The thrill, the pace, the sense of duty, and every skill it teaches you will be incredible assets in your life outside of journalism. I certainly wouldn’t be who I am without it.


Thank you for reading! I’m, as you probably guessed, a qualified journalist, editor, and writer. I run books publication Coffee Time Reviews as a side-hustle when I’m not at my full-time communications job.This article was first published in Roll Titles, on Medium.

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Created by

Eliza Lita

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Editor, journalist and social media expert

Open for gigs✍️Writer. Niches: social media, books, writing, fitness, lifestyle. | Founder and editor: Coffee Time Reviews. | Library Mouse | Language nerd. I specialise in sourcing ideas and making your writing the best it can possibly be.


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