In the age of blogs, it seems like everyone can be a journalist. If you have an interest in the field and would like to pursue it by getting some real training from professionals, there are many places where such training is available, from local papers to big colleges.
- Volunteer at your local paper. Whether you live in a community with a population of fifty or a million, you can probably find opportunities to get journalism training with your local paper. The upside is, you won't have to pay for it. The downside is, you probably won't get paid for your work either. Small and medium sized towns probably provide the best opportunities: They may need people to supplement their staffs and report on small events. Bigger papers may offer similar opportunities to write up neighborhood happenings or news blurbs, but there may be more competition for these openings. It's still worth checking out. Contact your local paper and see what opportunities might exist. You will have to follow guidelines and deadlines, get on-the-job experience and interact with an editor. All of this is good training.
- Shadow a professional. Maybe your local paper doesn't have a spot for you to actually contribute. That doesn't mean you still can't use that paper to get some journalism training. Ask if you can follow a journalist on his or her daily routine someday. You can see what they do, where they go, how they handle interviews and research. You will have a chance to ask questions, too. It also provides a good chance to network. Maybe the paper you call doesn't allow job shadowing, but then again, maybe it does. You won't know until you give it a try. And if the first paper says no, try another one.
- Ask at an e-zine. The internet, as mentioned, is filled with blogs and e-zines and other places in need of content and reporters. If you're interested in journalism, surf the next for small sites you respect and see if they are taking trainees, interns, or even contributors. Many small, high-quality e-zines (online magazines) exist and usually, they have a need for content. This is often because they can't afford to pay professional writers and thus, don't attract them.
So, there's your opening! Ask the e-zine editors if they provide writers with editorial feedback and help; in other words, is this a good place where a beginner can learn a little about the field? If they say yes, working for a small e-zine or even a blog can provide you with a great training ground while also giving you a chance to compile published pieces for use applying to future jobs.
- Take a class. Journalism is definitely something you learn by doing, but that doesn't mean there aren't a lot of bare bones basics, writing techniques, tricks of the trade and elements of the craft to learn, too. Many of these can be learned journalism class. You can also learn a lot from a teacher who has had experience "in the trenches." That's why so many top journalists begin in journalism school. If you're not looking to do a whole degree, that's fine. Just look around at local colleges and adult education centers and see if there's a journalism class being offered. If there is, why not take it? The more you know about the basics, the better. And many classes mandate students do actual reporting and interviewing, so you will get some hands-on experience, too.