Anonymous asked: Is there a place here for anyone seriously interested in writing and journalism, yet has no formal education or background in either?

Dear Anonymous,

We’re not sure what you mean by “here” but if we are to assume you are either referring to the FJP or to the media-journo-tech-space in general, then yes, and yes.

Firstly, interest in writing and journalism is all it takes to produce writing and journalism. So we hope you’re doing both. 

Whether you are getting paid for publishing this work is another story, but the internet has plenty of resources to get it out there and get feedback from smart, interesting people. Our formula for production is essentially: be curious, try it out, practice, fail, try again, ask the pro’s for help. Keep doing it.

Michael’s advice: write and report wherever you can. A hiring manager or editor is going to look at your work, not where you went to school. (It’s true, even at a place like Columbia, hiring managers are mainly going through our resumes to see what sort of stories we’ve reported.) You can do this by hooking up with a like-minded friend to report on something, or go out and do it yourself. Establish a visible expertise in something, so if you’re pitching an article, you can point to something that shows you know what you’re talking about and you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty.

As CUNY Professor CW Anderson says in our interview with him, “Whatever else you do, write on your own regularly…most of the time that’s starting a blog. Some day the crisis [in journalism] will be gone, we hope. And when that happens you don’t want to have not written a word for 3 years.”

Whether one needs a formal education or background in journalism is sort of an age-old question at this point. I personally don’t think you need one, though the FJP is run by a J-school grad, and I’m in J-school myself, so who am I to speak.

I had the same question as you before I decided on J-school and most of the feedback I got from people was that I shouldn’t waste my money going to Columbia. I decided to ignore the advice because a formal education in journalism certainly does help with networking, provides you with great feedback and attention, and it’s kind of nice to be in a space that’s on top of innovation, with people to collaborate with, and has the funds to let you make things and talk to people about how best to make things.

At the same time, a bit of initiative can get you similar feedback outside of formal schooling. Build out a social media network for yourself, ask people questions on twitter, send e-mails to writers you respect. 

If you choose to be un-anonymous, you can always e-mail us more about you and we’d be happy to chat.

All that said… welcome! —Jihii

  1. futurejournalismproject posted this