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Top Tips for a Successful Journalism Career

Leading journalists spoke to Macleay students at the Journalism Internship Workshop this month. They gave some fantastic advice on how to get startedin the media and make the most of the Macleay journalism course.

The Experts:

Shelley Horton is Co-Host of HealthyMeTV and a regular guest on SunriseThe Morning Show,Weekend Sunrise and The Daily Edition. Shelley also runs her own media training business

Kenny Heatley has a host of big name employers under his belt: Sky News Australia, XYZ Networks,Nova Entertainment, Foxtel, Austereo and Capital Radio Network.

Joel Labi was morning newsreader at 2GB from 2009 to 2014. He has also anchored coverage for 2Olympic Games and several elections.


The Advice:

1. Social Media: Embrace and Adapt or Die

Shelley says “there are now people looking at your social media numbers and deciding if they wantto employ you”. So be active on social media, update your blog and pictures, embrace it and adapt.Shelley says with social media “be real” – she has gotten more likes for a pictures of her sweating itout at the gym looking like Gollum than glamorous pictures on the red carpet.

2.  Cut your Teeth in a Regional Market
Getting your dream role in the big city on radio or in front of the camera straight after graduating
rarely, if ever, happens. Kenny got his first gig as a reporter in the Snowy Mountains doing the snow  report and many other big name professionals have worked in regional radio or news. Getting experience in a regional market like this can be easier than trying to make a break in the city and then, with some experience under your belt, you can be ready to move onto something bigger. He adds “don’t think it’s scary [moving to a regional town] it’s really fun”.
3. Study and Work: Make it Work
Joel first started working at 2GB while still studying. He says it was tough sometimes to juggle the
two but if you get the opportunity, do it! “Make it work.”
journalism internship workshop
4. All Experience is Good Experience
Kenny says: “If you’re in the media, it doesn’t matter if it’s out of the box, it’s all good experience.”
So if you want to be a foreign correspondent and you get a job giving the traffic report on radio, take it. It’s all experience that you will get you closer to where you want to be.
5. Get Contacts and Keep Them
Both Kenny and Joel advise for you to get good contacts and keep them. Kenny says: “Keep in touch,
network and be likable”. Anything else can be taught but you can’t teach likeability or a great personality, and employers know this. Joel also shares a story about networking and LinkedIn. When he first moved to New York he contacted over 100 people and only 5 replied. He says that was 5 good contacts that he didn’t have before though and he keeps in touch with them now through emails and coffee catch-ups.
6. Life Can Change Quickly 
Don’t beat yourself up if things aren’t going well, life can change in one day. Shelley, Joel and Kenny all agree with this. Each of them has had times in their careers where they’ve gone from nothing one day to literally waking up the next with a great opportunity.

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