My name is Eliza and I’m a nineteen-year-old journalism student at QUT. I’m hoping to work as an arts journalist when I graduate with music being my particular interest. I’m especially interested in the ‘independent’ side of the industry and I’d like to live and work in the UK.
There’s quite a distance between where I am now and where I want to be, of course, but a SWOT analysis of me and my career goal is a useful tool in assessing how I can get there.
I am interning at a music website, The Dwarf, where I work as a sub-editor for the live music section. This has given me plenty of experience writing live reviews, and I have worked with PR companies whilst requesting access for other contributors, giving me the opportunity to start getting my name circulating in the industry. I have also been blogging for a few years on a personal blog covering fashion, art, travel, music and food. My writing is definitely one of my biggest strengths – it’s something I love and something I am good at. Aside from actual experience in the area, I’m very driven and willing to work hard and work for free because it is an area I desperately want to pursue. I follow arts/music news quite closely and strive to stay up to date, and build my knowledge of the industry in general. I have the ability to be objective. Arts/music journalism can become fraught when it comes to PR relationships. It is important to walk a fine line between maintaining strong professional relationships with PR professionals (as they are extremely important in arts journalism as an access point) and maintaining credibility as an honest journalist. I am studying PR as well as journalism, not only because it is something I’m interested in career-wise, but also to gain a more thorough understanding of the industry. My internship at The Dwarf has given me the opportunity to review many bands and I’ve learnt a lot about being objective and offering criticism, as well as credit, where it is due.
I am a quiet person and fairly shy which has presented some challenges. I tend to be extremely nervous before interviews and I find it hard to talk to someone ‘on the fly.’ I am alright when I’ve got notes, time, and a set of questions, but if I have to make a conversation flow and there is a camera in front of me, I freeze up fairly badly. I need to build my confidence and ability to project a positive image, and work on my interviewing skills. It’s also important for any journalist to be across social media and have a strong online image and presence, which is an area I have to work on. Music and arts journalism work may be freelance and may also involve me writing pieces that are entirely mine from concept to final product. This is an area I need to work on as I am still developing my own voice and though I find it easy to write about a given topic or issue, I still need to practice coming up with my own concepts for stories.
Besides university, work experience seems to be one of the most important factors in moving into the journalism industry. I love working for the The Dwarf and I am learning a lot from it, so I will continue interning there as long as it is feasible. I also need to find other work experience opportunities in both journalism and PR to gain further experience and build contacts. I’m hoping to do a year of Honours studies which will make my course four years long – this is important if I want to work overseas because there are countries that only recognise university degrees that are at least four years long. Next year I am hoping to do a semester of study in London so I have a circle of contacts in the city.
There are a number of challenges standing in the way of my dream career. Perhaps the most significant is that journalism as a whole is in the midst of immense amounts of change and the industry is still finding ways of making digital journalism profitable. This coupled with the fact that music journalism is a fairly small sector of the industry means that paid music journalism work is few and far between. ‘Citizen Journalism’ and the amount of free music news and information available also present a monetisation challenge, and there is plenty of competition for jobs as it is an area that appeals to many people.
Until next time,