Journalists should get snap happy – and here’s an incentive

A picture is worth a thousand words…

Don’t worry; we at Hacks haven’t resorted to just spouting clichés and quotes at you we have a point to make and that point is all about the value of the photograph.

Photography is a subject we have neglected on Hacks and this is something we are rather embarrassed about. Having all been section editors or editor-in-chief of our student newspaper we know from first hand experience how important a photo is to a piece of journalism and to a newspaper or magazine in general.

In fact, issues with photos even prompted both myself and The Student to become ‘photographers’ for the paper, covering sport fixtures and providing images for news stories. Are either of us experts? No. Are we going to be pros in the future? No. All we had were cameras, of varying quality, and a recognition of the importance of a photograph.

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NFD: some obscure and obvious freelancing tips

If – like me – this is your first National Freelancers Day then you’ll be sharing in my unbridled excitement.

Just like when old Saint Nick slides down our chimney chutes the NFD is a great excuse to revel in the merriment and help your fellow freelancing man… All we need now is a horrendously alcoholic cake and a drunken family punch up and the holiday is complete!

As an NFD gift to you I am sharing in a few personal freelancing lessons learned… a couple the hard way.

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‘Pitch Perfect’: Paul Bolding’s feedback #2


Over the past week or so – to celebrate today ‘National Freelance Day‘ – we’ve been asking people to send in their article pitches for our experienced editor Paul Bolding. We’ve had some great pitches and some equally interesting feedback from Paul so thanks to everyone for contributing to our online freelancing workshop/experiment.

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Five tips to get more traffic according to expert blogger Katie Lee

Katie Lee (@ShinyKatie) very kindly came into my technology specialism class to give a talk about blogging.

Katie Lee

She’s well qualified to do so too: founder of blogging network Shiny Shiny, currently director of Miramus Ltd, a publishing company specialising in web content, and blogger at Dork Adore and Good Hooking (about knitting, obviously).

She whizzed through the basics of how to blog but gave some very handy tips to getting your work seen by more than just your coursemates/friends/family. We will be employing all of the below because there’s a lot at Wannabe Hacks which we don’t do particularly well and which we could certainly improve on…

1. Set targets to extend your community

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The reading list: Week 13

It’s that time again when we let you know what journalists, journals and online articles have been the focus of our hack-ttention in the past seven days.

Reading List Photo

Credit: Flickr user adam & lucy

Please let us know of any other interesting blogs/sites/articles by commenting below, emailing us at or tweeting us (@wannabehacks). Here goes…

I am kicking off this week with something I expect a lot of you will have seen, but if you haven’t you should be reading it (whether you agree with Rusbridger or not) – I am of course referring to Alan Rusbridger’s latest essay / lecture on the media industry: The splintering of the fourth estatea small excerpt below, but it is 5000 words long, so make sure you have a cuppa to hand:

“I want to discuss the possibility that we are living at the end of a great arc of history, which began with the invention of moveable type. There have, of course, been other transformative steps in communication during that half millennium – the invention of the telegraph, or radio and television, for instance – but essentially they were continuations of an idea of communication that involved one person speaking to many. That’s not dead as an idea. But what’s happening today – the mass ability to communicate with each other, without having to go through a traditional intermediary – is truly transformative.”

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It’s all about online journalism. Isn’t it?

City University have recently announced a new Masters degree: An Interactive Journalism MA which offers:

  • Data Journalism | Sourcing, reporting and presenting stories through data-driven journalism
    and visualising and presenting data (databases, mapping and other interactive graphics).
  • Online Communities | Developing and managing online communities including social media – in the changing relationship of journalists with consumers.
  • Content Management | Understanding and using the content management systems that underlie online journalism.

These are all useful skills which will be supplemented by other core modules from City’s offerings, but it left me wondering whether City are ahead of the curve or behind it?

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‘Pitch Perfect’: Paul Bolding’s feedback #1

We’ve had a good response to ‘Pitch Perfect’: our online freelancing workshop-come-experiment designed to give YOU the chance to pitch to an experienced former editor.


It’s taught us, even more than previously, that pitching is an artform. Packing enough details into a 100 words or so (who you’re speaking to, why them, someone from the opposite view) whilst giving the editor a sense of the piece is a tough balencing act. We had the following pitch, from a young lady known as ‘Mel’ who had a good stab at it…

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Guest Post – Sarah Moore: TV journalism

This week – in a Hacks special – we look at a Wanna-‘be’ and a Wanna-‘been’ in the TV journalism industry. Our Wanna-‘been’ is the award-winning TV journalist Sarah Moore who has worked with ITN, ITV, GMTV and now lectures in broadcast journalism at Salford University.

Sarah is a journalist that has traveled and reported all over the world. Basically, she has bags of experience and that means there’s lots of advice… Here it is.

Lesson number 1: you do not break into television expecting it to be glamorous!
Sarah Moore #4

Of course elements of the job can be. It’s pretty glamorous being sent to Paris Fashion Week. It’s not however glamorous when you’ve been given just a few hours to get there and you’re not exactly dressed for the occasion or able to speak the same language as your crew.

I’ve spent the past ten years working in television news. I was very fortunate to get my first job at ITV Central in Birmingham, one of the best regional news stations. It was a big step for someone straight out of a post-grad course in Broadcast Journalism at the Cardiff Journalism School.

So how did I break into the industry known to be one of the most cut-throat and competitive of them all?

Lesson number 2: sleep is for wimps; a life is something you can have another time.

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Guest Post – Charlotte Hawkins: TV journalism

This week – in a Hacks special – we look at a Wanna-‘be’ and a Wanna-‘been’ in the TV journalism industry. Our Wanna-‘be’ is Charlotte Hawkins, who blogs here and currently interns at the Discovery Channel…

Charlotte Hawkins

Just like some of the Wannabe Hacks I too graduated this year and am now trying my hand at breaking into journalism. In my case, however, it’s the TV journo industry that I want to crack.

When I first researched a career in television I came across several horror stories of wannabes being exploited through “work experience” schemes. I have indeed experienced this myself, to an extent. The majority of the professionals I have encountered have been lovely, but there’s nothing more infuriating than working for nothing for a month only to overhear on your last day that it’s me who should be thanking them with the cake.

Also – in spite of the placements I have managed to secure – I am still distinctly lacking in show-reel material. Having decided only recently on this career path I (regretfully) only got involved with my Uni TV station during my final year. Dissertations certainly hindered my participation.

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Podcast #3: student protests – demo debate

It’s the Wannabe Hacks podcast pounding your ears once again!

This week The Chancer and The Intern get a little heated over the coverage of the Student Demo 2010…

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