It’s often hard for young journalists to break through the so-called ‘glass-ceiling’. To pitch their stories to big outlets, to get their names out and build a network of editors interested in their topics. We have collected advice from experienced journalists and media trainers for young journalists who want to take their career to a next level.
How to pitch?
Media trainer, Arzu Geybulla, believes that pitching to big media outlets works if good research has been done on the publication. Journalist should look for the kind of stories publishers are interested in and their tone. She encourages others to try pitching again even if they haven’t heard anything back in a while. Little, nice reminders are ok.
‘The most important thing is to be persistent but not annoying. Always coat your pitch with doses of charm.’
And then? How to make a good story great.
MENAC coordinator, Pascale Müller believes that the most important thing while writing is keeping in mind the story. To her there is an essential difference between an article and a story. Since she is specialized in long-form journalism she sees her pieces as a film before she starts writing.
‘I always think of what would be the first scene. I have a lot of post-its hanging in my room. I keep a system: Blue ones for scenes, red ones for characters and then I start making a story board’
She also advices journalists to talk to people about the story in order to see if they understand it:
‘I usually call my mom. I tell her the storyline if she doesn’t understand I have to change it.’
Pascale also encourages journalists to challenge themselves, think about big topics and try to write longer, in-depth pieces.
All about the money?
Often freelancers do not have the time to work on long-format stories nor money to pay upfront for months of research. Egyptian journalist Basma Elmahdy, who recently received a full-time scholarship for a Erasmus Mundus Master program advices young journalists to find opportunities to apply for international internships, fellowships and grants.
She advices journalists to seek for help wherever they can before applying: Contact former fellows on twitter and open an excel sheet with different deadlines and forms information.
More practical tips are to be honest with an employer if you want to leave, make sure you get a recommendation letter that has the relevant information in it. It is especially important to mention media outlets in which previous work has been published, so funders know about who they will be able to reach.
Special grants for Female Journalists are offered by the IWMF, the International Women Media Foundation. Grants are given to stories on women issues. Here too, reaching out to old fellows and being aware of the audience definitely helps.
The Inclusive Media training is supported by the German Foreign Ministry, the German Institute for Foreign Affairs (ifa), the International Women Media Foundation (IWMF), the European Youth Press and the Syrian Female Journalist Network (SFJN).