1500-2000 words. Journalism Briefing – Professional Development Plan

| December 30, 2015

Assessment 3 Briefing – Professional Development Plan
Word length – 1500-2000 words
You should post your plan on your blogs. You can write one long post or do a series of posts, whose combined word count is 1500-2000.
The idea behind this assessment is to get you to start thinking more about your own personal and professional development, so that you can make the most of your time on the course and can graduate in a good position to get the kind of job you want.
We also want you to think about jobs in journalism in a different way, to move beyond traditional roles and platforms and think more about the different things journalists actually do. We also want to build your professional awareness of how modern journalists work, what skills and knowledge they need to succeed.
You should try to answer two key questions in this plan:
• What kind of journalist do you want to be when you graduate?
• What do you need to learn while on the course to be that kind of journalist?
The best way to put your plan together would be to write three different sections.
Section 1 – Analysing publications and journalists you admire
This should focus on the places you want to work and journalists you admire. Start by picking a place you want to work – it could be a print or online publication, a magazine, a broadcast programme, a channel, a website or blog. Explain what’s good about the place you choose, say why it’s good and why you want to work there.
Next, pick a journalist whose work you admire. Explain why you admire them. Pick an example of their work – a story, feature, column, documentary, whatever you like. Try to describe the work and what’s good about it. Try to work out how the journalist got the story – think about the skills they needed, the access and the specialist knowledge.
We will do some work on this in class – you can obviously use this work as part of your plan.
Section 2 – What type of journalist do you want to be?
We talked about this in the lecture and classes at the end of the module. I think the best way to develop your ideas is to try to answer a series of questions
1. Are you interested in traditional public interest journalism, holding power to account, playing the fourth estate role? Or are you more interested in service journalism and entertainment?
2. Would like to be a staff journalist, working in the office? Or would you prefer to be freelancer, developing your own ideas and running your own finances? Or would you prefer to start your own journalistic operation?
3. Are you interesting in getting out there and getting stories and then writing them up or do you prefer being in the office, working more on production, design and subbing? Are you more interested in generating ideas and taking an editorial role?
4. Do you want to be a generalist – able to write about lots of different things – or do you want to be a specialist – what American journalists call a beat reporter?
5. Where do you fit in with the four types of journalist mapped out by Matt Thompson in the blog post we discussed in class? Do you want to be a storyteller, a newshound, a system analyst or a provocateur? Or a combination of two or more types?
Try to answer these questions and think about why you’ve answered them the way you have. Use your answers to put together an overview explaining the kind of journalist you see yourself being in the future.
Section 3 – What do you need to do to become that kind of journalist?
For this section, you need to think about the skills you need to develop and the knowledge you need to gain. We looked at this in class a bit – you now need to write something more specific on the media/journalism you plan to consume, the options you’re planning to do on the course and the work placements that might help you in your career aims.
Your media diet
You looked at your media diet earlier on in the module. Now you need to think about planning a media diet that will help you with your career plans.
So come up with a list of publications you should be reading, online and off, websites, TV shows, radio programmes etc. Try to explain why these are going to be useful. Come up with list of key bloggers in the area you’re interested in and key people to follow on Twitter. Come up with a list of at least 20 bloggers/people on Twitter in total.
Your option choices
Next, plan your option choices for Year 2 and Year 3. We will go over these in the penultimate workshop on the module. There will also be a more detailed handout on Blackboard. In Year 2, you will be able to choose two options in Semester 2 – from a wide range. In Year 3, you will be able to choose one or two options, depending on whether you do a long Dissertation or a shorter Extended Essay.
Try to work out which options will help you develop the skills, knowledge and subject expertise you will need. Obviously, you can change your mind – you won’t have to choose your options until the end of next semester – and you don’t have to choose the ones you outline here. But what we’re looking for is for you to think a bit about which options might work best for you.
Work Placements
Finally think about where you might want to do work placements and internships that could help you in your long-term career plans. You will have to do an assessed work placement as part of your Year 3 module Media Futures. But before then, it’s good to do as many placements as you can. They can be a great way of testing and developing your skills and professional awareness and of building the contacts that will get your stories and jobs in the future.
The university’s Work Placement team publishes a list of current placements in journalism and the media on Blackboard. Have a look at that to see if any would work for you. Do some research online with companies you’re interested in, to identify placement schemes and opportunities that would work for you.
Put together a list of three places you could apply, with contact details and details of the placement and why it would work for you.
One last thing – make sure your blog works as a professional portfolio
You should post your professional development plan in your blogs, either as a series of posts or as single post. If you publish a series of posts, please create an appropriate category for them (Assessment 3 or PDP) so it’s easy to find them and mark them.
You also need to make sure your blogs work as showcases for your work. So make sure you remove all default content and add personal details so that the blog is recognisably yours. Write up an About page that explains you and your journalistic aims. Add a picture of yourself.
Make sure you add appropriate widgets to the sidebar. Add things that help people navigate your blog (Categories, Archives, Recent Posts), things that show your online presence elsewhere (Twitter links, Instagram pictures, Delicious links) and things that link what you’re doing to the wider network (feeds from other sites, lists of links to bloggers you admire).
When we mark this assessment, we will look first at the professional development plan:
• How thought through it is?
• Does it reflect some real thinking about journalism and the different jobs that are out there?
• Does it show a real attempt to analyse the work of professional journalists and apply the knowledge gained to your own work and career plans?
• Does it demonstrate an ability to plan ahead and take charge of your own learning and development on the course?
But we will also look at how well you use your blogs as personal and professional showcases.

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