How to be a Modern Journalist: A Discussion with Aaron Edwards

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For young aspiring journalists, taking the first steps into the fast-paced world of news reporting can be somewhat of a challenge. You’re young, fresh out of college, not very experienced but very eager to make a name for yourself within the industry…so how do you do it?

For Ithaca College alum and Buzzfeed‘s News app editor Aaron Edwards, it was all about keeping an open mind. Students in the Mobile and Media Journalism class at the college got a chance to chat with him via Skype to find out what it really takes to be successful in this business.

“Be more open to what your fist job might look like than what you anticipated it to be,” Edwards says. “Being open to things is better than being closed off by them.”

Sure, the first jobs a budding news reporter might apply for would be for newspapers and broadcasting channels. However, the way we consume and report media is constantly changing, which means that those just starting out in the business must be willing to adapt to the latest methods of news reporting. That may mean starting off with a job in a field that may not be ideal. There’s often a preconceived notion that to be a reporter you have to start off, well, as a reporter. Nowadays, the need for reporters isn’t as high as the demand for social media experts–but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be forever stuck within a branch you didn’t want to be in.

“The technology industry keeps beating journalism, so people become really valuable when they know how to use all social media,” he says.

That isn’t to say that all the traditional techniques of old-school reporting should be tossed out the window. According to Edwards, it’s still very important to maintain a strong reporting and writing background. Although it might seem as if news reports may be getting shorter and more to the point, journalists should still have a grasp for traditional news formats. I mean, you wouldn’t stop teaching kids how to read just because there’s a text-to-speech app on almost every technological apparatus…at least, I’d hope you wouldn’t…

But the most important piece of advice Edwards gives is probably one that most of us overlook.

“When you start off, dedicate yourself to the work you’re doing,” he says. “Own the fact that you’re there. Throw yourself into your job; don’t start off by trying to impress other people.”

During his days as a young intern for The Associated Press, the best work Edwards did was a result of him sitting head-down at his desk, for hours on end, and focusing solely on his tasks at hand.

“Give people a reason to come to you. Don’t give them a reason to ignore you.”

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