Journalism is a pool staffed by distracted lifeguards and no matter how fancy your school is, your first week in a real newsroom will feel like a shove in the small of the back into 15 feet of water. Most of us come up for air eventually, but if you’re like journalist and educator Colleen Steffen, you may still be left feeling like all that training in inverted pyramids and question lists left something important out: you!
Journalism is people managing, wrestling truth and story out of the messy, confusing raw material that is a human being, and the messiest human involved can often be the reporter themselves. So it’s time to talk about it. Instead of nervously skirting the sizable EQ (emotional intelligence) portion of this IQ (intelligence intelligence) enterprise, Soft Skills for the New Journalist explores how it FEELS to do this strange, hard, amazing job—and how to use those feelings to better your work and yourself.
Table of Contents
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction: Welcome and congratulations! You’ve chosen well
Chapter 1: A is for Attitude
Chapter 2: I went to college with an electric typewriter, and other cautionary tales
Chapter 3: Finally we get to the important stuff
Chapter 4: So something shiny caught your eye
Chapter 5: Working on your pitch (not the sports kind, sorry)
Chapter 6: Editors have the worst ideas
Chapter 7: Hi, stranger! The in-person approach
Chapter 8: Can’t I just email???
Chapter 9: The shy person’s guide to not dying inside while on assignments
Chapter 10: Not everyone is going to like you (unreasonable but true)
Chapter 11: All about sources
Chapter 12: Take a flying (imaginative) leap
Chapter 13: The all-important nutgraf
Chapter 14: So … I’m supposed to say what to this person?
Chapter 15: OK! Finally! Interviewing!
Chapter 16: Journalism magic—it’s a thing!
Chapter 17: Or maybe just shut up for a minute
Chapter 18: Don’t rush off to lunch just yet
Chapter 19: Yes, you still need a notebook
Chapter 20: Don’t be a banker
Chapter 21: Get in shape
Chapter 22: To outline or not to outline
Chapter 23: "I hate writing; I love having written."—Dorothy Parker
Chapter 24: But also … try this to love writing a little more
Chapter 25: Get your crap together
Chapter 26: How to tell when you’re done
Chapter 27: A word about grammar
Chapter 28: Developing a journalist’s conscience
Chapter 29: The day after
Chapter 30: Speaking of what other people think …
Chapter 31: You did it! You’re done!
Chapter 32: WWNBD? (What would Nellie Bly do?)
Chapter 33: Keep your head in the game
Chapter 34: I believe in you! Goodbye!
A Kentucky native, Colleen Steffen earned her B.A. in journalism from Franklin College (go Grizzlies!) in Franklin, Ind., and her M.A. in English literature from the University of North Florida—but honestly she learned most what she knows the hard way, at four different daily newspapers in three different states. Stereotypically restless, she has dabbled in PR, historic preservation, 100-year-old crime investigation, and keeping a small child out of traffic. She also spent more than five years teaching future journalists at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., where she currently freelances and lives with her husband, daughter and vicious weiner-mutt. She decided to be a writer when she was 7, and she’s never been sorry yet.