Author Topic: Masters in Journalism  (Read 1419 times)

Golden E. Pump

  • Basically Morris Day.
Masters in Journalism
« on: January 10, 2019, 01:49:54 PM »
I've decided to try and do a Masters in Journalism, hopefully specialising in music journalism. I'm looking to move to Brighton/London in September and apply for university in the South East. The only thing is I have a 2:2 in English & Creative Writing, rather than an expected 2:1. Is this feasible? Does anyone have any advice or relevant experience to share?

Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2019, 02:46:49 PM »
i dont have anything useful to add only to say that sounds like a really cool thing to do, and good luck.  I'm surely you'll be allowed on to the course with a 2:2. 

Neomod

  • Oh my genitals | I'm a janitor
Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2019, 02:54:36 PM »
Is there a living wage in music journalism any more?

Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2019, 03:21:55 PM »
Is there a living wage in music journalism any more?

I wondered that, unless you're Alex Petridish from The Guardian or editor of Metal Hammer magazine, it must be hard to make a living. Maybe from a website with ads or like that Fantano chap on YouTube you could get coins.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2019, 05:39:11 PM by confettiinmyhair »

Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2019, 03:33:30 PM »
Maybe don’t do it in journalism. If you have some other knowledge base you can use that to get your foot in the door. If you had a science degree for example, you could write about stuff related to that. Or if you know about the Middle East, you could write about that. I’m not sure how well respected journalistic degrees are in the industry. I know you said you want to do music journalism, but I’m not sure how feasible it is to get paid for that. But take my Middle East example: maybe you find some interesting band from the region and you do a Vice-style piece that brings in regional history/politics.

As for qualifications, it’s not my area so I dunno, but for graduate studies it’s always a good idea to choose places based on who might be your supervisor. So find some academics whose work you’re interested in and email them. Ask them questions about qualifications and what you could do to boost your application, but also what you might do your dissertation on (I assume you will write a dissertation, but as I say I don’t know about journalism, maybe they don’t require that).

Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2019, 03:38:53 PM »
2:2 makes no difference at all. They'll happily accept you on most MA's as soon as you've got the fees.

KennyMonster

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Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2019, 03:41:48 PM »
If you're a freelance music journalist living in the Brighton area things will get a bit Pricey.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2019, 05:30:56 PM by KennyMonster »

Wet Blanket

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Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2019, 03:52:43 PM »
If you've already got a degree I think the industry preferred qualification is a NCTJ diploma. If you want to be a music journalist you don't really need a qualification at all; you're better off buying the Writers and Artists Yearbook and pitching to editors.

Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2019, 07:14:42 PM »
Don't think it's a great idea unless the masters has some sort of scheme that helps you get a job in industry.  You'd be better off saving your money and going for work experience, you'll probably learn more off a fellow journalist than a lecturer.

Mister Six

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Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2019, 08:48:05 PM »
I've decided to try and do a Masters in Journalism, hopefully specialising in music journalism. I'm looking to move to Brighton/London in September and apply for university in the South East. The only thing is I have a 2:2 in English & Creative Writing, rather than an expected 2:1. Is this feasible? Does anyone have any advice or relevant experience to share?

If you actually want to be a journalist then a diploma will do fine. Masters are only really useful for people who want to get involved in journo-related academia. At least, that's what I was told on my own journalism diploma course (and they offered a follow-on Masters, so it's not like they had nothing to sell on that count).

To be honest if you want to get into magazine writing rather than hard news (and assuming things haven't changed in the past 13 years or so), you can probably get away with just working your way up from internships - assuming you can get in. As a business it's more about who you know than what you know, and the only useful thing you'll get from a formal education, unless I suppose there's a specific music/magazine journos course, is training on defamation law. Everything else in your standard journo course - shorthand, court reporting etc - is irrelevant.

The one other thing a formal education does help with is helping set you up with contacts, as unis might be able to get you in on work placement more easily, and of course your classmates and tutors will be able to recommend you for stuff over the years. In a network-intensive career like journalism this can be very, very helpful.

I've really only found my news diploma useful later on in my career - initially a few years in when I moved to China to work at a mag there, and more recently when I made a shift into news.

So yeah, if you want a formal education and contacts - diploma. If you're going academic - Masters. And if you already know people in the biz and are a decent writer - just have a crack.

thecuriousorange

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Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2019, 08:56:28 PM »
Dead soon.

Mister Six

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Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2019, 08:56:38 PM »
Oh, and in terms of career prospects, look seriously at the market. Journalism isn't a terribly well-paid career path, on the whole, and the more "glamorous" a job is, the shittier the pay will be. Although if you're young then the benefits (free gigs, meeting your heroes, backstage booze etc in music journalism) and the sheer experience might be enough to offset that.

That's assuming you can even find a job in a very crowded market, of course - which is where the contacts come in.

Conversely, working in business-to-business (B2B) and similar tends to be better paid, and sometimes with fancier freebies too (I got flown out to the Swiss Alps for a press junket in my early days working on a dull niche business website, and I've not come close to anything that flash since).

You might want to put some effort in to building up your "brand" with Twitter, a blog and so on (and use stuff like Google Analytics on the back end to become familiar with that side of things). Social media nous is essential these days, and having a bit of a following (or some sense that you have a personality) will likely help. I've only just lucked into a job that's let me formally deal with SEO, social media and analytics tools - my career was looking very in danger of being hemmed in until then. If I'd had more foresight and got involved with Twitter and all that shit sooner it might have been more helpful.

Mister Six

  • Half-masted, bass-boosted, sling-backed
Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2019, 08:58:10 PM »
If you've already got a degree I think the industry preferred qualification is a NCTJ diploma. If you want to be a music journalist you don't really need a qualification at all; you're better off buying the Writers and Artists Yearbook and pitching to editors.

^ Wet blanket saying what I should have much more succinctly. Must have a better editor.

Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2019, 08:58:53 PM »
The lines between 'journalist' and 'glorified blogger' are getting narrower all the time.

Even video journalism is suffering, favouring 'multimedia journalists' which means rather than directors, camera and sound ops you get packed off with a modern camera, tripod and are told to send it back (non live) over the Internet or a djero go box. The sat truck only gets wheeled out for breaking stuff.

kngen

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Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2019, 12:05:17 AM »
I really don't want to burst your bubble, but - unless you are one of the big hitters (Petridis et al) - music journalism really isn't a viable career path these days. You are essentially reporting on one dying industry for another - it's not a growth area, by any means.

Most people who still work in music journalism that I know do it as a side hustle to their main job (which is what I did - I was a production editor at the Guardian but worked closely enough with the music desk for them to know I had niche tastes, and could be called upon for the odd review etc if they needed it - I got some great trips out of it, and met some childhood heroes, but it was certainly not enough to make me think about quitting the day job. The Guardian pays £50 for a CD review, and £100 for a live review. If you're really lucky you might get one of each a week - and if you can pitch a story idea/interview on top of that (let's say two a month) you're prob talking about £1,500 a month - and that's a good month. And that's only once you've ingratiated yourself to the commissioning editors - which is a whole other story.

It's very much a closed shop, and you could be banging your head on closed doors for years with not a sniff of interest. This is all the more infuriating once you get inside and realise how arbitrary the commissioning process is - your fantastic pitch will probably be languishing within the 40,000 unread emails in the CE's inbox (not an exaggeration - my old boss said half his day was spend deleting unread emails to make room for more that he'd never read, otherwise he couldn't access the internal ones that he HAD to read), but if you're on nodding terms with the editor in question, and something comes up that they want to cover that you might know about, and you're walking past their desk at the right time, you might find yourself getting flown to New York to meet the new hot shit in mincecore, and get a nice big byline into the bargain: yes, it really is that unfair.

As Mister Six said, if you want to learn shorthand and the nuances of court circulars a journalism degree is very useful - but that's the path for reporters, and even then, you'll be spending a lot of time out in the provinces running a local beat, building up a contact book and portfolio, and none of it will be music related.

Newspapers don't need more writers (they need good writers, but most CEs don't have the time or inclination to dig them out; they go with what they know or whoever is within arm's reach) but they do need subs, especially digital ones. There's an NCTJ subbing course that might be enough to get you in the door (even then, it really is about who you know - so start making friends with journalists now. Those contacts are the ones that pay off in the end. I thought I had a dozen solid leads for work when I moved down to London - and none of them paid off. It was a scrap of paper my old colleague shoved into my hand at my leaving drinks that contained the number of his mate that worked at the Guardian that turned out to be my golden ticket ...), but I'd say you're about a hundred times more likely to get in the door doing subbing shifts than trying to make headway with unsolicited pitches to arts desks etc.

Once you've got your feet under a desk, then you can start finding out the lay of the land, who to hit up for work etc, but even then, it takes time.

Of course, none of this should stop you from doing stuff off your own back and creating a nice online portfolio of your work, even if it's just for your own blog (good practice, too, of course), but the key to making a living in newspapers is - in my opinion - being indispensable in something they DO need (subbing, production, hell - even being a personal assistant/secretary. That's how Michael Cragg got his foot in the door), and then build on it from there.

Sorry if this a total bum-out. Best of luck, nonetheless.







touchingcloth

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Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2019, 12:21:10 AM »
Is there a living wage in music journalism any more?

Depends what the course is - it doesn’t have to be ruthlessly vocational. You’d hope a music journalism course would give someone the skills to be able to write on pop culture nor generally, or current affairs. Also don’t forget their are trade magazines and the like where people can write, so rather than writing about rarities in a zine you could be penning stuff for events and conferences or whatever.

2:2 shouldn’t be an issue - it shows you can stick out a course til completion!

Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2019, 12:49:42 AM »
What Kngen said basically. I did music journalism for years, mainly on a local level (although in a fairly big city) with the odd encroachment into the nationals, usually under assumed names. Basically because I've never had any great desire to be famous and being fairly well-known in one city was more than enough for me. I'd also like to point out that, contrary to what people seemed to think, it was never my full-time/only job. I did general reporting and then subbing as well.

There were good things. Free albums, getting into gigs for nowt, the occasional decent trips to big events but on the other hand not all the albums and gigs were ones you'd listen or go to voluntarily, let alone have to find something to write about. Then there were the people who'd be best mates with you as long as they were getting what they wanted out of you (whether it was good reviews or some of your freebies) but would bitch about you if they didn't. The amount of times people would be incredibly friendly if a decent concert was coming up but suddenly be very busy indeed if I asked them to accompany me to see someone who wasn't to their taste...

A lot of it - like making it in most jobs - is down to a combination of determination and sheer luck. There's not a lot I can add (and I know practically nothing about the music scene and industry these days) but all the best.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2019, 01:14:55 AM by Jockice »

Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2019, 12:55:08 AM »
But you can go work for Pitchfork and write slime like this: "We wrap musical genres around us as personal identifiers, like the plastic bracelets folded around newborns’ wrists. Their grooves become as familiar to us as our own heartbeat.".

pancreas

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Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2019, 06:29:40 AM »
^ Oh but that's just ghastly. Grave, please reach out and swallow up this person.

Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2019, 08:00:48 AM »
^ Oh but that's just ghastly. Grave, please reach out and swallow up this person.


But I thought it was one of my best pieces of writing.

Buelligan

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Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2019, 08:17:03 AM »
Donnington is it?

Jockice

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Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2019, 11:10:18 AM »
Donnington is it?

Dinnington. Between Sheffield and Rotherham. Kid Creole used to live there you know. A story I didn't write because a girl who lived there told me on a date but I didn't fancy her and I felt bad about it* so I never followed it up. The date or the story.

A couple of weeks later it was a centrespread in The Sun. They didn't nickname me Scoop for nothing you know. In fact they never nicknamed me Scoop at all.

*She really liked me as well. And she's a lovely person and not bad looking even now (I'm friends with her on Facebook and still bump into her very occasionally) so for someone like me to blow her out must have made her feel like shit. But I just didn't fancy her. Nothing I could do about that.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2019, 11:38:15 AM by Jockice »

Golden E. Pump

  • Basically Morris Day.
Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2019, 11:29:51 AM »
Why would they write a story about you not fancying someone as a centre page in The Sun?

You, Sir, are Mark Wright, and I claim my £5.

Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2019, 11:31:00 AM »
Why would they write a story about you not fancying someone as a centre page in The Sun?

You, Sir, are Mark Wright, and I claim my £5.

Bloody journos. They just twist quotes and make things up. You'll go a long way in the business Mr E Pump.

Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #24 on: January 12, 2019, 11:33:46 AM »
The slight experience of music journalism I had (my brief career was mainly in minor B2B publications and some local news) I have told me that a fair chunk of it seemed to work on the lines of "if you want access to major act x, then you must do a positive piece on new act y".

Mate of mine ran a music site for years and numerous times PR companies stopped dealing with him after a critical review of one of their bands. To his credit, I don't remember him ever telling contributors they had to take a certain line.

Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #25 on: January 12, 2019, 11:51:15 AM »
The slight experience of music journalism I had (my brief career was mainly in minor B2B publications and some local news) I have told me that a fair chunk of it seemed to work on the lines of "if you want access to major act x, then you must do a positive piece on new act y".

Mate of mine ran a music site for years and numerous times PR companies stopped dealing with him after a critical review of one of their bands. To his credit, I don't remember him ever telling contributors they had to take a certain line.

Well, I have discussed this on here before but when I first started (in the late 80s) a reviews editor at Record Mirror rang me up and said he'd seen some of my work  and liked it so did I fancy doing live reviews for them? I said sure and got assigned a reasonably well-known at the time band who I went to see but didn't like and said so in the review. I then got an irate phone call from the RM bloke, saying they couldn't possibly print anything like that (god knows why. As slagging offs go it was pretty mild) and being so personally offensive that I hung up on him. So that was the end of my career with them. I later found out that a member of this band had previously worked for RM and was personal friends with this reviews editor. So in a lot of cases it's really not what you know it's who you know.

I ended up doing stuff for Kerrang, despite heavy metal/hard rock just not being my thing. But at least their live reviews editor wasn't a prick.

Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #26 on: January 12, 2019, 02:49:17 PM »
Dinnington. Between Sheffield and Rotherham. Kid Creole used to live there you know. A story I didn't write because a girl who lived there told me on a date but I didn't fancy her and I felt bad about it* so I never followed it up. The date or the story.

A couple of weeks later it was a centrespread in The Sun. They didn't nickname me Scoop for nothing you know. In fact they never nicknamed me Scoop at all.

*She really liked me as well. And she's a lovely person and not bad looking even now (I'm friends with her on Facebook and still bump into her very occasionally) so for someone like me to blow her out must have made her feel like shit. But I just didn't fancy her. Nothing I could do about that.

Ooh, spooky! I just put my name and former employer's into Google (don't think I've ever done that before) and the very first thing that came up mentions this lass by name. She wasn't a musician but she'd organised a spoken word event that I'd written a small preview of around a decade after our date. I'll take this as a sign that we were supposed to be together. I'll ring her up now. I'm sure our respective partners won't mind.

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #27 on: January 12, 2019, 03:07:17 PM »
@Jockice were you still working in music journalism in the ‘00s? And was the town you worked in Sheffield? I think we’ve met - I played in a South Yorks bands for a number of years and met every other music journo.

@GEPump - how long ago did you graduate? Would you be a mature student? Part of me wants to try going back for an MA but I don’t really know what I’d do and I only got a crap 2:2 because I was an idiot at university so I’m a bit ashamed of having transcripts provided to a graduate school.

Sin Agog

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Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #28 on: January 12, 2019, 03:23:48 PM »
By asking us lot, does that make us your sources?  I've never gotten to be a source before.

Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Re: Masters in Journalism
« Reply #29 on: January 12, 2019, 04:15:39 PM »
@Jockice were you still working in music journalism in the ‘00s? And was the town you worked in Sheffield? I think we’ve met - I played in a South Yorks bands for a number of years and met every other music journo.

@GEPump - how long ago did you graduate? Would you be a mature student? Part of me wants to try going back for an MA but I don’t really know what I’d do and I only got a crap 2:2 because I was an idiot at university so I’m a bit ashamed of having transcripts provided to a graduate school.

I was. And it was. I wasn't really doing much by then but would still write the odd piece for the local papers. I wasn't the tall one or the small one. I was the...er... other one. What was your band (or bands) called? Send me it as a personal message if you don't want to make it public.

And do an MA. I didn't do one till I was 40. It was fun.