The world of journalism is a tough industry to break into; many writers fail before they even start. Is this because they are bad writers or lousy researchers? No. Often it’s because they don’t adopt the four essential qualities all cub writers should have.


journalist working, using four qualities required

Let’s face it – being talented and having a degree or a diploma doesn’t come with the guarantee that you will enjoy a smooth entry into the world of journalism. Novice writers need to work twice as hard as an established writer. As a newbie, you have to start where everyone else did – at the bottom.

New Writers Are Willing Writers

Be willing to do whatever it takes, however long it takes. Being a newcomer means that you’ll have to:

  • Be willing to work for free.
  • Be willing to work long hours and on holidays.
  • Be willing to be the skivvy at the office.
  • Be willing to cover stories no one else wants to do.

“Many opportunities come from doing the work no one wants to do,” CNN News Anchor, Anderson Cooper says.

He says you should outhustle everyone, and do the work no else is prepared to do, or everyone is too busy to do.

Be Fearless In Your Hustle

As a beginner your writing journey will most likely start at a much smaller publication, like a community newspaper. However, don’t be afraid to play big.

Instead of taking that great idea you have to a small publication, be brave enough to pitch it to the industry big shots. They might just like it and be willing to give you an opportunity.

Be Coachable

When you get into an internship or volunteer program, do not get cocky if an editor says your work is sub-standard. Remember, you’re new to the industry and are prone to make mistakes, but learn from them.

ABC 7 journalist, Anabel Muńoz, says by surrounding yourself with industry professionals you get to learn from them and establish great relationships (another essential in this industry.)

freelance journalism course, the writers college

Be Entrepreneurial

Building a portfolio is crucial to any writer’s career and you have to invest in your craft.

Create a portfolio that highlights your skills as a writer and include samples of your work. Have a printed copy as well as an online version on your author website too.

Writer Dexter Thomas believes the point of a journalist website is to give potential clients an easy way to access your articles, which could result in future work for you.

Breaking into the journalism industry is not as easy as it looks. It is a world of hustle and survival, and your choices will determine how far you get, and how long you last.

About The Author

Duncan Masiwa writes for Media24’s, District Mail, and Helderberg Gazette, where he contributes feature articles and motivational column pieces.

Duncan is also an avid poet.  He has performed, and shared stages with artist like Mahalia Buchanan, Charisma Hannekom and Motlatsi Mofatse. You can watch his performances on his YouTube channel  ‘Duncan Masiwa’.