MY BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT:

I went for a job interview a couple of weeks ago and one of the questions asked was: “What is your biggest achievement in life?” and it stumped me for a few seconds. At the time, the only thing I could think of was travelling which is what I had to say, but when I got home it got me thinking about what actually is my biggest achievement in life?

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m 22-years-old who’s experienced a lifetime of memories, so much so that it seems almost impossible to pinpoint just one event from my past that’s considered the definitive ‘greatest achievement’. I’ve completed my A-Levels, got a degree and been travelling around Australia, but it still doesn’t feel enough to be named the ultimate achievement. Yes, travelling was an amazing experience and as cliche as it sounds I learnt a lot about people, the world and life itself but it doesn’t feel enough to be my biggest accomplishment in life.

I don’t think there’s one single event that can be named my biggest achievement. The biggest accomplishment for me is today, being here and writing this blog post. Everything I’ve done in my life has helped me arrive at this moment right now. 

My biggest achievement isn’t anything in the past, it’s the present. For some, one monumental event can stand out as their biggest achievement, but this isn’t the case for me. I feel proud and a sense of fulfilment when thinking about certain things I’ve achieved and accomplished, but it’s not about one single event and I think that’s the same for a lot people.

Maybe when I’ve graduated in November that will stand out as my biggest achievement because university has been such a challenging but hugely rewarding experience. I think at the moment I’m just happy with the direction my life’s going in which is all that matters.

I wish I could go back to the interview and change my answer but at the time the pressure got to me, but anyway I still managed to get the job so they must’ve liked my answer! What response would you give if you got asked this question? Is there a single event that stands out for you, or are you like me? I’d love to know about your biggest achievements either in the comments below or tweet me @sophiejourno.

SOCIAL MEDIA: A MASSIVELY IMPORTANT TOOL FOR JOURNALISTS

Seconds after the London terror attack, social media erupted. Seconds after the first bomb at the 2013 Boston marathon, social media erupted. #WeStandTogether#PrayForBoston and #WestminsterAttack were trending on Twitter and Facebook within minutes, and were used over 3 million times. I’ll be the first to admit that I found out about the Westminster terrorist attack via my Twitter feed. Not the BBC, ITV or newspaper organisations; it was social media that broke the news, beat the journalists and had the scoop first.

There’s no denying it, social media platforms have changed the face of journalism and the news industry. Some may say they present incredible opportunities whilst others suggest it’s damaging the nature of journalism. For me, as an aspiring journalist, it’s only enhanced the industry and encouraged me to learn new skills. Its created new possibilities, opportunities and opened doors that were once foreign to the journalism world. It’s brought about transparency and a broader range of viewpoints, and unfortunately those who don’t embrace it will get swallowed up in the tide of change.

“Being a journalist in the social media age means you have to be multi-skilled as traditional roles are morphing into one.”

Social media provides an open sea of information that journalists can absorb. Of course, some of the information is irrelevant, but a large amount of it is increasingly a rich source of potential stories. We should be encouraging citizen journalists to have a voice because quite frankly, journalists can’t be everywhere at once. The future journalist should embrace tools like Twitter, TweetDeck, Facebook and Snapchat, as it’s vital they have a good knowledge of processing information in the digital age.

In a world of distractions and shrinking attention spans people expect the news to just fit into their lives, and thanks to social media it can and it does. The modern age reader wants real time information; gone are the days where people sit down at an appointed time to watch the evening news and catch up on current affairs. An overwhelming number of people get their news from Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.

Being a journalist in the social media age means you have to be multi-skilled as traditional roles are morphing into one. I am a multimedia journalist who is required to source, publish, edit and promote my stories but that’s all part of the fun.

Social media helps reach a wider audience which wouldn’t of even been imagineable to the journalist 10 years ago. Interaction and engagement with the audience is constantly increasing at a considerable pace. Sharing, liking, commenting and giving feedback enhances a story. No longer is communication between the media and audience one-way, which helps journalists understand their audience better and subsequently tailor their story-telling accordingly.

As the finishing line of my degree is firmly in sight and I’m starting to apply for jobs as a journalist, I’m aware the employer no longer hires a journalist solely on the basis of their writing skills. It’s all about their online presence, brand, multimedia skills and social media abilities because, lets face it, being a good writer isn’t enough anymore.

I think journalism and social media go hand in hand. Journalists shouldn’t see social media as a threat, they should see it as a helping hand on the road towards creating better compelling news.

Social media is changing the face of journalism and the future journalist must evolve with it. They need to master digital narratives, become more tech-savvy and reinvent how to tell stories to match the right tone with the right audience. Additionally, multimedia skills are essential for the future journalist as social media continues to takeover.

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN A JOURNALISM DEGREE?”

So, as you probably know, for the past three years I’ve been studying journalism at the University of Gloucestershire. However when it comes to telling people this, half the time, they either don’t know what journalism means or they don’t understand what I’ve been studying for the past three years. So, it’s about time I dedicated a blog post to my journalism degree for my confused friends, or for anyone who’s considering pursuing a journalism degree in the near future.

What is journalism? 

Journalism can be anything from magazine and newspaper writing, right through to broadcasting news on the radio or television. A journalism degree opens doors to a range of careers where your creative writing, research and communication skills are invaluable and put to good use.

What modules do you study?

The two core subjects I studied in my first year were ‘Media Law’ and ‘News gathering for Journalists’. You’re eased into the degree by learning about the do’s and dont’s of reporting and how to find stories, where to look for news and subsequently how to creatively tell your story. Even though my first year didn’t count towards my final grade, it was the best decision to go to (pretty much) all of my lectures; it really helped build my knowledge, skills and expertise.

My second year was all about applying what I’d learnt in my first year and it was a lot more independent. I started to really enjoy my degree as the modules were better suited to me compared to my first year where I struggled to find my niche. Some of my favourite modules I undertook were: Politics for Journalists, Making Magazines and News Practice.

Now, in my third year, it’s even more independent than my second. Writing my dissertation which I decided to base on the media’s representation of the Royal family really did consume most of my first semester. ‘News days’ have also played a big part of my third year where we mimic a real life news room, and play the role of editors, producers and reporters to create radio and TV bulletins.

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Advice to those looking to study journalism…

  • Start a blog, set up professional social media accounts, network and showcase your skills now! Start making connections and contacts – it’ll be a huge help down the line.
  • The more work experience you do the better. I know I’ve already spoken about the importance of work experience which you can read here, but it was literally one of the best things I’ve done throughout my three years at university. It helped me so much in terms of the direction I want to take after university.
  • Go that extra mile wherever and whenever you can, it really does get noticed.

Has your degree set you up well for a career?

Yes and no. Yes because I’ve developed a range of skills in many different areas of journalism which means I have the option of working in a variety of fields. However, no because journalism is a competitive industry and it’s still hard to break into even with a degree. But, do I regret my choice of degree? Not in the slightest.

Take a look at the video below which explains a little bit more about the journalism course at the University of Gloucestershire.

So now if anyone asks “what do you mean a journalism degree?” I can point them to this post! I hope its been helpful if you’re looking to study journalism in the future, and if you have any other questions feel free to write them in the comments below or tweet me @sophiejourno.

THE MET GALA 2017 – BEST AND WORST

The Met Gala is definitely the most anticipated fashion event of the year; it can only be described as fashion’s equivalent of the Oscars. The biggest names from the world of fashion, music and acting come together for this annual fundraising event, wearing the most daring red carpet looks which everyone can’t wait to see!

I was so excited when it was announced back in October that this year’s Met Gala would be themed around the legendary Rei Kawakubo and her Comme des Garçons line. As expected, it certainly made room for some stunning looks but also some interesting outfits too – it wouldn’t be the Met Gala without some weird and wonderful creations! So here are my three best dressed and worst dressed celebrities at this year’s Met Gala.

BEST DRESSED

Couple 😏😍 #blakelively #ryanreynolds

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BLAKE LIVELY

Blake looked stunning. She always looks stunning. I absolutely adore her dress; the gold compliments her skin so well and the blue feathers complete the look perfectly. I also loved her make up, keeping it light and sticking to gorgeous gold shades – she didn’t need anything too heavy since her Versace dress made such a statement.  Without doubt, Blake’s dress was my absolute favourite of the night and I think a lot of you would agree!

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SELENA GOMEZ

Selena definitely didn’t disappoint at this year’s Met Gala. Not only did she wear the most stunning dress, but she also made her red carpet debut with The Weekend which had everyone talking! I love how elegant and simple her dress is and I’m a massive fan of the  embroidery too; it adds such a classy finish. Also, the 90’s style choker, mini clutch and metallic ankle strap heels couldn’t have been a better choice!

#metgala2017

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ZENDAYA

Wow! When I first saw this dress I literally had to double take, we all did! I think you either love it or hate it and I am loving it. This off-the-shoulder Dolce & Gabbana gown is everything; the bold colours, floral patterns and old-school Hollywood vibes definitely won it for me. If that wasn’t enough, her hair literally made jaws drop and her burnt orange lipstick just compliments everything perfectly!

WORST DRESSED

It's not a War #Madonna #MetGala 🤔

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MADONNA

Oh dear Madonna! I’m not sure what she was trying to do here, but whatever it was it didn’t work for me. A camouflage-printed gown is not the best look. Hopefully next year she’ll tone it down because so far, at every Met Gala I can remember, Madonna has always been remembered for the wrong reasons. I’m not a huge fan of the dark make-up or the camo netting she’s carrying either.

KATY PERRY

There’s no denying it, Katy Perry wholeheartedly embraced the theme but unfortunately it just didn’t do it for me. Her dress was so bizarre and equally so was the headpiece she opted to wear. As the host of the night I expected her to go all out, but the ruffles and layers were way too much; it was hard to even recognise who it was underneath it all! It’s a definite no from me.

#RitaOra #MetGala ❤✔️

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RITA ORA

From a distance I think this dress is okay but once you spot the red ribbons, black train and pink underskirt it all goes downhill. I think there’s too much going on, Rita can look amazing in the right dress so it was a shame she didn’t opt for something more sophisticated, effortless and chic like other events she’s attended.

So there you have it, that’s my best and worst dressed celebrities at the Met Gala 2017. Have I mentioned your favourite or worst dressed celebrity? I’d love to hear from you either in the comments below or tweet me @sophiejourno

I LOVE LISTS, BUT ARE THEY A LAZY FORM OF JOURNALISM?

I love lists and seem to have one for everything I do. I sometimes even add something onto my list just so I can tick it off. There’s something so satisfying about writing a to-do list at the start of the day, and then seeing everything crossed off by the evening. Why? Because a list is so manageable and easy to read; they’re short, snappy and to the point.

Listicles are the stories that go viral because they promise to condense information into manageable chunks. When you commit to reading a feature in The Guardian or Telegraph you don’t know how many things you’re going to learn, read or digest. However, with a list it upfront tells you before you’ve even opened the article.

Buzzfeed have got it spot on. They’ve managed to perfect the art of listicles that you just can’t resist reading. ‘43 Things Kids Born After 1999 Will Never Understand‘; ‘32 Pictures You Need To See Before You Die‘; ‘13 Simple Steps To Get You Through A Rough Day‘. Surely it’s a content managers dream to work for Buzzfeed. Who wouldn’t want to spend their days composing genius listicles that make witty points which everyone can relate to?

There’s no denying it, lists have certainly redefined and broadened what we class as journalism. But as an aspiring journalist, by no means are they a lazy form of writing. There’s still so much research, thought, expertise and skill that goes into creating a listicle.

‘Proper’ journalism doesn’t have to mean writing 1,000-word features or reporting breaking news. The nature of journalism is evolving; there’s still journalists that write long form features and report breaking news, but we’ve also seen new roles come into play to fit the digital/social media age.

Lists can be witty, serious or interesting just like a news story. Yesterday, I saw a list on Facebook which said ’10 emotions we went through after finding out Cheryl Cole had her baby’ and it had gone viral. It used Facebook as a way of reaching a wide audience and matched the right tone with the right audience. The modern age reader wants lists, so why not continue giving it to them? Regardless of how lazy people think the format is, it’s a talent that not many journalists can perfect.

I think Anna Lawler, a writer for The Guardian, summed up the importance of listicles quite fittingly so I’ll leave you with this: “News reading has been replaced by ‘news snacking’; checking news content far more frequently, for short, sharp bursts of attention. If news snacking demands listicles, the supply should fulfil that need.”

Don’t just take my word for it, watch the video below which explains why listicles are so interesting to the modern age reader:

4 WAYS I’VE (ALMOST) SURVIVED MY FINAL YEAR OF UNIVERSITY

The finish line of my degree is firmly in sight and I’m painfully aware of how much this year counts. The pressure, endless deadlines, assignments and my dissertation have completely consumed my life for the past 6 months. Final year has made me feel emotions that were once foreign to me. Some days I can power through my work and have a really productive day, but then others I’m left staring at a blank Word document. My final year has been one of the most challenging experiences but here’s how I’ve (almost) survived it:

     1. BE ORGANISED

A lot of the time you’ll feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, but I’ve learnt that being organised really helps with this. Know when your deadlines are, create goals, plan out your day and remember to take breaks from revision/studying. Not only will it help with motivation levels, but it’ll reduce stress as everything’s set out clearly.

Planning is something I tend to do a lot, as much as spontaneity is great, I love knowing that everything is well planned and organised. I’m definitely no expert but keeping on top of everything has really helped me survive my final year.

     2. KEEP EVERYTHING IN PERSPECTIVE

My best friend gave me this advice yesterday and it’s just so true. Final year is not the be all end all. Understandably everyone wants to do their best and feel proud of their grade, but that shouldn’t make you lose sight of what’s really important. Basically everything works out in the end is what I’m trying to say. You just have to trust your abilities, skills and goals.

     3. IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO START ASSESSMENTS

The earlier you can start your assessments the better. I think I started my dissertation in the Christmas holidays but to be honest I wish I’d started sooner. Don’t underestimate the importance of editing, perfecting and proof-reading you work. Those extra couple of days can make such a difference. Final year is fast paced; everything seems to happen all at once which really tests your time management and multi-tasking skills. So in order to ease the stress, start early – you’ll thank yourself later.

     4. ASK FOR HELP

Don’t be afraid to ask your lecturers, tutors, friends and family for help. Especially in your final year with a dissertation to juggle – you really do need all the support your university can provide you with. Make the most of your contact time with your dissertation tutor and use the resources at university to your advantage. Keep asking your lecturers how to improve; they’re there to help you so use them!

I’m definitely no expert but I thought some tips were worth mentioning! What advice have you been given to survive final year?

3 REASONS TO LOVE EASTER

Easter is definitely underrated and it’s only up until recently that I actually appreciate and celebrate it as a holiday. Even if I’m not entirely sure what date it falls on each year, I still look forward to it and go in with no expectations – unlike New Year and Christmas which is planned at least 2 months in advance. So here are three reasons why Easter is so great and shouldn’t be reduced to “just another day”:

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Source: Pixabay.com

FOUR DAY WEEKEND 

What’s there not to love about a four day weekend? It’s the best realisation on a Sunday evening that in the morning, you still don’t have to get up for work/school/university. That extra day makes all the difference; so relax, use the spare days to do the things you’ve wanted to do but haven’t got round to doing yet – a walk, run, see family, organise to meet up with friends, whatever it is Easter is the perfect chance to do it.

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Source: Pixabay.com

SPRING HAS ARRIVED

Easter is officially the first holiday of Spring! The brightly coloured daffodils, longer evenings, fresher mornings, the suns coming out and the BBQ is slowly re-emerging. So break out the dresses and shorts and get ready to enjoy some Spring weather! If that doesn’t give you enough reason to love Easter I don’t know what will.

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Source: Pixabay.com

CHOCOLATE

Just like with Christmas, Easter is one of those holidays where you’re just expected to eat a lot of Chocolate. Mini Eggs, Cadbury Chocolate Eggs, Lindt Bunny’s and Creme Eggs; it can all be consumed for the whole weekend without fear of judgement. Also, as I’m writing this I’m currently eating a hot cross bun which is another luxury you get to enjoy over the Easter break.

So, Happy Easter! I hope you enjoy the sun, chocolate and four day weekend as much as I am.