How to become a journalist: Hints and tips from BBC journos

Ayshah Tull says passion is crucial for a career in journalism.

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a journalist but just don’t know where to start?

Well, these seasoned BBC hacks can help you out.

BBC journalist and former Newsround presenter Ayshah Tull thinks the three keys are “passion, perseverance and work experience”.

She breaks it down like so:

  • Passion: You need to stand out from the crowd and prove you’re the best person. You can do that by having loads of passion and enthusiasm for what’s going on in the world.
  • Perseverance: You’ll probably get a lot of people saying 'no' when doing the job and when trying to get into the industry. But it’s so important to follow up, keep asking (politely) and try and turn a 'no' into a 'yes'. If you keep going and don’t give up, it’ll happen for you.
  • Work experience: Get as much as you can, you need to know what you’re letting yourself in for. Good places to try and get experience are hospital radio, local radio and local newspapers.

Megha Mohan, the BBC’s first ever Gender and Identity correspondent, says it’s all about access to places and people others might not be able to get.

“Access is the number one thing you need to be a reporter," she says. "No one can take your access away from you."

"Once you get access and people trust you to tell their story, immerse yourself in it so that you become an expert. And so that you can defend your story when questioned. Then think of more than one way to tell the story - text, audio, even an Instagram story?"

Megha Mohan believes getting access to the right people is key.
Roger Johnson says it's important to be a people person.

Roger Johnson from BBC's North West Tonight says to be a journalist you need to be a people person, he explains: “Be curious to learn about them, the things that matter to them – and why they are important."

"I’ve spent most of my career in regional television. Our journalists have a close relationship with the audience – because we live where they do – and they realise that the things which matter to them also matter to us."

"We can empathise in a way other journalists often can’t," he says.

And finally, if you are worried about the exam grades you might need to make it as a journalist, ex-BBC Breakfast’s Steph McGovern has this to say to ease your fears: “You don’t have to be the most amazing writer, you don’t have to get top marks in your English GCSE, you just have to be someone who can tell a good story, and tell it right, and tell it well.”

Steph McGovern says: 'You don't have to be the most amazing writer to be a good journalist.'
What is it like to be a... TV presenter?
How to become a writer
Check out Bitesize Careers