Journalist Essentials - The Tools For Your Success!
Also by pacificana
For each career, there are some essential tools that must be used. A scientist must have a test subject, a mechanic must have a wrench, a Grundo must have an ultimate and unwavering love of Sloth, a berry picker must have a basket, and a janitor, a mop. But what are the essential tools of being a journalist? Any aspiring journalist must have asked themselves this ultimate question at one point in their budding career!
As two now slightly experienced journalists, we have compiled a list of tools that any good journalist must possess! Furthermore, to make it easier for you (and to give you an insight into your future, if you continue down this grand and wonderful journalist path) we have provided examples of items which can be used by beginner, intermediate and expert journalists!
Essential Tool #1: Pen
This should be quite an obvious tool. Even if you have a great memory and don't need to jot down notes (not our case), you'll still have to sit down and write an article at some point! So make sure you have a pen in every pocket: you never know when you'll come across something noteworthy! Also pens happen to be a very easy item to lose. We suggest tying them to your vest, to limit the damage that is caused by losing one's pen at a critical moment.
Beginner: Broken Pencil
As a beginner, you'll have to take whatever you can find. Whether it be a broken pencil (it was a perfectly fine pencil till you dropped it and the Kyrii you were interviewing stomped on it in anger –don't worry, it happens), your sister's crayons, a felt tip you stole from a windowsill while no one was watching, or a piece of chalk. After all, half a pencil is better than no pencil!
Intermediate: Neverending Fountain Pen
Once you've made a name for yourself, you can finally afford to upgrade your writing utensils! It's a day you'll never forget. There are many pens that you can choose from at this point, but as a pen is absolutely essential you want something good: go big or go home, as they say. We recommend a fountain pen for extra class. Of course once you've bought it you'll go home and find out that the never ending part was a bit of an exaggeration, but it remains a good pen nonetheless. As a side note, we suggest you take a while to practice writing with a fountain pen... it's hard to read your notes through ink blots.
Expert: Neopian Times Quill
The day has finally come. You are a respected Neopian Times writer. You've had more pens in your career than you can remember! Of course you've still got Pauly, the first pen you actually bought and named, for sentimental reasons. But now, you have to really show your status, and what better way to do that than to use a proper, Lenny feather Neopian Times Quill? It'll be the envy of all your friends and colleagues for years to come.
Essential Tool #2: Notepad
Saying a notepad is essential for a journalist is probably the biggest understatement ever; although a seemingly simple item, it is the lifeblood of anyone in media. Notepads are extremely lightweight and portable, allowing you to carry them easily everywhere you go, which is necessary as a journalist. Use it to jot down quick notes, witness reports, details of the story or even suspicious activity you may spot while you're out. When you return to the office, you can build your exciting reports and stories in a flash using all the information you gathered in your handy, dandy notebook.
Beginner: Tatty Notebook
For the up and coming journalist just starting out, you don't need the fancy stuff to get going. Any bundle of paper will do! The important thing is getting the story and information stored somewhere. Don't be intimidated by the tools of experienced journalists. They all started where you are too, and certainly didn't start off with the best equipment. Focus on the story and the reports, the rest will come soon enough!
Intermediate: Yellow Lined Notebook
Now that you have a bit more experience under your belt, it's time to start investing some of those neopoints into the craft. Don't think about breaking the bank just yet, but you'll want to think about upgrading from that dingy bundle of paper into a sturdier and more reliable notebook. Finding a simple ring-bound notebook will not only make note taking a lot easier, but will definitely make sure you look more professional in the field. Don't get anything too big, though! Remember, you want to keep these things easy to transport or keep in your pocket, so you're ready. A story can pop up at any moment!
Expert: Neopian Times Notebook
Now we're talking! The expert journalist will want the best money can buy, and thankfully for you, the notepad is one of the cheaper items in your tool box. You'll still want a ring-bound or spined notebook for ease of use, but splurging on a nice notepad will make reporting and writing a breeze. Keep yourself organized and focused with your notes, and don't be afraid to section out your notebook for even further organization! You'll also want to be sure to grab a notebook with plenty of sheets of paper in it. Expert journalists will scribble down every little scrap of info they can get, and you'll burn through your notebook quickly if you aren't careful! It's also best to keep a spare around, just in case that happens. You want to always be prepared!
Essential Tool #3: Desk
We've spoken a lot about tools the journalist needs out in the field, but a good journalist also needs a well-stocked base of operations. An office is another necessity to any journalist, regardless of experience. The office provides a place for you to wind down from being out, to organize ideas from your notes, and a quiet, peaceful place for you to focus and get your stories and articles written up. This space should not be neglected, as it becomes a very important part of a journalist's life. And you'll end up spending much more time behind your desk than you may think!
Beginner: Straw Desk
Well, everyone has to start somewhere, right? Any place that provides a flat (or flatish) writing surface is what you need to look for. You'll want enough space to be able to spread out your notes while you write up your reports. Don't look for anything too big at this point. Desks are deceiving, and can take up a lot of space in your office if you aren't prepared. You also don't want to get too hung up on things like filing space and drawers, as you shouldn't have much need for them right now. Any simple table will do for a beginner. Just make sure you're comfortable sitting at it for long periods of time!
Intermediate: Hewn Stone Desk
This is where you'll want to start looking at bigger desk top space. Paperwork will pile up quick, and you'll need the extra space to organize all your files and articles. A bigger desk will also allow you to place any accessories to make writing easier. A desk lamp is definitely a great idea for those times you're up late finishing a story. The priority of a desk for the intermediate journalist is the space, but if you can find a good solid desk with drawers for a good price, definitely snatch it up! It does come in handy.
Expert: Elegant Wooden Desk
If you haven't already gotten one, this is the time to invest in a desk with drawers. And more is most definitely better! Organization is one of the key things for a journalist, and the ability to file away old articles, information, notes and other odds and ends is a huge advantage. It also frees up more space on top, to allow you to write without a terribly messy desk to worry about. We suggest going with a nice dark wood desk, mostly for aesthetics. The classic look will make your office look really classy and surely impress anyone who enters. While you're at it, we suggest investing in a good, comfy chair to go along with your new desk. You'll end up sitting behind it for long periods of time, and you don't want to be unfocused because your butt is bothering you (trust us!).
Essential Tool #4: Reference Books
A well-stocked shelf of quick references books and texts is another great office accessory to keep your articles and stories well written and factually accurate! Although some of these books may seem stale or unwanted, they are good to have handy, just in case. You also never know when you'll be writing an article and require some information on a crazy subject (All About Juggling, anyone?). So if you can find a deal on any of these types of books, we suggest grabbing them and hoarding them away on your shelf. It also gives you something to read on those slow news days!
Beginner: Quick Reference Dictionary
Like we said, may seem dull and ridiculous, but having a dictionary nearby is a necessary tool, for any sort of writer! This will build the base of your reference book library, so to speak. Start from the foundation, and work your way up. We also suggest a thesaurus to help broaden your vocabulary. Simple things will help with your writing structure and enhance your articles to a new level. Don't take these items for granted!
Intermediate: Encyclopedia Neopia
Once you have a foundation of the basic books, it's time to move into some heavier reading. Things like encyclopedias will aid in expanding your knowledge of the Neopian world. There's a lot going on, and it's hard to keep on top of things, so being able to look these things up quickly and easily will lessen your workload considerably. Texts like Encyclopedias allow for quick referencing and short descriptions of people and things, which can get you up to speed quickly on topics you may not be overly familiar with. It certainly beats ending up at the library for hours on end!
Expert: History Textbook
This is the time where you should start deciding an area or subject you want to focus on. It's hard to be an expert on absolutely every topic, so we suggest picking 2 or 3 that you're really interested in. Then you can start hitting the big books on those topics and delve into learning everything about those areas. Things like history books and first-hand accounts of historical events are invaluable tools to becoming a complete expert in your area of choice. The biggest thing to remember is to pick things you really love and are passionate about. Your passion will come through in your writing, and make your articles and stories that much more engaging!
Essential Tool #5: Bag
This may seem like a strange choice on the list, but this often overlooked item is a great accessory for journalists (and most other occupations as well!). Journalists have a lot of things to lug around with them while they're out trying to get the next scoop. Keep extra supplies handy in case you lose something or run out of something, extra clothes and weather gear (in case you suddenly find yourself in Terror Mountain, you'll want your winter coat ready!) and definitely a stash of tasty snacks so you can keep yourself going. If you're thinking of becoming a journalist, definitely be sure to look into a reliable bag for your travels!
Beginner: Tote Bag
This simple bag will get the job done for any beginner. Although perhaps a bit uncomfortable to carry, affordability and sturdiness are top priorities in comparison to comfort. At this point, you shouldn't have too many bulky or large items to carry anyways, so a smallish bag is what you should look for. Anything with side pockets, to easily get an extra pen or notebook, is a bonus as well. But really, any bag that holds all your things easily will do for the beginner journalist.
Intermediate: Altador Courier Bag
Now it's time for an upgrade. Over the shoulder bags are our number one choice for any journalist. Not only does it give ease of access to anything you need, it becomes very convenient and much more comfortable to carry around all the things you need. These bags also allow extreme portability and won't weigh you down as much as other bag styles will while travelling. Traversing the jungles of Mystery Island just became so much easier! Just be sure to find balance in what you bring. Carrying too much stuff will hinder you more than help you in the long run.
Expert: Lulus Adventure Satchel
Any expert journalist will need a super fancy bag to fit the bill. Sticking with the over the shoulder style, you'll want to invest in something that's not only functional, but that also has a bit more flare. The right bag will help present you as professional while out in the field. And although these bags may be more expensive, it usually comes with extra features other bags may lack. Adventurer's bags are especially good choices, with extra features, such as extra interior pockets to keep yourself organized. This way, you can grab anything you need in a flash.
Essential Tool #6: The Hat
Not everyone realizes this, but hats are actually very important for journalists. You don't get proper journalist status if you're not wearing a hat. It just wouldn't be... right. On top of the fact that it gives a journalist aplomb, hats are actually a very useful thing to have around. They shade your eyes from the sun, cover your head and ears when it's cold and stop them from freezing, and alternatively they can be used as a pillow, a fan on really hot days, a cloth to cover your face in case of fire and in many other ways. A journalist must be creative, and use his tools in every possible way to succeed.
Beginner: Brown Newsboy Hat
Any journalist began his or her career carrying newspapers. This may be where your passion for journalism stemmed from? You may have gone from paperboy to journalist, but not everyone sees you that way. Wear your hat, keep your head down, do your investigative work, and you'll get there! Besides, this everyday hat will make sure you go absolutely unnoticed, and you'll be able to slip into the most interesting places!
Intermediate: Black Fedora
You're at a point in your career where you need to start substituting invisibility for class. This hat is at once elegant, yet not incredibly flashy. You'll be able to get into fancier hotels and restaurants wearing this beauty. Don't forget: fancier locations lead to fancier stories! However, this hat being more rigid than the beginner's hat, it has fewer alternate uses. Maybe keep that old cap close at hand, in case of an emergency.
Expert: Devious Top Hat and Cane
Now everyone knows you, you can look as fancy and sophisticated as you please. You'll be going around with the Neopian elite now, and you have to dress to impress! You've got everyone's eye on you, and can't go anywhere unnoticed, but you still have some tricks up your sleeve (or in your top hat). You haven't forgotten all the devious tricks you learned from your news boy hat days! The cane is not essential, but it is recommended as, when used strategically, it can get you to the front of the line with only a few bruises.
Essential Tool #7: The Coat
We've touched on the subject of the hat, and given you some wonderful options there, but that isn't the end of the uniform! A journalist must face all weathers and hours to get the latest news. This means you'll have to stand out in the cold for hours on end, waiting for a source, or a lead! You better be prepared. And to be prepared you need a coat. Preferably a big long one with lots of pockets to supplement those that you have in your bag. Just make sure you don't forget your notes in one of them when it rains or they might get a little soggy.
Beginner: Caroler Jacket
You've just heard from a friend that something's going on in town, and you've got to throw something on and rush out to see whether or not it's true. You may have borrowed this old coat off of your grandpa, you'll give it back before caroling season, of course. It's not all that warm, and it's not all that waterproof, and well, it doesn't have much going for it really. At least it's a coat. Or, well, a jacket. It'll have to do for tonight, and every other night till you finally find the story that gets your career as a journalist going.
Intermediate: Casual Greatcoat
After a few winters and more colds and sniffles than you can remember, you've been able to upgrade to a proper coat! This coat is great: it's sturdy, warm, long, waterproof. It's good for all kinds of weather, and it helps you blend in to the shadows when you're following someone (at a distance and with incredible discretion). Believe us, you will not regret investing in a wonderful greatcoat like this! Extra points for hidden pockets, in case you get searched and someone tries to steal the tools of your trade.
Expert: Heavy Meridellian Cloak
You've worn all your old coats through by now. You still find them very practical and like them a great deal, but now it's time to turn away from the coats and jackets and don a cape instead! With this on you'll really look the part. People will move out of your way to let you pass, and you'll have the attention of every noteworthy person in the room. Cloaks are the ultimately fashionable item, and you are nothing if not fashionable! Although being fashionable helps in this trade, you must be careful to not be too ahead of fashion. It wouldn't do for the journalist to become the story: you'd be out of a job!
Essential Tool #8: The Disguise
Although your normal attire can get you into a lot of places, if you're sly and sneaky enough, a good disguise is always helpful, and can get you out of a bad situation with remarkable efficiency! We recommend having something at hand at all times capable of disguising your true identity and helping you fit into your surroundings flawlessly. And remember, if someone sees through your disguise, you'll have to find a new one, so be careful to keep your anonymity at all times. We suggest taking a few acting classes when you can, they help teach you to keep up appearances.
Beginner: Xandras Cunning Disguise
Well, if it worked for Xandra, why wouldn't it work for you? These wonderful glasses will completely change your face and your character. It's really a foolproof plan. Make sure the glasses are big with thick lenses so no one can see your eyes: everyone knows that seeing someone's eyes gives away their true identity. These glasses have also been known to turn a perfectly nice person into an evil and powerful witch: caution and a strong and steady character advised.
Intermediate: Snowy White Fake Beard
By this point, you've found out that the glasses weren't exactly as foolproof as you'd hoped, or in any case, they've outlived their usefulness. So what upgrade can you find that'll hide more of your face? Why, a fake beard, of course! We recommend combining this with a wig and moustache. Just make sure it doesn't slip... It's hard to get your reputation back after you've let your beard slip a couple times.
Expert: Dr Sloth Halloween Costume
Okay, so the fake beard wasn't that useful either. At least you tried. So if hiding your face doesn't work, you've just got to go full out! This amazing Sloth costume will transform you into the image of the formidable Sloth himself! You'll soon find that few people stand in the way of Sloth, so you'll have no problem going wherever you want. Of course there are a few downsides: people will be cowering in fear at your sight and too scared to talk to you, and will run out of any room you enter. Maybe you should imitate someone slightly less terrifying. Perhaps try Edna?
Essential Tool #9: Petpet
A good journalist can always do with a faithful companion. Not only can they be extremely helpful, but it's always nice to have someone to travel and spend time with. Being on the go constantly can get lonely, so bringing a friend along will keep you happy! Along with the company, they can easily fetch things for you, get a bird's eye view and get to places you might not be able to. Often overlooked as a useful tool for journalists, this is an easy way to get a leg up on your competition.
Who doesn't love a cute, little Doglefox? These extremely loyal petpets are the ideal candidate for the beginner journalist. Easy to take care of and with a great love to please, they can be taught quickly any tricks you wish them to know. Have them grab extra supplies or use their top notch sense of smell to keep you on the right track; they are a great choice, even as just a regular petpet! If you want to spruce your Doglefox up a bit, consider painting him a lovely Plushie colour. They'll lure everyone in with their extreme adorability!
The ability to get up high and get a good look around is a fantastic advantage for any journalist. If you're interested in getting a good view on any situation, consider a Horus as your choice of companion. Give it a small camera and have it record the area as it flies over; this technique is a very simple way of expanding any story and getting a unique view on things. Painting your Horus a bright colour, such as Spotted, will help you keep an eye on it as it flies up high!
The quintessential petpet for a journalist, any inspiring expert wishes to have themselves a Weewoo to accompany them. Not only does this winged petpet give you the advantage of a bird's eye view, they are also one of Neopia's best natural born editors. Editing is a very important step in the writing process and a good editor can make the difference between an accepted and rejected article. If you want to keep your writing skills in check and make sure you produce the best articles around, the Weewoo is the petpet for you! Want to go even more classic with your Weewoo? Invest in a White Petpet Paint Brush! You'll be the envy of everyone in Neopia.
Essential Tool #10: Mode of Transport
So many stories so little time. You've got to get around however you can, and the faster the better. Who knows what you might miss otherwise? We recommend upgrading this tool regularly, in the interest of comfort and not missing anything big (or you'll always regret it). You may not have given this a lot of thought until now, but it really is important for a good reporter to have a good mode of transport. Although you can use sources and helpers of all sorts, you can't get a really good story unless you check everything out yourself! So make sure you're ready to go wherever the story takes you!
Beginner: Rugged Work Boots
Beggars can't be choosers. Those boots have been good enough up till now, they're going to have to do for some time yet. So patch up the holes, give them a good shine before stepping out the door, and get some bandages for the sores. So much exercise will keep you on your toes, and you'll be able to run a race soon enough. Not that running a race will help with your journalist career. In fact we suggest you focus on your writing, and leave the running for when you're chasing leads.
Intermediate: Pink Racing Bike
Walking isn't quick enough. You keep getting to the scene just a few minutes too late and missing the headline: something must be done! You go into a shop and ask for the quickest bike they have. It's light, it's aerodynamic, and it's got great wheels and just the right handlebars. Just one little thing: it only comes in pink. Sometimes, one must sacrifice personal preferences for speed and this is one of those times! Also, a basket to put your satchel, coat, petpet and other essential tools in is recommended. You'll go faster if your movements are less impeded. Pedal away!
Expert: Private Rocketship
You're done covering news in Neopia Central. Less senior journalists can cover the countries that are easily accessible by road. You're past that. Now you're the one covering the most exciting news, not only on Neopia but on Kreludor and the space station too. And to do this, what better way than to use your very own, customized and very comfortable private rocketship? If you are lucky, the Neopian Times will provide this vessel for you due to the important nature of your work.
Phew! That was quite the list, but we stand by every bit of advice we gave. These tools are completely essential to any journalist, from the total beginner to the seasoned expert. If you want to succeed at being one of Neopia's top journalists, these are the things to help you along the path. There are a plethora of extra items you can add to your arsenal as you go, to make your works even better! Think of tossing in a camera or a typewriter to brighten up your articles with brilliant photos and give your writing a professional flare. Whatever your experience level, being a journalist is a rewarding job and hobby, and we recommend it to everyone! Who knows? You may end up published in the Neopian Times very soon!