Ellie Austin, Features Writer for Radio Times at Immediate Media Co.
Ellie Austin scored a job at Immediate Media as a Features Writer for Radio Times after graduating from the Magazine Journalism MA course at City University. Here she talks about working in the fast-paced world of a major weekly magazine and the power of a good coffee.
I studied French and Spanish at Durham University prior to my MA at City. I always loved languages and I wanted a good grounding in a different academic subject before moving into journalism. Languages are all about communication, both written and verbal, so I always knew the skills that I was developing would be very relevant to a career in journalism.
I decided early on that I would use my year abroad in Spain and France to get really useful work experience. I first spent six months working at online fashion magazine Ykone in Paris, followed by five months at a publishing house in Madrid. I knew both would hold me in good stead when it came to applying for my Masters degree.
I also did some internships in the UK too, working at my local paper, Tatler, the Press Association, Broadcast Magazine and The Daily Telegraph. I didn’t do much student journalism because I found it hard to fit in with everything else during term time. I loved undertaking work experience because no matter what I ended up doing, just seeing the pace and process of magazine/newspaper production is invaluable.
It’s really hard working at a weekly publication, but I love the fast-paced environment. We essentially make each issue in four days, and then a changeover day on Friday. I always used to spend weeks agonising over essays at university, so it was challenging at first to realise I sometimes had to let go a bit and file copy I wasn’t 100% happy with. With such tight deadlines it’s about doing the best you can in the time you have.
The hardest thing I had to overcome was having my writing critiqued, you need to develop a thick skin early on. It’s a very personal thing, and whereas at school or uni any criticism is constructive and carefully delivered, there isn’t time for that in the working environment. You need to try and distance yourself between you and your writing. The feedback I get from Editors has been the best learning tool possible and if now I feel like they’re holding their criticism back to protect my feelings, I ask them to be upfront. I really value their opinions.
Never underestimate the power of coffee. Going for coffee with someone and getting a face-to-face meeting with them is a massive advantage. It is great to respond to job adverts that you find online, but if people can put a face to your name, you’ve got an immediate advantage.
My biggest tip for someone looking to get into the journalism industry would be to trust your judgement. Don’t get pushed into writing something that you don’t feel to be true because it will make a good story. Your perspective is just as valid as anybody else’s.