Giggles accompanied by uhm’s an aah’s is how a predominantly female audience welcomed the chizzled jawlined editor of Men’s Health South Africa, Jason Brown, yesterday.
Brown was Wits to give a talk about career opportunities for aspiring journalists. He addressed an intimate group of students at the Wits Journalism department. The seminar was organised by in part by the Media24 graduate programme which offers bursaries to journalism students.
Don’t be an editor
Brown, who has worked as an editor since 2001, told students not to become editors—which had the audience gasping, until he justified his controversial statement. The term ‘editor’ was becoming outdated because it describes those who supervise production and aren’t directly involved in news stories.
“Don’t be an editor. Become an auteur,” he said. Brown said an auteur was better as it described people who were more interested in the production of information.
The media landscape is rapidly changing. He encouraged students to always be willing to learn new skills to be able to keep up with the changes. He said regardless of the changing media landscape, journalism was still about a good story. [pullquote align=”right”]Your Twitter stream is your CV[/pullquote]
“It’s still about great journalism, great writing and a great story. A great story can be about anything, as long as it’s well written.” Brown emphasised the importance of journalists adhering to a brief, knowing their target audience and doing thorough research.
Don’t miss a deadline
Most important for Brown, were people who were able to meet deadlines. “Don’t ever miss a deadline. Most people ask me: ‘How can I write for you?’ And I say: ‘Don’t miss a deadline.’”
He said students should always seek out internships even if these were unpaid.“Work for free. Start small. Very few of us landed our dream jobs but you’ll always learn something.”
Brown worked for Cape Times early in his career. He said he hated newspapers but it was a “damn good experience”. He said he stuck it through because it was a stepping stone to getting him to his dream job.
Great books, blogs and magazines
Brown also gave advice on professionalism in the work place, specifically for the media industry. He said social media was a tool which prospective employers used to find out more about potential employees.
“Your Twitter stream is your CV. I can read your timeline and easily know if I want to hire. Follow smart people on Twitter.” Brown said the best writers and journalists were those who read a lot of literature.
He encouraged his audience to read “great books, blogs and magazines”.