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Friday, 12 March 2010

If it's true or movie actors, why not for journalists? We watch what the actor takes on, assess their character and ethics, judge them. But not only us. The directors and casting agents are watching too. Each new film registered on the board helps add up to something bigger, more meaningful, than itself. It's cumulative persona crafting.

As a journalist, I am judged in the same way. Each story I write adds up to a bigger whole in the eyes of editors, who seek out writers they think are suitable for their publications. So every time I choose a story to write, I'm choosing my future career path.

Beyond the headline, too, there's a trend. A headline indicates something about your preferences. But the story itself tells more, for those who take the time to read them.

In my case, I put a link to each story I write on my website. Maybe this is not such a good idea. I notice other writers simply list the publications they've been associated with. I go a step further, but maybe I shouldn't.

Then again, it may be paying off. For example, I pitched a story about sustainable tuna to a magazine that focuses on ethical investing. They weren't interested. But the editor took the time to visit my website and read some of the stories linked there. I may be in line to receive a new commission.

For me, it's early days. Commissions are hard to come by. At this point, it seems judicious to help myself develop a following by broadcasting my portfolio as far as possible.

Commissions are dreadfully hard to come by. But the other thing is that I want to be writing stories I'm personally interested in. Specialisation, we're told again and again, is the way to go. It may be too early for me to be known as an expert in environmental issues, for example, but you've got to start somewhere.

It may be too early for my Oscar - my Walkley or whatnot. But the only way to get there is by writing. And the only way to be published is to keep editors interested.

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