Image: A-Z Quotes

Across a series of posts I’ve been exploring the habits of successful journalists that are often described as being “innate” or “unteachable”: from curiosity and scepticism, persistence and empathy, to creativity and discipline. In this final post I look at the quality underpinning them all: passion.

Are journalists only ever born with a passion for their craft — or is it something that can be taught?

Of all the seven habits that have been explored in this series, passion is perhaps the one that seems most innate — a quality that you “either have or don’t have”.

Can we teach…


In a previous post I wrote about the central role of creativity in journalism training — in this penultimate post in a series on the seven habits of successful journalists, I explore how discipline is equally important in directing that creativity towards a professional end — and how it can actually help create the conditions for creativity. You can also read the posts on curiosity, scepticism, persistence and empathy.

While many are attracted to journalism because of its opportunities for creative expression, few are attracted by its constraints. …


In the fifth in a series of posts on the seven habits of successful journalists, I explore how creativity can be developed in trainee journalists. You can read the posts on curiosity, scepticism, persistence and empathy here.

Describing journalism as a creative profession can cause discomfort for some reporters: we portray journalism as a neutral activity — “Just the facts” — different to fiction or arts that appear to ‘create something from nothing’.

But journalism is absolutely a creative endeavour: we must choose how to tell our stories: where to point the camera (literally or metaphorically), how to frame the…


Empathy is the first stage of design thinking. Image: Mike Boyson

In the fourth of a series of post on seven habits often associated with good journalism I look at a quality which is much less talked about, and often misunderstood — and why I believe it should be just as central as qualities such as persistence or curiosity. This was first published on the Online Journalism Blog.

Empathy — specifically cognitive empathy — is the ability to imagine what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes.

It is one of the more underrated qualities of good journalists, perhaps because people often confuse it with sympathy, or with emotional


Tenacity image by Rodger Evans

In the third of a series of post on seven habits often associated with good journalism I look at how persistence and tenacity can be taught in journalism training — and why it should be.

One of the earliest skills that broadcast journalists learn is how to conduct a vox pop. The vox pop is an attempt to ‘take the pulse’ of the public on a topical issue: the journalist will stand in a busy public place and ask passers-by to share their thoughts on the issue of the day.

The results will typically be used as part of a…


In a previous post I outlined seven habits often associated with good journalism that are often talked about (wrongly) as ‘innate’ or ‘unteachable’. In this second post I look at scepticism: why it’s so important in journalism, and how it can be taught.

Image: libquotes

On its own the first habit of a successful journalist — curiosity — can only take us so far as a journalist: as we ask questions of our sources, we cannot merely report what people tell us — especially if two different sources say contrasting things.

Scepticism is important in journalism because it moves us from merely…


This post was first published on the Online Journalism Blog.

Are good reporters born — or made? Can you teach the curiosity that all good journalists possess? The persistence of the best reporting? The creativity of the most compelling stories? Every so often I hear a journalist say that you can’t — that those quaities are ‘innate’ or “can’t be taught”…

This line of thought — a line which lacks the very curiosity and persistence that journalists are expected to aspire to — bothers me.

And it’s bothered me for some time.

Over the last year I’ve been thinking about…


S-Town isn’t just a podcast: it’s a website and social media accounts too

S-Town is a podcast from the makers of This American Life. It’s a great piece of storytelling — so it’s a perfect subject for applying some narrative concepts in order to understand how those can help professional storytellers and media workers to engage their audiences.

Mode, audience and genre

Let’s start with the basics. S-Town is multimodal: although it’s a podcast (audio), there’s also a website with both visual and textual components including transcripts (text), an About page (text) and a Music section (text with embedded music player). And there are social media accounts too, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. …


This post was first published in the Online Journalism Blog.

Death by Zoom: are we mistakenly trying to recreate the classroom instead of making something web-native?

A few weeks ago I was invited to talk at an online mini-fest about a ‘big idea’ for the future of online learning. I decided to talk about what I called ergodic education — how concepts from interactivity can be used to inform teaching as learners move online. In this post I talk about some of those concepts and how they can be adopted to a lockdown-era classroom.

Why ergodic education? The shovelware problem

Back in 2011 in the first edition of the Online Journalism Handbook, I created a simple diagram: the journalist, reader, and another


My resume is just a list of things I really never want to do again
My resume is just a list of things I really never want to do again

It’s that time of year when new journalism graduates start to apply for jobs. Having seen a lot of these over the years, I thought I’d put together a list of the mistakes I see most often — and what to do about them.

1. Talking about the activities that you‘ve done rather than the skills that you built

You might have work experience in the media with obvious relevance to the job you’re applying for, but what about other experience?

Remember that bar work, volunteering, manual labour, etc. will all have helped you develop skills that are useful as a journalist.

So when listing your employment history, don’t focus on what you did (“Working…

Paul Bradshaw

Write the @ojblog. I run the MA in Data Journalism and the MA in Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism @bcujournalism and wrote @ojhandbook #scrapingforjournos

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