Here’s The Late Michael Hastings’ 10 Essential Tips For Young Journalists

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Tragic news broke last night that war correspondent Michael Hastings died in a car accident in Los Angeles. He was 33.

It’s not everyday that a piece of journalism takes down a 4-star general, but that’s exactly what he did in his 2010 profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal for Rolling Stone, “The Runaway General.”

Last year, Hastings conducted an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit where he was asked what advice he would prospective journalists.

His answer is worth paying attention to:

  1. You basically have to be willing to devote your life to journalism if you want to break in. Treat it like it's medical school or law school.

  2. When interviewing for a job, tell the editor how you love to report. How your passion is gathering information. Do not mention how you want to be a writer, use the word "prose," or that deep down you have a sinking suspicion you are the next Norman Mailer.

  3. Be prepared to do a lot of things for free. This sucks, and it's unfair, and it gives rich kids an edge. But it's also the reality.

  4. When writing for a mass audience, put a fact in every sentence.

  5. Also, keep the stories simple and to the point, at least at first.

  6. You should have a blog and be following journalists you like on Twitter.

  7. If there's a publication you want to work for or write for, cold call the editors and/or email them. This can work.

  8. By the second sentence of a pitch, the entirety of the story should be explained. (In other words, if you can't come up with a rough headline for your story idea, it's going to be a challenge to get it published.)

  9. Mainly you really have to love writing and reporting. Like it's more important to you than anything else in your life--family, friends, social life, whatever.

  10. Learn to embrace rejection as part of the gig. Keep writing/pitching/reading.



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