Frith: "work on your weak points"
Aspiring young journalists were advised to put in the overtime and be nice to their boss if they want to get ahead in magazine journalism.
The half tongue-in-cheek advice came from Mark Frith, editor of Heat magazine, who was one of four speakers at a master-class seminar prior to this year’s PTC New Journalist of the Year Awards.
Frith, who gave tips on making it to the top, encouraged the trainees to offer to do "everything and anything".
He said: "One of the main things that has got me where I am is that I am always nice to my boss whoever they are and however they treat me.
"No boss wants someone who is in constant conflict. Be nice to them and they will be nice to you."
He encouraged journalists to be known as perfectionists but advised them not to let their jobs go to their heads. "It is tough being number one but if you work on your weak points, you can be number one and stay there," he said.
Ekow Eshun, former editor of Arena and Hot Air, offered advice on working as a freelance. He stressed the importance of understanding what a magazine was about before approaching an editor for work. "Unless you have an empathy for the title you want to write for, it is very difficult for an editor to be interested," he said.
Eshun also warned journalists about the realities of working in the showbiz sector. He claimed that dealing with celebrities was the most humiliating experience he’d had. "It is a degrading, humiliating experience without exception. You get a great cover out of it but you have to jump for the PRs and agents. It is monstrous. It really is appalling," he said.
Nicholas Coleridge spoke about his rise from reporter to his current role as the managing director of Cond Nast.
"I don’t really recommend working on your local paper. I don’t think it is a route to Fleet Street. I think the route to Fleet Street is to hang around Fleet Street or the modern-day equivalent and just put yourself in the eye of people who can give you work," he said.
He urged journalists to go out of their way to get a reaction. "When people buy a magazine there are only two things they can remember the following day about what they have read. You have got to be one of them – especially when you are trying to establish yourself as a journalist."
"It is important to have more than one string to your bow. It’s good to have a wide spectrum of things that you can write about," he added.
By Ruth Addicott