All good journalists have started at the local newspaper once.
According to my impression… in reality it is probably not like this, but nevertheless many have started there. I am one of them. I started at the local newspaper in Ellwangen (Baden-Wuerttemberg), it is called “Ipf- und Jagst-Zeitung” and is part of the “Schwaebische Zeitung” with all in all 20 local newspapers. At the age of 16 or 17 I started there with my journalism career. My editor-in-chief was Claus Liesegang – and he taught me a lot. At the beginning it was surely not a big pleasure to read my articles. But Claus was patient and clever. And he encouraged me to improve my skills as a reporter. His main credit was to learn Russian. He himself studied Slavonic studies in Regensburg and said: “Russia is an incredibly interesting reporting area. The Russian language serves a basis for all forms of investigations there.”
Nowadays I give newcomer journalists also the advice to start at a local newspaper. There is always a need for freelance journalists. And there are a lot of different appointments, from jubilees to various associations and the city council. Of course, it is important to develop one’s own interests and also independence. In future these abilities become even more important, so it is helpful to learn them as early as possible. Later on it is also necessary to interview people, to conclude the essential results, to write long features, to take pictures, to layout newspaper pages and so on. A local newspaper is the ideal location to make your first steps in journalism and to take away work samples which will be quite useful for applying for internships.
A career in journalism is like a line of stairs. There is one stair after another. Sometimes you fall back one stair, sometimes you fall forward two stairs. In general there is nothing like an arrival. It is always going on. The reason: The way is the aim.