Become a Professional Journalist

Being paid to write things is a dream shared by many. It can be an exciting profession, but before embarking on a substantial course of study whit us or anyone else; be sure you fully understand what is involved. Some people simply don't succeed perhaps because the dream is not the same as the reality; or maybe they are simply not the right personality. This job is not just about writing well: it also requires you to be able to write fast, work under pressure. You also need to be prepared to write what an employer wants, which is not always the same as what you want. This is the reality of journalism. If you can get past these considerations, and with a bit of luck, you may be able to forge a serious career.

Dan Read, a student on our Diploma in Journalism course has recently had an article purchased for publication.  He said of the course - "I feel that the course has given me the tools and confidence necessary to make this possible."

Training for Journalists and Publishers

Journalists are primarily writers who are writing for periodicals (ie. things published at regular intervals). Some journalists work on staff for a publisher (full time or part time),from the publishers office; while others may work freelance or contract, from home, submitting articles which have been commissioned, or on spec (ie. in the hope they will be accepted).
Freelance journalists often start slow, only getting occasional articles published early in their career; but with persistence and good luck, they can develop a reputation and network of publishers who accept their work (so much so that they can earn a comfortable living from their writing).

Some in house journalists will find themselves being used to perform a range of other jobs in the office where they work. Particularly in smaller publishing houses, they may need to help with editing, layout -preparing publications for printing, web site development, marketing copy writing, conducting interviews, answering the phone, research for articles, photography, etc.

Some freelance journalists supplement their income by undertaking other work as well, such as contract editing for publishers, writing advertizing copy or web site development, taking and selling photos, etc.

This Diploma is designed to not only develop your capacity to write commercially viable copy, but also understand the publishing industry, and develop a variety of skills which will be useful to employers or yourself when pursuing a career in journalism.

To obtain this Diploma you must complete all assignments and pass an exam in eighteen modules, and provide written proof of having for a period of 300 hours either:

  • Attended industry meetings (e.g. Trade shows, seminars, committee meetings) relevant to event management, or
  • Undertaken 300 hours of work experience in a publishers office, in a situation which can be shown to be an effective learning experience

Compulsory (Core) Modules
All of the following must be completed and passed:
Freelance Writing
Creative Writing
Advanced Freelance Writing
Editing I
Editing II
Publishing I
Publishing II
Introduction to Photography
Research Project I

Elective Modules
Eight further modules must be chosen from the following:
Publishing III
Photographic Practice
Children's Writing
Technical Writing
Research Project II
Research Project III
Research Project IV
Computer Studies II
Computer Servicing I
Business Studies I
Advertising and Promotions
E Commerce
HTML (Writing a Web Site)

Note: Your choice of modules from those listed above should be determined according to deficiencies in your past studies or experience. Your choice of electives can (and should) be made, after completing the compulsory modules.

More details on each of these modules can be found within our web site; or by emailing us requesting details.


Content of Core Modules

Freelance Writing

There are ten lessons in Freelance Writing, covering:

  1. Introduction to freelancing
  2. Basic writing skills
  3. The publishing world
  4. Manuscripts
  5. Planning what you write
  6. Newspaper writing
  7. Magazine writing
  8. Writing books
  9. Writing advertising
  10. Special project

Creative Writing

The nine lessons are as outlined below
1. Introduction
2. Basic Writing Skills
3. Being Concise and Clear
4. Planning what you write
5. Fiction
6. Non Fiction
7. Newspaper Writing
8. Magazine Writing
9. Writing Books
10. Special Project


Advanced Freelance Writing

This has seven lessons:

  1. Introduction.
  2. Writing a Regular Column
  3. Educational Writing
  4. Scientific Writing
  5. Writing a Biographical Story
  6. Writing a News Article
  7. Fiction Writing

Editing I

This has eight lessons:

  1. Introduction to Editing
  2. The Mechanics of Clear Writing
  3. Assessing Manuscripts
  4. Copy Editing I
  5. Copy Editing II
  6. Preparing Copy for Printing
  7. Proof Reading
  8. The Final Stages

Editing II

There are eight lessons in this module as follows:

  1. Introduction to Editing -State of the Art
  2. Editing & Design
  3. Headings, Headlines & Captions
  4. Graphics
  5. Refining Text Exiting -common traps
  6. Matching Style and Context
  7. Legal and Ethical Issues
  8. Editing Project

Publishing I

  1. The Publishing World
  2. Publishing Procedures & Techniques
  3. Desktop Publishing
  4. Desktop Publishing
  5. Illustration: Graphics
  6. Illustration -Photography
  7. Researching
  8. Marketing in Publishing
  9. Publishing: Ethics & The Law
  10. Publishing Project

Publishing II

There are eight lessons in this module as follows:

  1. The Publishing Process
  2. Law and the Media
  3. Ethics & Morality
  4. Production Systems I –from writing to printing
  5. Production Systems II
  6. Layout for Print Media
  7. Media Advertising
  8. Marketing and Distribution Systems –Print & Electronic Media

Introduction to Photography

There are eight lessons in this module.

  1. Origins of Photography
  2. Film
  3. Photo Equipment: Cameras
  4. Photo Equipment
  5. Processing/Developing Images
  6. Enlarging and Photo Manipulation
  7. Lighting
  8. Fault Finding


The course is divided into 9 lessons as follows:

  1. Learning The Menus
  2. Working with Digital Image Files
  3. Understanding the Tool Palette
  4. Using Layers, Actions and History
  5. Digital Painting, Shapes and Colours
  6. Selecting, Resizing, Transforming and Masking
  7. Adjustments and modifications
  8. Adding Filters and Styles
  9. Preparing Files for Print and Web

Research Project I

There are 7 lessons as follows:

  1. Determining Research Needs
  2. Research Methods
  3. Using Statistics
  4. Research Reports
  5. Searching For Information
  6. Conducting Statistical Research
  7. Reporting On A Research Project. 
Not everyone is suited to being a successful writer. As with most professions, success comes through a combination of things: knowledge, skill, experience, a little luck, but also having a range of personal traits that are compatible with the job. 
A stereotype which is often touted is that creative writers are introverts. Although some may be, there are many writers who are flamboyant and outgoing. We could argue that as with everything else in life – writers are all different. However, there are some personality traits that writers tend to possess which are worthy of further discussion.

A creative person will usually have a wide range of potential energy. Some tend to work in intense bursts. They may work for hours on end, then feel exhausted. They can focus their energy onto their writing project with great enthusiasm, but can also lose interest quickly. We often harbour standardised images of the writer, working away into the night at the exclusion of anything else - but not all authors work like this. In fact, probably not too many live in environments where they are able to do this. It might cause too much friction in close relationships, or it might affect other work they need to do or interfere with daily commitments.
There are other authors who utilise their energy in a different way. They discipline themselves and work regularly at set times. Many authors are working and writing at the same time. Eventually if they are successful, or they are lucky enough that they do not have to work, they may be able to write when they wish.

Self Discipline
As alluded to under energy above, writers must have some degree of self-discipline to be able to write and create. Sometimes this might mean getting up at an unearthly hour in the morning on a cold winter’s day to continue writing, or to write late into the night when you are exhausted. It could entail not giving up on your writing after the one hundredth rejection. All of these things require large amounts of self discipline.

One would assume that intelligence is usually high in creative people. Many noteworthy authors have been to university. Many have studied the classics, but a university education is not a prerequisite to becoming a published author.
Intelligence is a multi-faceted concept. Clearly, creative intelligence is just one aspect of intelligence, and one which is usually abundant in creative types. Whilst many authors are intelligent in other ways, a creative writer would not necessarily need to be scientifically astute - though it might be an asset if their interest is in science fiction.

Introversion and Extraversion
As stated above, a popular misconception is that writers are introverted. On the contrary, many writers display extroverted behaviour. They may be seen to enjoy crowds and adulation. Extraverts are at their happiest when they are surrounded by people who give them attention, and who agree with their views.
Psychologists generally view introversion as a turning inwards. The introvert becomes preoccupied with their own thoughts and less interested in those of others. In extreme cases this is considered abnormal, but the need to share thoughts and ideas would probably mean that most writers would not become too introverted.
Although, there is a tendency to view a person as being one or the other, these days it is widely accepted that most people exhibit both introverted and extraverted behaviours. At best we might be able to say someone exhibits largely introverted or largely extraverted behaviours, but they are not the polar opposites that were originally proposed. In light of this, some creative people may be introverted in some areas, but extroverted in others. It is interesting then to note that E.L. Doctorow said that “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia”.
Great writing requires great imagination. Writers can help us to see beyond ourselves, to think about things in a new way. A non-fiction writer will use their imagination in deciding how to write a story, how to present the facts, how to make it interesting and entertaining. A fiction writer may use their imagination to take us into a new world, to make a purely fictional narrative come to life in the mind of the reader.

Lateral Thinking
Lateral refers to from the side, away from the central axis. When applied to thinking, the term means to approach a problem from many different angles rather than straight on. Good writers have a capacity to see the same thing from different perspectives.

Humour is creative. In writing, humour is quite an art because with does not always translate well from the written word. It may be construed as sarcasm or it may simply offend the reader if the humour is too subtle.
There are many different types of humorous writing. Satire is probably one of the oldest forms. Another is the double entendre or using words with double meanings into what you write. Malapropisms are where a word is substituted with another incorrect word in speech to make a sentence sound comical. The use of malapropisms was popularised in the play 'The Rivals' written by Sheridan. In it, Mrs. Malaprop continually uses words in speech which sound like the correct word but are actually incorrect.

Writers often have pride in their work, but they may also be humble. A great writer may doubt his or her own abilities, or play them down.
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
- Sylvia Plath

Rebelliousness and Conformity
Creative people can be both conformist and rebellious, traditional and extraordinary. They may try to stretch boundaries to change the world. They make take risks in their work, but they may also conform to what is expected on them.

Being open to new ideas, to new thoughts and new ways of thinking is another important trait in a writer. That overheard sentence can send a writer off into a new world or story.

The passion to write is also something of great importance to writers. Without passion, motivation is diminished; so it is always better to write about something that you are passionate about than something you have little interest in. Self-discipline is important, but so is that passion to create, to share work.
If this sounds like you, this course may be an excellent choice!