Farm Journalist: Pro Tips From Catherina Cunnane
With years of experience in the publishing and digital media industries, our resident editor, Catherina Cunnane, shares advice for aspiring agricultural journalists.
- To keep up to date with agricultural news: keep your finger on the pulse;
- Be a competent user of social networks. – Have a presence in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, YouTubeetc.;
- learn from others – Shadow a journalist or editor to gain real-world experience in the profession. Use this opportunity to your advantage and ask questions – after all, that is key to becoming a successful journalist!
- Establish your own identity and build an online portfolio – set up your own blog site on Wix, WordPress, Weebly or Blogger, for example. This will allow you to hone your writing skills, explore various writing styles, practice your interview skills, and become familiar with social media and content management systems;
- Expand your skill set – There are several creative writing, blogging, graphic design, SEO, broadcasting, photography, social media management, podcasting and/or video editing courses, some of which are short, free and virtual, available that can enhance your CV;
- Education – Unlike other professions or industries, there is no formal specialist journalism/agricultural media/degree program in Ireland. Therefore, there are various paths into the field, which can take the form of completing a degree, bachelor’s or master’s degree, for example, in journalism, media, public relations, communications or other related fields. If you wish, you can add a Green Certificate or an award in the agricultural field at a higher level to your educational portfolio. Alternatively, you may consider obtaining a degree in agricultural science or agriculture at level 7 or 8 before taking a short writing/journalism course. Some agriculture/agricultural science graduates with keen journalistic acumen may not even need to complete a writing course, but may instead receive in-house training with a senior journalist or editor at a media company. In addition, some agriculture students complete a media company placement as part of their work experience module. It’s worth noting that the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists has a journalism training awards programme, sponsored by John Deere, for ten trainees from various backgrounds with “very little or no” practical journalism experience. It is designed to discover the next generation of agricultural journalists and returned last year, after a two-year Covid-induced absence.
- Learnings – Others secure their foot on the career ladder through a media internship. Readers should note that a digital marketing and media NFQ Level 6 apprenticeship will be rolled out in Ireland in the fourth quarter of this year, as reported by that’s agriculture.
- autonomous – Some companies offer freelance opportunities, which may involve intermittent and varied presentations. You can get some experience in ag before you jump in and keep your current work/education commitments. that’s agriculture currently has a number of opportunities for freelance writers. For more information, send an email to: [email protected]
- Be familiar with journalistic ethics. – In short, seek the truth and report it: be accurate, fair and thorough;
- Be a responsible social media user – Avoid posting unprofessional photos or statements. Think twice before posting: build and maintain a positive digital reputation. Be careful with their use and participation: journalists are public figures;
- common misconceptions – You do not need to have a farming/rural background to be successful as an agricultural journalist, nor do you need to have writing experience. It is possible to learn about both on the job, although it is important that you have a passion for both writing and agricultural/rural issues etc.
- Traits – Must be passionate, motivated, hard-working, flexible, curious, professional, persistent, trustworthy, a competent communicator, able to work independently and/or in a team, creative and organized, and with great attention to detail.
- Challenges and opportunities – As is the case with every profession, it comes with its share of challenges and opportunities. A particular piece of content that you have high hopes for may not trigger the desired response, or may not be perceived as positively as you hoped. Similarly, you may need to burn the midnight oil or clock in before dawn to post an exclusive story or prepare your tracks. But agricultural journalism can become a fulfilling career filled with opportunities that allows you to travel, network, inform, educate and inspire!
For more information or inquiries, email – [email protected]