First Byline in D.C.

Back in in the District since June, which means I’ve been trapped in a city that is both still in pandemic lockdown while the weather report reads “over 90 and high humidity” for weeks on end. 2020 sucks.

This year has been hard, for everyone. The pandemic and quarantine, an economic depression, and – for people still in the job market like myself – the closure of most key early jobs and internships over the summer has been devastating. Add on the closure of most borders to U.S. travelers, the toxic politics of the States and of our president, the police brutality on our streets — everything seems pretty bleak lately.

At the same time, it is times like these where journalism, and journalists, are needed the most. Even with the growth of fake news, the loss in public trust in mainstream media, and the very real issues of newsroom bias — we need people to tell stories, to write about this moment as it is now and, maybe, be a part in shaping a more positive future.

The problem with journalism is that getting in the door is hard, and is even harder now with newsrooms closed, internships cancelled, and publications less willing than ever to finance and support freelancers. This was the situation I was in when I first set down to write this article for IJNet, a news project with the International Center for Journalists. I wanted to ask journalists who had been in the field their advice, not only for myself, but for a whole generation of young journalists like me getting their start at an age of societal and political turmoil even as traditional methods of becoming a journalist have disappeared.

There’s some good advice in here, advice that I know helped me in my own interviews, and which I think anyone in a similar position as myself will find valuable. Check it out:

Aside from working on the SOAS blog in 2019, the past year or so has been, personally, pretty dry for journalism. While I’ve set up enough of a communications career to keep afloat – and have learned a lot about newsletters, press releases, and social media in that time – what I’ve always wanted to do in that time was writing. Having a single byline up isn’t the end all be all, but it’s a start. A far cry from reporting in Bosnia, but a start.

That’s all I have for now, but I’m hoping to have more stories and content established soon now that I’m back in D.C. and settled in again.

Thanks for reading,

– Devin

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