Michael Hastings Had 10 Tips For Young Journalists

Hastings, who was a reporter for BuzzFeed and Rolling Stone, died in a car crash early Tuesday. He was 33. Last year, he wrote the following advice “for you and young journalists in general” during a Reddit AMA.

Michael Hastings Paul Morigi / Getty Images

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1. You basically have to be willing to devote your life to journalism if you want to break in. Treat it like it’s medical school or law school.

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2. When interviewing for a job, tell the editor how you love to report. How your passion is gathering information. Do not mention how you want to be a writer, use the word “prose,” or that deep down you have a sinking suspicion you are the next Norman Mailer.

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3. Be prepared to do a lot of things for free. This sucks, and it’s unfair, and it gives rich kids an edge. But it’s also the reality.

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Norman Mailer Victor Drees / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

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4. When writing for a mass audience, put a fact in every sentence.

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5. Also, keep the stories simple and to the point, at least at first.

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6. You should have a blog and be following journalists you like on Twitter.

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Edward R. Murrow Erich Auerbach/Stringer / Getty Images

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7. If there’s a publication you want to work for or write for, cold call the editors and/or email them. This can work.

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8. By the second sentence of a pitch, the entirety of the story should be explained. (In other words, if you can’t come up with a rough headline for your story idea, it’s going to be a challenge to get it published.)

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9. Mainly you really have to love writing and reporting. Like it’s more important to you than anything else in your life — family, friends, social life, whatever.

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Hunter S. Thompson Wikimedia Commons / MDCarchives

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10. Learn to embrace rejection as part of the gig. Keep writing/pitching/reading.

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