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

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.

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.

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.

Norman Mailer Victor Drees / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

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

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

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

Edward R. Murrow Erich Auerbach/Stringer / Getty Images

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.

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.)

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.

Hunter S. Thompson Wikimedia Commons / MDCarchives

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

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