“Work hard, have no friends and go and interview real people.” This was the advice from Josh Halliday who started a job as a writer on the Guardian days after graduating from an NCTJ course. Josh came to the Brighton Future of News Group meet-up in Brighton at The Eagle in Brighton in January.
He set up his own hyperlocal website, SR2, in Sunderland, while he was at university. It covered one and a half square miles and had 900 users a month.
“It started as a slapdash effort in two hours, then I started updating it four or five times a day. No one else on our course was interested in local news or anything extra curricular.
“I used to go to neighbourhood watch meetings with half a dozen pensioners and a policeman there, my success all boiled down to personal relationships and actually getting out there. Showing up shows you care,” he said.
And he said he thought the scheme at Brighton Journalist Works, where NCTJ course members all have a page each on The Argus website covering a patch of the city, was brilliant, making it possible for students to replicate his success.
His tips for stardom on their patches? “Set up searches for your area on Twitter and Facebook, follow-up stories in the newspaper, adding something new, and get out and talk to people. There’s no trick to it,” he said.
He attracted readers to his site via Twitter, and soon prominent journalists, including his future employers, were following him. When he graduated, the Guardian called him up. “I was amazed and have still not had time to take it all in,” he said.
After the meeting Greg Hadfield, the Brighton web guru who used to head up digital development at the Daily Telegraph, said Josh’s talk was inspiring. He also knew of BJW graduate Tom Hasson who got his job via twitter (see earlier BJW blog) and said that could be the future of job-hunting: blog your way to a job.