My journalism journey – what I’ve learned so far

My journalism journey - what i've learned so far

PressPad’s editor Amber Sunner reflects on her upcoming one year anniversary at PressPad and gives her insight into what she has learnt over this time.

My one year anniversary in a journalism job is fast approaching! My three years studying for my journalism degree is also rapidly finishing. My time in the journalism sphere so far has been as enjoyable as I anticipated it to be. I have been receiving DMs asking how I got to where I am today… so let’s take a flashback of my time. (Sounds very dramatic doesn’t it…)

I’m 20, bear in mind, and I hope to have a long and fruitful career ahead of me! (Also I hope this interesting to some of you lovely people.)

In 2018 I chose to study a journalism degree, a very debated thing to do amongst journalists but I felt it would be the push in the right direction for me. I still stand by this decision – I’ve learnt skills during my time studying that have greatly influenced my journalism work today. 

In 2019 a lot of things happened which propelled my journalism journey. In December 2018, I applied to a lot of internships – small ones at magazines – in the hope of gaining at least a little real-world experience. I miraculously got one in East London meaning I had to pack up my things from my small town and temporarily move! It wasn’t exactly all I had hoped it would be – I talk more about this experience here.

Amber Sunner

2019 also marked my first baby step into the BBC. I was shortlisted for the Radio 4’s Young Journalist of the Year Award 2019. The selection day was incredibly exciting I got to meet a lot of like-minded people which is always very motivational. Meeting journalism heroes like Sarah Sands and Kamal Ahmed was such an honour too. 

In 2020, I feel like I stepped up my game just a little. First thing first – I got a part-time job at (you guessed it!) PressPad. I applied for this role with the same ritual I have developed for all of my job applications. Hit send, shut laptop, forget I sent it for fear of rejection… But I actually got it! It was honestly such a privilege to have something to do over lockdown and it was an even greater privilege to help young journalists – like myself – find confidence in their abilities. 

PressPad has opened so many doors for me. They have given me a lot of confidence in my work and have helped me develop my skills in abundance. 

In 2020 I also dipped a little bit into freelancing over the lockdowns and got some dream bylines published.

That’s my journey so far! The past four years of my life have been submerged in all things journalism – and I have loved every moment.

Here are a few things I’ve learned along my short journey so far – they are not all journalism-related because as much as we love writing our words on pages, speaking into dictaphones or in front of cameras that shouldn’t form our whole identity:

THERE’S NO REAL REASON TO COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS 

If you read last weeks’ newsletter, Dr. Maryhan Baker and I had a chat about this for PressPad newsletter readers. She said: “To help break this habit we must recognise that it’s not helpful and become content with who we really are.” 

EVERYONE MOVES AT THEIR OWN PACE

Rushing will not help in your quest of becoming the most acclaimed journalist that this decade will see. I was a stickler for rushing – I still am sometimes. Words can often spill out from my head onto pages and when I proofread that same work, often none of it makes sense. Why? It’s not because I am an awful writer (no one is)! It’s because I was rushing. I try taking things one step at a time always now.

LOOK AFTER YOURSELF

I remember I saw a tweet one day that resonated with me. “I am not my work,” it read. Sometimes I feel very flat about my work and it can affect my whole mood. I am learning to separate my own assigned self worth from the work I do. We are so much more than our work. We deserve to be well-rounded human beings. I think the nature of this philosophy is something I have benefited from greatly. We are so much richer than what we produce – find a hobby or spend time with the people you love. Look after yourself ❤️