How To Steal My Job: Journalist

In a three week special leading up to our Industry Takeover All Dayer on 16th April, we'll be talking to some of the key players heading up the panels and masterclasses to bring you their top industry tips.

In a three week special leading up to our Industry Takeover All Dayer on 16th April, we'll be talking to some of the key players heading up the panels and masterclasses to bring you their top industry tips.

Self-professed 'Hoods Music Journalist', Joseph 'JP' Patterson quickly made name for himself on the world wide web after blogging about his favourite subject of grime. Viewed as the go-to guy for all things grimey, he launched the popular music night, ChockABlock, dedicated to showcasing the best emerging and established talent in the scene, such as D Double E, P Money, Ghetts, Skepta and Jammer - to name but a few. Rising to the ranks of Editor at MTV’s The Wrap Up and possessing SUPERSUPER Magazine, XXL Magazine, BBC Introducing, The Independent and more recently The Source Magazine among his writing credits, JP isn’t planning on stopping anytime soon. Not forgetting his recent appearance on the controversial, panel-based MTV Base show - Best Of The Best: UK MCs 2010. JP has decided to share his top ten tips on how to steal his job...

1) Find a topic that interests you and run with it.

You have to find something you’re interested in writing about. Music? Fashion? Art? Politics? Whatever you have a passion for; just make sure you know it inside out.

2) Although everyone and their granny have a blog, it’s important to have one.

I started my blog 4 years ago, not knowing that I’d be in the position that I’m in today. I made one because I wanted somewhere to write about the raves that I went to - like a raving diary type of thing - 4 years later and I’m an Editor of a well-known company, a columnist and a freelance writer for a number of publications. If you’re just starting out, put together a little blog, it doesn’t have to be fancy or anything, just jot down posts as regular as possible and build up your own readership. I think blogs are important for any new writer starting out and trying to get commissions from publications, because it gives the Editor’s something to look at if you don’t have any sort of previous writing experience.  or is you!

3) Know your writing style.

Some people might like the way you write, some people won’t, that’s the way this business goes. For example, I used to write as if I was speaking to my bredrin on road, but you can’t always write like that if you’re writing for broadsheets such as The Independent or The Metro Newspaper. I’m not saying be something you’re not, but you just find that balance. Bring out your personality with your writing.

4) Hone your skills.
Having been told never to email an Editor back until I know how to spell and put a pitch together 3 years ago, it gave me determination to succeed. After I left school, I didn’t do any form of studying to become a journalist, because I didn’t know that this was the route that I was going to take, so I never went to any grammar and punctuation classes. Like, never. My skills were pretty poor only up until 2 years ago, before that; I used to send sloppy pitches with dreadful grammar thinking that I’d get commissioned. When you’re knocked back so many times, it gives you more of a drive.. So yeah, just make sure you’re on point when it comes to writing pitches. Rejection is a bitch!


5) Always stick to deadlines.

This is one of the most important things that you need to adhere to as a journalist. Deadlines! When you get commissioned for a piece, make sure that your work is on time because it shows that you’re reliable and that you take your pitch seriously. If you’re too busy to send the feature in on time, then why did you send the pitch in the first place? A lot of the time, if you don’t ask an Editor when you need to hand work in, they won’t tell you because they don’t really need to publish your work, it’s your idea so you should be on the case from the get-go. Just get on it straight away if you can, so that it’s in nice and early.


6) Are you up-to-date with what’s going on?

As a music journalist, you should always be on the ball when it comes to emerging talent. If you think an up-and-coming artist has the potential to do big things, why not be the first person to bring it to the people? For example, I was the first person to interview Giggs back in the day for SUPERSUPER Magazine and to see his name everywhere now is just amazing, I actually feel proud. The same with K Koke (big up RWD and XXL Magazine for publishing the interviews) and now he’s signed to Roc Nation and doing big things. It almost makes you feel like you’ve had a little input in getting them to where they are today, and that’s something you can look back on and be proud of in years to come.


7) Network as much as possible.

No matter where you live, always make sure you’re at events networking. You could be living out in the countryside (like myself), but there’s no reason why you can’t jump on a train and head to London for industry events, live events/showcases etc. Networking is a great tool to get yourself known, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people. Think of it like this, you could go to an event and meet your next boss, so just get yourself out there as much as possible. Even if you’re just starting out, be confident in yourself and make it known that you’re about! Even down to social networking, make sure your Twitter and Facebook game is strong! (Westwood voice).


8) It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there.

One thing that I’ve learned over the years, never get too close or friendly with people in the same field as you. I’ve had people in this industry smile in my face and then talk about me when I’m not looking, not knowing I get told everything by their other friends. There’s a lot snakes and it’s hard to know which ones are poisonous. There’s nothing wrong with being cool with people and having a laugh, but just know your boundaries. There are a lot of music journalists out there writing about the same thing as you, so everyone is out for themselves - no matter how you look at it. I’m not saying be a loner but know when to keep yourself to yourself, because if you get stung, there will be no one to help you. You’ve been pre-warned (laughs).


9) Know your competition.

I think it’s always important to know what’s going around you. Who’s new on the block (blog)? I personally don’t look at anyone as competition, but it’s always good to know what level people are at sometimes so you know when your game needs to be stepped up. A lot of journalists will never say that they look at other people’s work, but they do. If they tell you otherwise, then it’s a lie from Satan (laughs). Nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition.


10) Did I mention network?
It’s important, so I thought I’d say it twice (laughs).

To keep up to date with JP, check out:

Catch Joseph ‘JP’ Patterson at Industry Takeover All Day Seminar & Showcase taking place 16th April at the Rich Mix. For more info, visit your Industry Takeover All Dayer ticket and get a FREE copy of 'The Takeover' CD.