How do you decide what to pack for the next six weeks of your life? Well, like me, you’d have no idea where to start. I don’t even know what tomorrow’s going to be like, let alone the next month-and-a-half. So I decided that instead of packing whatever whenever, I’d have to start with the most obvious things: my reporting tools.
To anyone else who isn’t a journalist, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but if you’re an intern trying to secure your spot in a tough industry, these tools are more important than food. So, what are these fabulous and incredibly important tools I talk about? Well, they’re pretty much anything you’d find for a dollar at the dollar store or in your home office.
1. Coffee and/or tea
For any normal journalist, coffee is like oxygen. But because my first job as a bus girl at a local breakfast nook made me hate the smell of coffee, I’ve instead turned to tea. No journalist can be without their coffee or tea and their coffee mug.
I’m sure this magical concoction of water and beans or leaves will prove to be my saviour.
I’m sure this comes as a surprise as the number two most important thing, but trust me, caffeine is very important. But a journalist can’t be without their main research and communication tool: the laptop.
I don’t mean a general desktop computer or tablet, we need a portable laptop that’s fully equipped with every program we need and Internet. And with this current age of computer and social journalism, I need to make sure I have access to social media.
In times of urgency, your computer may not be able to cut it, so a smartphone is in order. Keeping direct contact with your editor is very important and e-mail might not be fast or get a message across clearly. And although your laptop is a must, it’s not always practical in some situations (ahem, scrums). For quick emails, research and a direct and clearer line of contact, a smartphone is key.
4. Pens and pencils
This one should be obvious. A journalist kind of really needs something to write with. A journalist also knows that they should have both pen and pencils on them. You never know what kind of weather you’re going to get and a pen may not work. For pens, I usually prefer gels. They’re easier to write with, have a smoother flow and is less stress on your hand and wrist. For pencils, I like the retractable type.
Now that I have something to write with, I need something to write on. I could use any scrap paper, but let’s face it, a journalist is walking organized chaos so keeping order in any way possible is a good idea.
Small notepads are good for quick notes and ideas, medium size pads are ideal for interviews and large notebooks are good for keeping track of your research.
No matter how hard any journalist tries to write something down accurately, there’s always a chance of missing something. I love having a recorder but I definitely don’t rely on it alone. Recorders are like any other technology in the sense that it can’t be 100 per cent reliable. But my mostly-trustworthy recorder is a good back up and reinforcer of any interview I do or notes I take.
7. Sticky notes
I love lists, but I often forget about the ones I’ve made and then end up making a list of lists I’ve made. Make sense? No, it doesn’t. So, sticky notes are a good way for me to remember things. They remind me of what important things need to be done immediately instead of having them lost in a pile of lists.