It’s my second interview for the blog, and I have managed to get into contact with someone who has worked their way to the top – a journalist for over 20 years and the editor of Cruise International – Liz Jarvis.
After researching journalists, I came across Liz on twitter as well as seeing her blog ‘The Mum Blog’. Liz has worked on a huge variety of some of the UK’s leading publications, including women’s weeklies. To name just a few…
Daily Mirror, News International, Burda Magazines, Love it! magazines, Closer, Shape magazine, Real Magazine, Woman, Woman’s Realm, Now!… and that’s only a selection. She has worked up in the industry, going from Writer –> Feature Writer –> Deputy Features Editor –> Features Editor –> Contributing Editor –> Deputy Editor –> Senior Editor –> Editor –> Travel Editor –> Web Editor…
Liz also has her own, and very much recognized parenting blog – http://themumblog.com/– and has become one of the most visible members of the British parent blogging communities.
It’s clear that she has a wealth of experience in this industry, going from showbiz and lifestyle to a more travel-based journalism career. Her work on the celeb weeklies and woman’s mags were of great interest to me and her advice and journey of journalism is one I’d love to aspire to. Here we go…
Thank you for agreeing to answer some questions. Firstly, what sparked your interest in becoming a journalist?
I actually had my heart set on being an actress until I was about 16, but I suddenly had a lightbulb moment and realised that what I really wanted to do was become a journalist.
What further education did you have prior to becoming a journalist and do you think it has helped you in this industry?
I went to university and did a BA (Hons). I think some employers definitely place a lot of importance on having a degree – but it’s not the be all and end all. The most important thing is to have that hunger to be a good journalist and want to find great stories.
Could you describe briefly the steps you took into getting that first job in the industry?
I was incredibly lucky – I applied for a job as an Editorial Assistant, advertised in The Guardian. It was the first job I applied for.
Having seen you have worked for a huge variety of publications, what would you say was your most challenging?
Working on women’s weeklies is tough, particularly on real life or showbiz stories, because they’re constantly changing/evolving/dropping out, right up until you go to press, and you’re also trying to get as many exclusives as possible.
“Working on women’s weeklies is tough…”
So it can be challenging, but it’s also incredibly exciting – you get the same buzz as you do from being on a national newspaper.
You are now the editor of the travel magazine ‘Cruise International’ – what are the pros of being a travel journalist?
The obvious pro is that you get to travel (although not as often as you might think), but it’s also wonderful to be able to inspire the readers and share their travel experiences.
How do you think you came to be so successful in advancing through magazines and gaining higher positions?
Hard work, talent and a ‘can do’ attitude. I never say something can’t be done, I always try to make it happen. I’m lucky to have worked with some of the best journalists and editors in the industry and I’ve taken and learned something from every single one of them.
What are the main pieces of advice you would give to aspiring journalists, wanting to break into the industry at the moment?
It’s very tough and competitive out there, and you have to find a way to make yourself stand out if you’re going to land that dream job. Blogs are a good way to showcase your ability and can definitely lead to other opportunities (but for goodness’ sake spellcheck everything you’re posting).
“Seize every chance you’re given and make the most of it.”
It’s also a really good idea to get on Twitter but make sure you’re active as there’s nothing worse than a neglected account (and be careful what you tweet, as prospective employers will check it out). When you’re applying for a job, don’t tell the employer why the role will be good for you – they want to know what you have to offer them. Keep an open mind – OK you might have dreams of being a fashion editor or war correspondent but you have to start somewhere. Seize every chance you’re given and make the most of it.
Finally, Could you tell us a random fact about yourself?
I can do an impression of Janice from Friends 🙂
Follow Liz Jarvis on twitter: @LizJarvisUK