As a university student, there are some practical supplies that you will always need, from things like basic notebooks and pens to major specific supplies. But as a journalism major, there are few extra items that you will absolutely want to invest in if you want to make your studies just a bit easier. If there’s one thing that journalism majors will come to know is just how much the phrase ‘practice makes perfect’ will come to apply to them. But by investing in these shopping supplies, you’ll be ahead of your game and ready to hit the ground running come graduation!
1. Reporter Notebook
Maybe you got a flash of inspiration for a new article or interviewee, you need to take notes fast on information someone is giving you right now, or you find yourself without your technical equipment and need to do a spontaneous interview (it will likely happen at some point)—whatever the case you will always want to carry around a pocket sized notebook for emergencies.
Also in general, use this to take notes during your interviews! You will probably be recording it anyway, but just in case something goes wrong like it didn’t actually record or the audio is bad, you want to have a secure physical copy with you as well so that you always have something.
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2. High Quality Voice Recorder
It may be tempting to buy a cheaper recorder over some of the more expensive brands out there, but when it comes to long-term investments, this is seriously one of those areas where it is better to invest and get a good recorder than risk a bad one. You’ll want to look for something that records high quality sound, has lots of memory, and most importantly one that comes with a built in USB stick—trust me. The last thing you want to do is try and transcribe the file manually from the recorder or try to record it onto your computer through another program.
Having a USB stick built in will both save you time and frustration, and allow you to drag and drop files into some of those super useful transcription sites, saving you even more time.
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Do not trust your ears when it comes to your recordings. Even if there is a little bit of wind or a bit of talking in the background that you think doesn’t sound too loud, your recorder will pick up on this and it will mess with the quality of your recording. Purchase a good pair of on the go headphones to plug into your recorder so that you can listen while it records and ensure that the sound quality is what you need it to be. If it’s not, at least you’ll know right away and can move somewhere quiet or alter the settings.
If you are in the multimedia field of journalism, the last thing you want is to film or take a really great shot, only to return home and find out that it turned out blurry. While a tripod is great for those getting into serious photojournalism, a monopod is a good in-between that isn’t as big and heavy. A monopod is also great if you are constantly moving around and want to ensure you get a good stable shot, but don’t have the time or space to set up and take down a full sized tripod.
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5. Flexible Mini Tripod
This one is another amazing alternative to both a tripod and monopod that is especially useful for landscape or nature photographers. The mini tripod is both lightweight and has flexible legs so you can literally wrap it around anything for a completely new angle. This is also useful for multimedia journalists who need an even faster set-up and take-down over a monopod, and if you haven’t invested or don’t have the money for a DSLR camera, these minis come in phone sizes as well.
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6. AP Style Guide Book
Buy it, learn it, love it, (probably end up hating it as well), but carry it with you always, because this little book will be your best friend for referencing all the different rules of journalistic style. You can buy a physical copy of the book to carry around, or there is an online option as well that you can keep on your phone. Whatever you decide, make sure you always have a copy on hand because no matter how well you think you know the rules, there will be plenty of late nights where you just cannot remember the rules of tautology or jargon (it happens to all of us).
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7. Professional Profile Website Domain
If your professors are already telling you to purchase an online domain and start putting up your work, you’d best listen and do it. Getting a head-start on your online presence will be huge later down the road once you’ve graduated or start looking for work. You can of course use a free site like WordPress or Blogger, but keep in mind that your URL will then have the site attached to the end.
The reason we’ve included a personal website domain name is so that you have that crisp, professional sounding domain that any potential employer can look at. You want to stand out in your field, not blend in. So, putting that extra effort (or cash) into purchasing a domain that you can keep up for the rest of your career as you grow will be a huge payoff down the road.
8. USB Stick
Buy this and get into the habit of backing up not just everything on it, but also doing so regularly. Obviously you always want to have backups, but by doing so regularly, you will also have a regular set of backups at different time stamps. So, if you lose your work or need to reference an older version, you will always have a copy on hand. It’s always better to have a ton of backups than only a few and find out later you really need a specific version.
Also be sure to really name your files to something that you can quickly recognize at a glance. The last thing you need is to be scanning a list of files variously labeled ‘IMG_0425’ and so forth. You’ll never find the file you need, so make sure you label!
9. Reporter Bag
Backpacks will work during your university years, but once you graduate, you will want something that is stylish (if you want), but most importantly is functional and will fit all you need to bring with you. You also don’t want anything that is too big and bulky, and make sure it has a strap! You want a low maintenance bag you can sling on without trying to hang onto while taking notes or photographs.
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10. Extra Batteries, SD Cards, And Pens
Last on our list, but just as important, are these trios of backups. Having backups of these three items cannot be stressed enough, because no matter how prepared you think you are walking into an interview or up to a police officer to ask questions, there is always going to be the chance that something goes wrong. The batteries to your camera or recorder which are supposed to be freshly charged have died, your SD is full or having a technical error, and you lost your favourite pen or it has run out of ink. Having backups will save you this panic and keep you prepared in any situation (just make sure you charge those backup batteries!).