How to Build a Journalist Portfolio

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When it's time to get a job at a newspaper or a magazine, it takes more than a nice suit and good interview skills. You have to be prepared to show that you have the talent to work for the publication, and the only way to do that is with your portfolio. Building a strong journalistic portfolio can be time consuming and a bit tough, but it can be done if you follow these simple steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Clips
  • Glue or tape
  • Album, three-ring binder or portfolio
  • Compile your clips. In order to start a portfolio, you have to have something to put in it. Editors don't want to see things you've written in your spare time and placed in columns on your computer. They want to see that you have the ability to get yourself published. There are several ways to go about this. If you have written for your school newspapers, these articles will be good for your portfolio. Also consider calling your local newspaper and offering your services for free. You will probably start out covering "fluff" assignments, but these bylines will build your portfolio and the experience to help you get a paying gig.

  • Decide what you want your portfolio to look like. One of the simplest and cheapest portfolio requires a black three-ring binder and black poster board cut into 8 1/2-by-11 inch pieces with wholes punched in them to allow them to be put in the binder.

  • Read through your articles carefully, and decide what order you would like them to be in for the portfolio. Be sure to look for misspellings or grammar errors that you and the story's editors may have missed. Even a good story can be a drawback for an editor if it has errors in it.

  • Choose the first story for your portfolio keeping in mind the type of job you are seeking. Cut the article out, being careful to make sure to cut in a straight line, and glue or tape it to the first page of your portfolio.

  • Follow the Step 4 for each of your clips. If clips are too large to fit on one page, cut them at the jump and paste the jump to the back of the same page. For enterprise articles that take up most of a page before it jumps, fold the newspaper neatly and tuck it into a folder or pocket of the portfolio.

  • Flip through your portfolio, and make sure that your articles are in the order you want. Be prepared to talk to the editor in detail about the story's idea, interviews and writing.

Tips & Warnings

  • While the articles will be what the editor will pay close attention too, don't cut graphics or photos out of your articles. These will add interest and will show that you are able to work with photographers and graphic designers.

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