August is here and with it comes the back-to-school season. It doesn’t matter if you’re enrolling your child into preschool or going back to school yourself, one thing is for sure: back-to-school shopping is a must.
Thinking back to younger days, that might have meant going to the local store with our parents and picking out a shiny new backpack, crayons, and cartoon character-covered folders.
While there may not be a need for crayons or cartoon character folders in journalism school, there is still a need for the right tools for success. When people think journalism, most think a computer and a cup of coffee are all you need to get a good story in the books. As nice as that would be, there is still a bit more required to help you put your best writing forward.
Some of the best supplies for a journalism student may come in the form of hardware or software. In fact, some of the best ways to quickly (and affordably) boost your writing could be as easy as downloading a free add-in to your favorite browser. However, that’s not to say that you should skip over the core hardware products.
Bringing these two groups together will have you ready for class and ready to create your best work yet.
8 tools every journalism student needs
- Laptop – OK, a laptop and a cup of coffee are essential. This one from Lenovo is a good option as it maximizes the flexibility of a laptop with a 360-degree flip-and-fold design and has touch-screen capabilities.
- Recorder – A high-quality recorder will help you get every detail exactly right and let you revisit old interviews. The digital recorder from EVISTR, for example, has a noise-canceling microphone and voice activation, handy features for recording an interview or lecture.
- Noise-canceling Headphones – When you need to tune out the world and meet that deadline, a good set of headphones will keep you on track and focused.
- Pen Scanner – Even today, not all information is digitized. So when you need to scan documents quickly, a portable pen scanner will be sure to do the trick. Pen scanners, like ones from Scanmarker, will upload the editable text to your laptop quickly and are easy to use.
- Grammarly – This add-in extension is a great option to help even the best writers perfect their writing. You can add the Grammarly writing assistant extension to Google Chrome for free. Upgraded plans will help you with things like tone, readability, and plagiarism.
- PR Newswire for Journalists – Need a story idea? This platform allows student journalists to create custom newsfeeds based on their interests and coverage area. If you write for the school paper, freelance, or blog, sign up for a free account and contact our team for a walkthrough.
- TinEye – As a journalist, credibility is everything. To know that your photos are real and haven’t been photoshopped, run them through the TinEye browser extension for free. It's critical to understand what photos you can and can't include in your writing.
- Social Media Monitoring – Social media is noisy and it can be tough to cut through the clutter. Social media monitoring tools can help students hone in on the stories and trends that matter to them. Echosec, for example, helps you narrow down leads by social media posts in a given geographical region. If you’re covering a story about a certain city, this could be a great start! CrowdTangle is another popular option that also offers a Chrome extension.
Whether you’re a brand new student or about to graduate, these eight tools will be sure to help you improve your organization, story ideas, and even your overall writing skills without breaking the bank. Implementing all or even one of them could help you be more organized and produce better stories.