Journalism is a pool staffed by distracted lifeguards and no matter how fancy your school is, your first week in a real newsroom will feel like a shove in the small of the back into 15 feet of water. Most of us come up for air eventually, but if you’re like journalist and educator Colleen Steffen, you may still be left feeling like all that training in inverted pyramids and question lists left something important out: you!

Journalism is people managing, wrestling truth and story out of the messy, confusing raw material that is a human being, and the messiest human involved can often be the reporter themselves. So it’s time to talk about it. Instead of nervously skirting the sizable EQ (emotional intelligence) portion of this IQ (intelligence intelligence) enterprise, Soft Skills for the New Journalist explores how it FEELS to do this strange, hard, amazing job—and how to use those feelings to better your work and yourself.

chapter |3 pages


Welcome and congratulations! You’ve chosen well

chapter Chapter 1|6 pages

A is for Attitude

chapter Chapter 3|4 pages

Finally we get to the important stuff

chapter Chapter 4|8 pages

So something shiny caught your eye …

chapter Chapter 5|5 pages

Working on your pitch (not the sports kind, sorry)

chapter Chapter 6|7 pages

Editors have the worst ideas

chapter Chapter 7|5 pages

Hi, stranger! The in-person approach

chapter Chapter 8|4 pages

Can’t I just email???

chapter Chapter 11|7 pages

All about sources

chapter Chapter 12|5 pages

Take a flying (imaginative) leap

chapter Chapter 13|5 pages

The all-important nutgraf

chapter Chapter 14|5 pages

So … I’m supposed to say what to this person?

chapter Chapter 15|9 pages

OK! Finally! Interviewing!

chapter Chapter 16|4 pages

Journalism magic—it’s a thing!

chapter Chapter 17|4 pages

Or maybe just shut up for a minute

chapter Chapter 18|3 pages

Don’t rush off to lunch just yet

chapter Chapter 19|7 pages

Yes, you still need a notebook

chapter Chapter 20|5 pages

Don’t be a banker

chapter Chapter 21|5 pages

Get in shape

chapter Chapter 22|3 pages

To outline or not to outline

chapter Chapter 24|4 pages

But also … try this to love writing a little more

chapter Chapter 25|3 pages

Get your crap together

chapter Chapter 26|5 pages

How to tell when you’re done

chapter Chapter 27|4 pages

A word about grammar

chapter Chapter 28|5 pages

Developing a journalist’s conscience

chapter Chapter 29|7 pages

The day after

chapter Chapter 30|4 pages

Speaking of what other people think …

chapter Chapter 31|5 pages

You did it! You’re done!

chapter Chapter 32|5 pages

WWNBD? (What would Nellie Bly do?)

chapter Chapter 33|4 pages

Keep your head in the game

chapter Chapter 34|3 pages

I believe in you! Goodbye!