Like the MFA and PhD, a graduate degree in journalism is a diploma whose very benefit has been questioned for years. Walking past the fancy, impressive doors marked “lawyer” and “doctor“, the journalism student instead goes to a small, creaky door, motivated by the pursuit of truth, or a desire to write, or some high-minded notion of being the voice in the back of the press room questioning why. One thing’s for sure: it can’t be for the money.
Whatever the reason, journalism school provides the opportunity to study under accomplished writers, learn the “correct” way to do journalism, and to write something substantial, freed from the stress of real world. That is, until you graduate, join on as a low-level intern at a digital media company, and are worn down by listicles until you crawl across the aisle to public relations.
But such is the difficult, mostly worthwhile path of the modern journalist. And fortunately, there are a number of excellent tools from journalist greats past and present to help navigate the journey of seeking the truth.
For the Dorm and Library
The Chicago Manual of Style Online ($36)
Some publications may use their own house style, but it’s hard to go wrong with CMS.
The Associated Press Stylebook 2015 ($14)
Building on the CMS, the AP Style Guide also includes a brief on media law that can help answer little questions before they become big problems.
The Elements of Style ($5)
A pocket-sized lifesaver, giving you the bare bones roadmap to language; tweak and bend it as you see fit.
Next Issue ($10+)
An iOS, Android and Windows app that gives you access to a multitude of monthly and weekly publications for a small monthly fee. You can’t write with the best if you aren’t reading the best.
Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker ($30)
Cheap, efficient and small enough to fit in your tiny writer’s studio.
Apple MacBook Pro ($1,299)
Because in today’s age you need the processing power to be able to edit photo and video yourself.
On the Shelf, In the Closet
Success Starts at Home
Up in the Old Hotel ($15) | Down and Out in Paris and London ($5)
Slouching Towards Bethlehem ($11) | Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 ($13)
Inspiring writing from some of journalism’s greats.
On Writing ($10)
King’s classic book on writing helps with fiction and nonfiction alike.
Brooklyn Tailors Cotton Oxford Dress Shirt ($185)
For looking clean cut and professional, without attracting too much attention.
Cole Haan Lunargrand Chukka Boot ($102+)
Comfortable shoes for on-the-ground reporting, shooting and interviewing, that also look presentable when you reach your next press event.
Rhodia Webnotebook ($20)
It’s important to write for yourself — and just for yourself — to keep your sanity.
Rite In The Rain 4×8 Notebook ($10)
Reporter’s notebooks are designed for easy writing in most environments; for this one at least, that includes the rain.
Pilot G2 Roller Pen ($12)
Readable, reliable and cheap to replace, for when you invariably lose it on assignment.
Fujifilm X-T1 16 MP Mirrorless Camera ($1,599)
For one-man-band freelancers, photos are as important as the words, and the Fuji’s kit lens lets you capture the details from afar.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6 ($143)
What’s a camera without editing software?