Not fashion journalism. Journalism fashion.
I think it’s certainly a unique style. Not only do we have to be practical, as we are going to be walking all over the place, we also want it to be dressy. A journalist doesn’t want to look too dressed up though. Maybe they’ll just be talking to a citizen today; maybe it will be the CEO. We have to dress for both, because it’s unpredictable.
It’s good to start with a watch. First of all, it’s an essential. If you’re in an interview and need to check the time, it would be completely rude and off-putting to pull out your phone to check the time. You want it to be a watch that goes with everything. Probably not a digital watch, as those often are bulky and look a tad bit tacky.
For women, makeup should be a must. But, keep it tasteful. You don’t need to look like you’re going out to work Broadway and Ninth. For men, facial hair should either be gone or well kept, unless you’re in the investigative department and have been up for over 24 hours. 🙂
Of course every good journalist should have a well-fitting blazer/jacket in his or her collection. For women, pencil skirts are good, as long as they’re not too high and not trashy. Men: you don’t have to wear slacks identical to your jacket. Jeans and a jacket aren’t recommended though. In fact, jeans are only really acceptable when you’re in the newsroom or at home cranking out a story on deadline or when your source would feel uncomfortable if you were dressed up. Then, look put-together, but think casual.
The classic trench coat, fedora with the press pass sticking out of the top with your notebook out and ready to go might be a little over-the-top all together, but your notebook should definitely be out if you’re interviewing- it’s as essential as a watch. The other two pieces are still good, probably just not together. You might look like Halloween.
All of this is important to remain conscious of, because you have to be aware of how you are being represented. You are the icon for all journalists when you are out on a story. The same goes for what you say and print. If you make one flub, the person the error is directed towards will probably not trust journalists for a very long time afterwards. They might end any subscription they had to your publication, and they will probably tell their friends.
It’s unfortunate that so many before us have made these errors. I look at Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair and wonder what happened. Years ago our career was represented by heroes. Literally. Superheroes are very often journalists. Spiderman was a photojournalist. Superman was not only a journalist, but his girlfriend was a journalist too (though clearly not a perceptive one, otherwise I feel like she would have realized Kent was Superman a long time ago).
I hope our generation of journalists can fix that. I hope that there aren’t people in my class of 2014 that would vow to never plagiarize and falsify a story. I don’t know that, but I certainly hope.
And I hope they stay honest with style.