The world is a very complicated place. Global warming, European law, religious sects, Fairtrade, Guantanamo Bay, The Taliban & America. Has Global warming got something to do with Stephen Fry? The only thing I know about European law is that it meant Naomi Campbell sued the Mirror for printing pictures of her leaving rehab. America. Blank. But let’s make this clear – I am not stupid.
As a journalist, you’re meant to know everything about everything right? You should be able to write news stories as well as in depth comment pieces about the latest financial crisis or government policy document – completely off the top of your head. Wrong. While it’s important to keep up to date with current affairs you don’t need to be an expert on everything. There are, however, many experts out there who do know a lot about everything you could possibly want to know about. Sociologists, psychologists, university researchers, lawyers, doctors, teachers, the list goes on.
Unsure if something’s legal? Put a tweet out asking for legal experts to get in touch. Got an idea about a particular issue but don’t feel you have the know-all to turn it into an article? Ring a specialist at a university or speak to a researcher in that area. Academics have spent years studying their chosen field and are dying to talk about it. Pick up the phone and give someone a ring, ask if they have the time to answer a few questions. I have yet to come across someone who isn’t happy to give me advice.
You don’t have to know everything about everything; you just have to know how to find the people that do.