Becoming a Journalist

26 Feb 2014 22:04 | Armelle Loghmanian

 Becoming a Journalist 

Interview by Alessandra Zocca

Hanna McLean

Freelance Journalist for Maastricht University Magazine

Former Community Manager at the EJC Online Journalism Community

Hanna, being myself a member of the EJC Online Journalism Community (1), it’s a real pleasure to interview you regarding your former role of Community Manager.
Would you illustrate to our readership the concept of this community?

The idea behind the European Journalism Centre’s (EJC) Community establishment was that it would be a place for all kinds of journalists from around the world to come together, network with each other and share information. Over the years the community has grown from a small community for journalists to a bigger one that also includes media professionals from other sectors such as PR and marketing, radio, television, etc.

What did you specifically like about your former role as Community Manager at the EJC Online Journalism Community? What was your main aim?

I enjoyed being a community/social media manager because it gives you a chance to connect with other people who you may not have connected with in other circumstances. The job allowed me to find out what makes different people tick - what they are interested in. The fact that our community members come from all over the world made the job all the more exciting because it allowed me to see things through a variety of different perspectives and cultural viewpoints.

When I started working with the EJC Community my main aim was initially to form deeper connections with the current members and to help facilitate interesting conversations among the various groups that had been formed. As time went by, though, I realized that the members wanted something more, so I sent around a survey asking for specific changes that everyone wanted to see. I discovered that many members wanted to see more job listings, educational material/tutorials, and networking opportunities. With these three things in mind, my colleagues and I decided to revamp the community altogether and create a newer, simplified platform. This however, was still a work in progress and has not been completed yet. We hope to have the new community launched sometimes in the near future. For now, we have created our JournaJobs platform ( ), which is an international job listing website, built for the professional journalist, which provides daily job listings from around the world.

What have you learned from the community members? What impresses you most about the spirit of the members?

The community members have taught me many things, but most of all I have learned there are countless different ways to look at things. The world is a big place and where you grew up and the culture that you are accustomed to, plays a huge role in how you approach different situations. Talking to people from Afghanistan, Poland, the Netherlands, Pakistan, and more has given me the chance to explore the world through the convenience of social media. It’s an amazing thing because several years ago, this would not have been possible.

What impresses me most about the spirit of the community members is their enthusiasm and curiosity. They are constantly reaching out to one another in order to learn about new developments in media/journalism, or to just chat about what life is like in their home countries. Their drive to learn from and help each other was something that really stood out to me and left an impression.

The EJC Online Journalism Community is part of the European Journalism Centre (EJC): what is it about and what are the main activities?

The EJC is a non-profit independent, international foundation that is dedicated to the highest standards in journalism. We provide training to both journalists and media professionals alike. Some of our main goals include:
  • Promoting high quality journalism through professional training, particularly through a European context,
  • Providing a forum for discussion debate, and exchanges of views and experience for journalists, editors, media executives and other media professionals,
  • Supporting high standards of journalism in developing countries through training and networking,
  • Promoting ongoing journalistic capacity building that answers the needs of media professionals and the media industry.

What percentage of the Community members are women? What is the situation for women in the journalism arena? Are there fewer women journalists? Are women simply not interested in journalism or are there real barriers to their career? Are women less “opinionated”? Why?

I am not sure of the exact percentage of women that the community currently has, but I think the overall ratio of men to women is pretty even. At the moment I think the situation for women in the arena of journalism is an exciting, but also a challenging one because of everything that is going on in the world today.

I cannot say whether or not there are fewer women journalists in the field, but I think it is a bit more of a challenge for women journalists sometimes, especially for those who are reporting from warzones and other regions in crisis because these areas can sometimes be seen as ‘no place for a woman’. I don’t think that women journalists are any less interested in topics or that they are less opinionated than men, it’s quite the opposite actually, but I do think that women journalists have to fight a bit harder to get the story that they want.

What actions has the European Journalism Centre (EJC) put in place to promote female journalists?

In order to help promote journalists in general and female journalists the EJC has pioneered several projects including:
  • Data Driven Journalism project (2), which is one of the leading initiatives for training, resources and networking in the area of data journalism,
  • Emergency Journalism (3), which brings together relevant news and resources for media professionals reporting in volatile situations,
  • Journalism Grants (4), which is a grant program that aims to advance creative reporting approaches, thus enabling a better coverage of international development issues.
  • The EJC Community also has a ‘Women in Media’ group that looks at the role women play in the media (5).

Hanna, you are also an independent journalist for a university magazine. What inspired you to follow this profession? What do you like about writing? When did you realise you wanted to be a journalist? Are you following in the footsteps of any family members?

Since I was a little girl I have always known that I wanted to be a writer. Whether that was writing a novel or becoming a journalist, it didn’t matter to me so long as I could put my passion to use. I am the first of my family members to actually pursue writing as a career and have found that I am able to communicate much more eloquently through the written word. I love how you can convey a message in so many different ways just by changing the order of the words or by playing with synonyms and adjectives.
Writing allows me to speak in a way that talking out loud doesn’t. Staring a blank Word document is both the most electrifying and the most frightening thing for me. The words can take me anywhere and it’s always exhilarating to see where I end up.

What is your professional dream for your future?

My professional dream for the future is to write and publish a novel. I am currently playing with some ideas for a piece of fiction for young adults that I have in mind. However I haven’t gotten the courage up yet to actually start: it’s one of my new year’s resolutions for 2014 actually – to just sit down, stop thinking, and write.

If you could interview anyone in the world right now, who would you choose and why?

If I could interview anyone in the world, right now I would have to choose news/photo journalist Ann Curry (6) because she is such an inspiration to me. Her stories are always so diverse and her ability to connect with people that she just met on such a deep level astounds me.
She is truly an example of a successful, strong, woman journalist who knows what she is doing and who isn’t afraid to go out and get what she wants regardless of what others think of her. I hope to someday be as brave and as successful as she is.

Short Biography

Hanna McLean works as a freelance journalist for Maastricht University Magazine.
She also worked as the social media manager/community manager for the European Journalism Centre from 2011 – 2013.

Contact Details
Hanna McLean
Freelance Journalist for Maastricht University Magazine



(1) EJC Online Journalism Community

(2) Online data journalism course

(3) Emergency Journalism

(4) Grants for Innovations in Development Reporting

(5) Review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for
Action in the EU Member States: Women and the Media undefined
Advancing gender equality in decision-making In media organisations

(6) Ann Curry 

Disclaimer -     
Any views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of EJC, nor do they constitute a legally binding agreement.
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