I've been working as a journalist for about five years, but what I've learned on the job is nothing compared to the reams of useful information you can glean from Hollywood.
Films like The Devil Wears Prada and Confessions of a Shopaholic are SO true to life I thought they were documentaries when I first saw them. I only twigged when I saw Meryl Streep, and even then I thought "Ooh, when did Meryl Streep become a magazine editor?"
And so I bring you the latest in my series of Practical Chick's Guides - the PCG to being a woman journalist, based on what I've learned from the movies.
1. Dress the part
Aspiring female journalists should always dress in the latest couture from all the top designers. If you don't, other journalists won't respect you. Make sure it is tight, short and sexy and ALWAYS wear stilettos - otherwise you will never be taken seriously. What do you mean you can't afford designer clothing? YOU'RE A REPORTER. Everyone knows they earn STACKS.
Looks on other journalists' faces when they do the mental arithmetic on your outfit = priceless.
If you're too busy working on your big scoop to go shopping don't worry - all fashion magazines have a giant wardrobe full of designer clothes that the fashion director will be more than happy to let you take home and wear. Even though they are sample sizes they will ALL fit you - even though everyone keeps saying how fat you are.
If you're not lucky enough to work for a fashion mag and are stuck say, working for a finance journal - never fear. There will always be a fashion magazine across the hallway with an editor who will happily take you out shopping and act as your personal stylist to get you sorted out.
"Yes, I am zee editor of ze world's biggest fashion magazine, but I have more zan enough time to help a cadet finance reporter go shopping. Now, try zis on."
2. Don't exert yourself
You only need to write one story every few months in order to impress your boss. Don't worry - there are heaps of other reporters around the office who will be happy to pick up the slack. And because journalism is such a laidback industry that doesn't revolve around deadlines, you'll have heaps of time to research it while also attending parties, meeting interesting people and expanding your wardrobe.
3. Reporting is like, easy!
If you get assigned to write a story on a topic you know nothing about, don't stress! Just hit the library with your best girl friend, borrow a few Idiot's Guide books and stay up all night studying them. And don't forget to Google! You'll soon become an expert, and will be ready to grill any politician/celebrity/big wig like a pro. You'll also most likely end up writing an award-winning article that boosts your ailing publication's circulation in an unprecedented way, thereby securing your future as a top notch journalist and saving the company from financial ruin. Way to go!
4. Male editors are both helpful and sexy
If you can't come up with any story ideas, don't worry - your young, good looking, male editor will give you one. And don't worry if you don't know how to write - he'll help you with that too. He'll also take you out to events and help you network and make contacts, and talk you through any tricky press conferences you're too inexperienced to handle on your own. Even though he's just hired you impetuously off the basis of your hotshot CV (which you impishly concocted minutes before the job interview) he won't be angry about any of this - he'll find your naivety charming, and will eventually fall in love with you.
"Now ask them this hard-hitting question I've just written for you. Go on. It's fine, Laurie Oakes does this all the time."
And despite you being a clueless ditz who flirts with the editor, only writes 500 words a month and gets all the praise, all the other journalists will love you - because you are pretty and charming.
5. Female editors are nasty bitches
Just like all male editors are young, handsome and flirtatious, all female editors are arrogant, rude, standoffish and eccentric, AND THEY HATE YOU AND EVERYTHING YOU STAND FOR. Unless you turn up one day wearing Chanel and perform an impossible task for them, like balancing a cup of Starbucks on your nose while singing the national anthem and organising Tom Cruise to read the latest instalment of Harry Potter to their children. Then they will treat your marginally better.
6. Never take your job for granted, no matter how shitty it is
Always remember - nothing is more important than your job. NOTHING. You are a WOMAN who works in the MEDIA. Do you even REALISE how many girls would KILL to be in your position? DON'T TAKE IT FOR GRANTED. Your job is more important than your BOYFRIEND, it's more important than ANY OF YOUR FAMILY, and it's certainly more important than your HEALTH. All of this is multiplied by 500 if you work for a fashion magazine.
7. Blog your way to success
If you are still trying to land a job as a journalist - start writing a blog. You will become instantly successful and be offered movie deals and career opportunities within 12 months.