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How To Become A Journalist

Being a journalist is a profession that can be very exciting yet multifaceted. There will be a focus on collecting information, investigating and interviewing, analysing the data that has been carefully put together and presenting the news, articles or stories through various media outlets which can include newspapers, magazines, television, radio and online platforms.
Written by
Joanna Clare
Content Manager
Published on
April 30, 2024

Being a journalist is a profession that can be very exciting yet multifaceted. There will be a focus on collecting information, investigating and interviewing, analysing the data that has been carefully put together and  presenting the news, articles or stories through various media outlets which can include newspapers, magazines, television, radio and online platforms.

A journalist is responsible for researching and then verifying this information before then making and finalising their report on events, trends, issues and current stories of interest. A journalist must work with accuracy, remain impartial and have integrity. They will often adhere to specific ethical standards and principles such as showing fairness to everyone involved, remaining objective, transparent and honest  and of course, being accountable for their work.

To get into this line of work you must possess certain skills such as being able to communicate clearly and effectively both verbally and written. You must be able to accept constructive criticism and be prepared to be put in long and unsociable hours at times. You will need to have the perseverance to work under pressure but remain fully focused at all times while often thinking on your feet and adhering to deadlines.

Having an excellent grasp and a love of the English language and grammar is of paramount importance and many prospective journalists will choose to undertake a variety of college or university courses in subjects which may include media law or media studies, English language and literature. There will invariably be a love of both reading different genres and of writing. There are numerous, specific courses designed which are  recognised by employers in this industry. Depending if you have decided which area of journalism you wish to pursue, there are also courses that will offer specialised courses, for example, investigative journalism, fashion, lifestyle, sports journalism or broadcasting. Often courses will incorporate hands-on experience in newsrooms, studios or various online media outlets so as to gain the invaluable practical knowledge that is so essential for aspiring journalists and allows you to make contacts within the industry.

Many roles will have differing criteria when applying for a job. Some will offer training as you learn the job from scratch and supported by experienced mentors while others may demand a degree which has already given you a solid foundation. Therefore it is advisable to thoroughly research exactly what is currently on offer for you so you can progress and succeed in the type of journalism that you are interested in.

Additionally, you must be able to use various software packages and have a sound knowledge of using computers. You will be accessing huge amounts of information through databases and archives as well as editing, amending, proofreading and formatting your work as well as connecting with countless others as you promote your work. Multimedia content such as videos, interactive graphics and audio use certain enhanced software for creating engaging and unique content.  It enables you to be competent in research, communication, writing, analysing and publishing - all of which enhances the quality and impact of your work.

Your tasks will vary from investigating and researching both people and stories, contacting various leads, attending meetings, writing reports and you will find yourself sometimes working autonomously and other times closely with other professionals. Each day will be different to the next.

There is excellent scope for progression as you gain experience within your role and from junior reporter you may find yourself becoming editor of a magazine or newspaper one day. Many journalists decide to work freelance which gives them more flexibility in their job.

Journalism is an extremely fulfilling career with opportunities to inform and inspire society while utilising your natural flair for creativity and storytelling tellingSalaries vary and depend on factors such as location, experience, the type of media organisation and although entry level journalists may start on a modest salary, this increases as you gain necessary experience, expertise and skills.

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