Journalism is an exciting and fast-paced career option for those who are passionate about storytelling and current events. Journalism is also a great career because it is relatively easy to get started with and if you are interested in this career choice, you might be wondering how to go about it. This article will look at the steps you need to take to become one, as well as what your career will entail once you land a job as a journalist.
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Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree
A bachelor’s degree in journalism is a requirement for the organizations that you will end up working with. While there are general journalism degrees that will get you to where you want to go, you might want to pick a major that introduces you to the fields of journalism you are most interested in. These majors will help you learn about specific types of journalism while also introducing you to the border field of journalism. Some of these majors include English and communication.
The key skills you will learn, and that employees require, include the basics of good reporting, writing, and editing. You will also need to understand basic journalistic ethics to be a successful journalist.
A tip seasoned journalists share is that if you are interested in a specific topic, such as technology or politics, you can take a minor in the area or take a double major. Doing this helps you develop specialized knowledge in a specialized field while also arming you with the journalistic skills you will need to succeed as a journalist.
Develop Your Writing and Editing Skills
Writing and editing skills are key if you want to be a good journalist. You should try to hone your writing and editing skills while earning your degree, although this is something your degree should cover. Writing on a broad set of subjects by starting a general blog, for example, will help you learn how to write for different audiences, develop your tone and voice and help learn how to pitch your stories.
Having a blog, as mentioned, will also help you develop a body of work so you have a portfolio ready when you start looking for work. Creating a blog or personal website is easy using a content management system like WordPress and will help you stand out when you start interviewing.
Intern with a Magazine, Media Company or Newspaper
Interning is such an important step for aspiring journalists because it helps you get a feel of what being a journalist is actually like. It helps you gain exposure and introduces you to the general day-to-day life of a journalist. As an intern, you might not be tasked with being directly in touch with the company’s audience but you will be involved in fact-checking, collaborating, or even contributing to final edits.
The good news is that you can start seeking these internships while in school. With media companies, magazines, and newspapers popping up every day, it should not be too hard to find a few who are looking for interns. These internships can also be the first step to finding work when you finally earn your degree.
Form Professional Relationships
Your internship will give you lots of opportunities to network and form professional relationships. Journalism is one of the fields that require strong personal and professional connections, and you should be adamant about seeking these connections at every opportunity you get.
One of the best ways to form these connections is reaching out to people in the field, such as editors and reporters, and asking them if they have time for a quick chat. If they have time and agree to meet, tell them about yourself and your experience, and ask them if they have any advice that will help you make it as a journalist.
To show that you are a considerate person and to cement these relationships, do not forget to follow up with the people you need to tell them you appreciate their time and the value you derived from the chat or meeting.
Leverage Your Connections
When looking for a job as a journalist, it would be helpful to leverage your connections. These could be connections you have made outside and inside the field. Get in touch with your connections and let them know you are looking for a job.
The endorsements you get from your connections can give you a massive advantage as employers are likely to consider you if other people can vouch for you.
If you can, it would also be a great idea to join a local organization for journalists. These organizations usually have amazing resources for new journalists and can help you land a job. They can also help you with continuing your education and with career advancement down the line.
Get a Job
If you do everything right, it is possible to get a job through your connections. Otherwise, start applying for jobs and ask if your connections can be your references for these jobs. Keep an eye out for new media companies, newspapers, and magazines as they typically have open positions for new journalists.
Advance Your Career
Once you have enough experience, you should consider advancing your career. For the first few years of your career, much of your job will entail reporting, writing, and editing. While these competencies are essential, you need to master the art of digital communication and how to connect with your audience in person if you would like to advance your career. Completing the online masters in journalism program at St Bonaventure University is a great way to earn the skills and competencies you need to take your journalistic career to the next level. The combination of traditional journalism and technology will prepare you for even the busiest newsrooms in the world.
A Day in the Life of a Journalist
If you are interested in becoming a journalist, you are probably wondering what a journalist does on a day-to-day basis. Journalists have a lot of variety in their workdays, but most or all of it involves gathering information, making it understandable, and presenting it to their audiences in an easy-to-understand format.
Following News Trends
Journalism is about knowing what is happening and reporting on it, either live or through other means. This means that a key part of your day and the work you do will be staying on top of all the news that is happening.
Reputable news sources such as Reuters and the Associated press will become a major part of your day, as will social media. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook will help you get a better understanding of what is happening and help you flesh out your understanding of different stories and events.
You might be assigned to follow stories that need to be covered or that an editor or boss needs more details on.
Once you are assigned a story or are interested in one, you will be required to do a deep dive on these stories. When doing the research, you will have to identify reputable and reliable sources, fact check various aspects of these stories, including the people involved, the dates, numbers, and other important details, and do contextual research. Contextual research involves finding related news items that you can use to build your story or that can be referenced once you have a draft of the story you are working on.
Another significant part of your day as a journalist will involve interviews. There are so many types of interviews you can do, and they will depend on the story and the people involved. If you are reporting on an election, you might talk to the candidates or the voters. If the story is about a new film, you might want to talk to an actor, the writer, or even the director to learn more about it.
As a journalist, it is critical to get the right information from the source and then use this information to come up with a cohesive story. By doing this, you will be helping reduce instances of misinformation or guessing.
Writing and Editing
Once you have everything you need, it is time to bring everything together into a cohesive story. You will need to go through everything you have collected to identify the key points that will become a part of your story. You will also need to make sure you add as many details as possible so the story is as complete as can be. Once you have the story written, you might be tasked with going through it one more time to ensure everything is okay.
After that, it is all about the editor, who will review the story and see if it is ready for publication or broadcast.
While journalism can be a very challenging career, it is an exciting one that lets graduates be at the forefront of breaking news, recent happenings, and everything the public learns. Much of the work of a journalist is researching and telling stories, and the challenge of ensuring this story is complete, informative, and interesting to the audience is something journalists love to embrace.