Do you have the passion and interest of breaking a big story out to the public? Do you have an enthusiasm to write and create a report about anything that’s happening around you, may it be a gossip, crime or scandals? Then if you have the gut feeling of becoming a journalist, this career might just be right for you.
Journalism is the backbone of the media industry. It imparts important information like news, current events, issues, trends, people and interviews that are conveyed to the target audience through articles, broadcasts and other forms of media presentation.
In order to become a journalist, you must have the right qualities and skills needed for you to fit for the job. Nobody was born already possessing such qualities and skills, but everything can be learned. You just have to keep in mind these following steps that might help you begin your journey towards a journalism career.
How to become a journalist
- Assess Your Skills
Being a journalist is undoubtedly a rewarding job. But to become a successful one, you must have the skills and qualities a journalist should possess.
1. You must be precise
Journalists are expected to provide information to the public about anything they might want to know. In order to maintain a good reputation in the industry, the information you disclose should be accurate. You must also provide the public an unbiased attitude where you will need to provide them facts rather than opinions.
2. Observe and respect confidentiality.
You must apply standard work ethics at all time. You must have the ability to confirm and verify facts. Throughout your career, you may have “sources” that provides you relevant information about the report you are writing. You must maintain their confidentiality and secure their safety especially when disclosing that information would put them in harm.
3. Excellent writing and communication skills.
You are also expected to write and talk. Having good writing skills is a basic quality journalists should have; possessing this quality will help you to write an excellent news report. A good communication skill would help you to interact and establish a healthy working relationship with your co-workers, relate to a variety of people and be able to communicate with individuals who can provide you relevant information useful for the report you are writing.
4. Willing to work with a rough work schedule.
There are times that you will need to work longer hours and even during night or weekends. You must be willing to dedicate a huge amount of your time to your work because unlike any other profession, a journalist doesn’t have a fixed schedule of work.
5. Can work under pressure.
Being a journalist also involves hectic schedules and short deadlines. You must have good organization skills and adaptability to be able to work even under pressure.
6. Hard working and determined.
You must have determination and hard work. These qualities will enable you to strive hard just to be the best and be on top even through a vast rivalry in the industry.
- Complete a High School Diploma
Similar to most profession, a high school diploma or its equivalent must be completed. Graduate in high school with excellent grades in English. This will give you additional credit when you start working as a journalist.
- Pursue A Bachelor’s Degree
Since the industry of journalism has immense competition, obtaining a degree will be your investment in order to land a good job in the industry.
You can complete a bachelor’s degree in journalism, or a related field such as communications, media studies and English.
- Enroll in an accredited school for journalists. Avoid enrolling to shortcut programs that promises a completion certificate as most of these are not acknowledged by employers.
- Considering a vast competition, it is best to enroll in a journalism school that offers training for their students as a part of the curriculum.
- Be a part of your school newspaper, television or radio program, hone your writing skills and get as much hands-on experience as you can while in school.
Journalism is a broad profession. There are different areas or type of journalism you can choose from. Choose one or two areas where you can concentrate and develop expertise, and where you are passionate about.
- Choose a Beat
A beat is a term used by journalist which means a subject or topic that they cover. This includes local crime, international or national news, sports, politics, scandals, Hollywood stars, weather reports, and many more.
- Choose an Outlet
Choose to work and cover stories for a community, city or national newspaper publication.
Work for a local or national radio stations that conveys “straight reports”, giving an emphasis on concise rather that in-depth reporting.
Write documentaries for a television company or be an anchor on a local, national or international news show.
Work as media company website journalist where you will be posting news online.
Work as a photojournalist where you would make use of still images and footage necessary for making a factual and excellent report.
- Post-Degree Experience
Seek for a 1 to 2-year internship.
- You may start seeking internship in local your radio or television stations, newspapers and magazines that offers internships.
- Check online for media companies’ websites where availability for internship is posted.
- You can talk to your college journalism professor and seek advice in getting a good internship experience. Work for your school newspaper, television or radio program.
- Consider Networking
After obtaining necessary education and experience for you to start your career as a full-time journalist, start networking. This is the best way for you to get hold of a job as a journalist.
1. Send your resume and accomplished works to different media outlet in your own local area or across the country via email. This will provide you an opportunity to be recognized and be referred to someone who can give you a job.
2. Attend to job fairs intended for journalists; there would be a greater chance for you getting hired in big events like this.
3. Attend to seminars, conferences, journalism classes and other programs to hone your skills and meet people in the field.
- Consider Pursuing an Advanced Degree
Working and pursuing an advanced degree in the profession would be the best combination strategy to achieve success. You must consider taking a master’s degree in journalism. The level of education and experience you complete, the higher you will get paid.
Indeed, journalism is an extremely competitive profession to get into. But it is also one of the most rewarding jobs. It may take you a while to land your first job in the industry, considering a competitive work environment. But if becoming a journalist is a passion, you will definitely end up being successful in this career.
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