How to become a journalist
What is a journalist?
Journalists are professionals who research and write about topics which appeal to a wide-range of audiences. Accordingly, their job is multi-faceted and rich with diversity. Thus, anyone seeking to excel must be able to gather and discern factual information, and subsequently transform this into engaging written words.
The road to success begins with an education in English, writing, and communications, and requires a journalism degree whenever possible. Depending upon the type of journalistic career niche a person seeks, training in persuasive communication or statistical analysis may also be appropriate.
What skills and qualifications do I need?
- Learn the basics of journalism
- Learn methods, techniques and formal concepts
- Build strong portfolio and industry connections
- Additional resources for journalists
- Earn your bachelors degree
- Develop writing skills
- Establish connection with reporters and editors
- Intern with a newspaper, magazine or media company
- Work experience
- Full time jobs from other companies
- Relevant qualifications or experience
- University degree (Having said that most BBC journalists are graduates, which suggests a degree gives you a definite advantage. And of course a degree is evidence of intellectual discipline.
- If you want to specialise in a specific area, for instance, economics or politics, then a degree in that subject may be essential.
What personal qualities do I need?
- Energy, enthusiasm, flair, imagination and passion will get you off to a good start.
- Likewise, analytical skills, intellectual curiosity and a reluctance to accept things at face value are essential.
- Moreover, you need to be literate and numerate, to be able to swiftly read into and absorb issues and arguments.
Becoming a broadcast journalist
- Broadcast journalists research and report the news across broadcast channels, such as TV, radio and online. You may be working behind the scenes as a researcher or producer – finding out background details about a story or interviewing people. On the other hand, you may be in front of the camera or on radio as a reporter or presenter.
- You’ll need to work to tight deadlines, reporting breaking and unfolding news as well as investigating your own stories. You may be working indoors or out in the field. You’ll need to be able to use recording equipment, such as microphones and cameras, as well as being able to edit material. It’s a highly competitive job, for which you’ll need excellent English, communication and IT skills.
The purpose and basic aim of a journalist is to keep public up to date with news and events that will affect them. So, a journalist writes on timely events.
- Impartiality – get all sides and let reader decide
- Timeliness – Journalism is about the now. Anything historic has to relate to a story that is now
- Facts – check and recheck facts. Double check names and spelling.
Your job is to reveal information to the public. Find the truth. Get quotes and don’t attribute any of your own knowledge.
Building trust as a journalist
Journalists are taught to be both truthful and accurate in their reporting. Hence, journalism is nothing without trust. It is the foundation upon which the profession is built.
In the words of tycoon and philanthropist, Warren Buffett, “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”
And finally, my page on Trust will show you some of the pitfalls.