Journalists are communication experts in charge of finding information, summarizing it, and writing it in a way that can be easily understood by specific audiences or by the general public. They are most commonly employed by printed and digital media outlets (e.g. newspapers, magazines, and their online versions) or by the broadcast media (e.g. television and radio stations). They may also be self-employed by selling their stories and articles to any publishing media.
A great part of a Journalist’s job consists on collecting information. In this regard, Journalists conduct research, perform interviews, analyze opinions and impressions uttered by people with the aim of reporting and publishing what was gathered in an opportune, effective and attractive manner. Journalists seek to engage their audience of their field of interest (e.g. entertainment, economy, or politics).
More and more Journalists are now in charge of other related journalistic tasks that used to be assigned to other professionals in the field. For example, it is not uncommon for Journalists to take care of the visual aspect of their story, meaning that taking or acquiring pictures now also falls under their responsibility.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Journalists are required to complete.
- Conducting research on any given topic, its historical and cultural aspect, or any other relevant detail that could serve the story’s purpose.
- Attending press conferences and media events in order to get interviews and important information regarding specific news.
- Gathering testimonies from the general public during political, cultural, or any other given events.
- Studying and analyzing topics of current interest to prepare editorials and commentaries, or conveying the opinion on the ones released in a publication or by a broadcasting station, with the aim of attracting the audience:
- Being aware of what’s going on in their community, their country, and around the world, so as to report any relevant activity and update.
- Sourcing, shooting, writing, interviewing, and presenting information to audiences:
- Generating fresh and interesting story ideas;
- choosing from a variety of writing formats (e.g. columns, stories, or reviews) or audiovisual formats (e.g. live coverage or edited footage) to best suit each story;
- sourcing and selecting eye-catching visuals to help tell the article or story, shooting and/or editing photographs when required;
- editing both digital and printed content for spelling and style; and
- ensuring the accuracy and the authenticity of the content to be published by following all applicable journalistic standards and practices.
- Posting content to websites and social media site when required:
- Editing or creating high-quality web content including, but not limited to, text, video, and interactive digital journalism, taking search engine optimization (SEO) guidelines into consideration.
- Conducting research and drafting copies.
- Writing interesting and engaging news stories and features to a weekly deadline and providing accompanying artwork when required.
- Proofreading and editing content.
- Posting content to websites and social media sites.
- Complying with the applicable journalistic standards and practices.
The average Journalist salary is $35,799 per year or $18 per hour. This is the same as the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $25,000 while most experienced workers make up to $50,000. These results are based on 12 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Strong editorial judgment:
- Having proven news judgement and an excellent work ethic.
- In-depth knowledge of news and current affairs.
- Outstanding creativity, insight, and a positive, go-to attitude:
- Being able to write interesting and engaging pieces for specific audiences or for the general public; and
- being a creative thinker and having an innovative vision in order to produce unique and original pieces.
- Impeccable interpersonal, communication, and synthesizing skills:
- Communicating clearly, especially in writing, in order to convey news effectively and to catch the public’s interest;
- being able to simplify complex content in order to make it understandable for the general public; and
- possessing strong interviewing skills.
- Excellent computer and social media management skills:
- Being proficient in word-processing programs and editing tools; and
- being able to manage the basic social media platforms.
- Great attention to detail and high levels of thoroughness:
- Having outstanding writing and proofreading skills so as to accurately and efficiently review creative documents.
- Strong organizational and time management skills:
- Being capable of managing multiple projects and prioritizing tasks effectively;
- being able to work independently and as part of a team in a dynamic, fast-paced environment;
- being able to make quick decisions, especially when doing live broadcasts; and
- being versatile, flexible, and willing to work under pressure on tight deadlines.
- Motivated, independent, result-oriented, professional, resourceful, and energetic with a strong desire to take initiative.
Aside from the aforementioned skills, Journalists are required to have a bachelor’s degree in Journalism or in a related field, such as Communications, as well as at least 3 years of experience in the area or working in a newsroom. The perfect candidate must also possess demonstrated writing abilities (e.g. having their own blogs, having worked for a magazine or newspaper) and these skills should be demonstrated in a portfolio containing their best work. Journalists not only need to possess an excellent and updated knowledge of news and current affairs from a variety of sources, but they also need to have an extensive general knowledge.
Many Journalists start out their careers by taking on the role of Writers for publication companies and agencies and then working their way up by displaying high levels of professionalism, dedication, and competency. .
Journalists must be willing to work flexible, irregular hours, depending on the assignment they are given. Some employers require the candidate to have a valid driver’s licence in order to cover any possible news.