How to Become a Journalist – Journalism Degrees & Careers

The fact on which the majority of the readers might agree is that many people among the ones they know, or maybe even themselves, have at least once dreamed of or even seriously considered becoming a journalist as their potential future career. Where the root of that phenomenon might lie and where is it to be sought by all the ones interested in the process of picking one’s career? There is a huge variety of answers to that question. One of them might be the fact that people tend to have a desire or a passion, to gather and be up to date with a broad range of information that is piling over our heads, especially in the recent few years and due to the new technologies and the technology development in general.

Journalism – an Admirable Vocation

Therefore, if all the reasons listed in the paragraph above did not manage to persuade you in the fact that journalism might be one of the most popular job positions and one of the most desirable and admirable careers, the aim of this article may be to try to talk you into changing your opinion towards journalism and appreciate it more. That will be done through bringing up interesting facts about the profession and also creating a guide on how to start up and develop an utterly successful career as a journalist. On the other hand, let us not forget the ones who see the vocation this article is about as one of the most challenging, compelling, interesting and fruitful among all the ones out there, even regardless of all the facts that were listed in the paragraph above. If some of these people have ever considered taking up journalism as their true profession, this article will help them set up their business, develop a successful career, and enjoy their work, of course.

Journalism – Versatile Vocation

It is a mistake to think journalists only pop up at the places where interesting events are taking place or that they only do interviews of famous people, just to be given a chance to at least take a peek into the glamorous life that celebrities lead. Such statements should be nothing but false since they are founded on implausible arguments that can easily be disproved by bringing up some grounded facts and compelling evidence on how versatile journalism is.

To sum up, journalists in can:

  • make interviews
  • gather the information
  • write articles, reports, columns and news.
  • work on the television/the radio

What Do the Journalists in the Press Do?

The first difference is between the journalists who work for the press, in other words, those who write articles or the other types of textual content for various magazines. When it comes to such people, it is crucial to mention that they are not only expected to be witty, exceptionally informed and to be creative writers, but also to be quite communicative, to know how to approach people in order to get the information they need. In addition to all of that, the journalists who write for newspapers are also supposed to develop a great collaboration with photographers, since an article would appear totally unattractive and dull if it were not accompanied by any photos. The contemporary world somehow depends on the pictures, images and visual material and content in general. We live in a culture in which everything tends to be speeding up, our lives as well as the flow of the information we are floated with each day. Therefore, journalists might have the most complex task of staying up to date with all that content, bringing it up to the audience and the readers, and also collaborating with the suitable photographers whose photos will breathe life and fresh energy into their articles and text content. Since articles were mentioned a few times, it would be good to stress that they are not the only type and form of textual content that journalists write.

What Do the Journalist on the Television Do?

Although the previous paragraph was mostly focused on the journalists who write various types of textual content, this article by no means tends to neglect or exclude the journalists who work for the television and their contribution to journalism as a vocation. Those who work for the television, or those who used to work on the radio in previous times, which now seems to be quite outdated, are a crucial part of the profession itself. At the beginning, it is important to stress that communication skills are crucial for ones who work on television. As a phenomenon known as writer’s block may occur to the journalists who write for newspapers, the ones who work on the television may almost never let themselves get tongue-tied, especially when they need to go live. That is what makes the journalism on television even more stressful than the one resorted to writing for newspapers or magazines. The journalists who work on television should develop their communication skills up to a level much higher than it is expected for their colleagues who work as writers.

Extreme working conditions

The other explanation of the phenomenon of why numerous people imagine themselves as journalists and see journalism as their dream career might lie in the fact that this profession often tends to be referred to as a profession that is extremely related to adventure, challenges, or even excitement. One cannot disprove such a statement because such a statement may be grounded by the fact that journalists are actually the ones who are expected to be present at the very spot of an important event, and usually when the situation is heating up and reaching its climax. A great number of journalists throughout the history were sent to the very theatres of war, where they worked side by side with the soldiers, sharing and bearing their brunt as well, giving reports and news about the events from the most dangerous places and venues one can only imagine. Even many household names of modern literature have faced such a destiny of a war theatre journalist, such as famous and world renowned writer and journalist from the twentieth century, George Orwell, the author of a compelling and disturbing novel called ‘’1984”.

Work Environment

In order not to be repetitive, this part will be slightly shorter, since some facts about possible working environments of journalists have already been mentioned above. The most extreme examples would be the ones of the journalists who appear as reporters at the venues where war is outraging. A slightly less extreme example of possible work environments would be bringing up the news from the venues where various citizen riots or protests take place. Working in such environments appears risky and unsettling. Therefore, journalists need to be prepared for any unexpected circumstances and to know how to maintain their mental balance. Nonetheless, it is well known that not all of us are capable of taking up such risks and facing such dangerous situations in order to basically do our job. Therefore, many journalists who might be less adventurous but equally passionate about their job, resort to working in an office together with their colleagues or even take their work home. Taking their work home is mostly popular among the freelance journalists, who are definitely numerous since freelancing, in general, is gaining popularity. Working in an office and being surrounded by their colleagues is beneficial for journalists since they are supposed to cooperate among themselves as well as with photographers.

How to Become a Journalist

As it has been previously said, journalism is by no means a piece of cake, but a complex working position with a whole load of requirements. Therefore, simply being passionate about this vocation and imagining yourself casually walking around in a trench coat with a cigarette in the corner of your lips and a questioning look while you are in search of the answers to your questions will not be enough to become a real journalist. To obtain a successful career in this profession, first of all, one needs to be quite skillful, well informed about various facts and to always be up to date with the upcoming events and current movements in their local community as well as in their country and the world as a whole.

  • First Tip – Hone Your Skills!

Sometimes, especially if a person has just set out to start their career as a journalist, they will be supposed to appear as a jack-of-all-trades. A similar situation may occur to the ones who work as professional interpreters – they will be expected to be informed about the fields they by no means have experience in, to be familiar with the terminology of such areas of human knowledge and to be able to translate such terms. The same situation might occur to journalists, especially the young ones – they will be asked to write or talk about the topics they are not quite familiar with, the topics that exceed their field of expertise. Therefore, a successful journalist should always be eager to broaden his or her knowledge and get the information from various areas.

  • Get Well-Educated

Nevertheless, being eager to hone your skills and broaden your knowledge would be far from enough if you were headed to a successful career as a journalist. To obtain all the communication and language skills that are required, such as pronunciation, orthography, learning how to interview people etc., one needs to pass a process of serious education that should be followed by practical training afterwards, similar as in most of the professions people engage in.

  • Pick the Right Educational Program

Most of the universities in various states have departments of journalism among the ones to choose from in their curriculum. Journalism is usually related to such universities that are mostly dedicated to human studies or politics. If one has decided to take up journalism as their profession, one might pick up a suitable department at a certain university that has it on its list of departments. Nonetheless, some people decide to resort to journalism despite not having finished a university program or any educational program in that field. Most of them become independent journalists that work for independent newspapers or choose freelancing as the most suitable job option for them.

  • Resort to Informal Education

Regardless of this fact and the possibility to become a journalist even if your did not have much contact with the field, many young people are keen on getting a university diploma, and some of them choose to get theirs in journalism. Thus, the significance of the university programs that enable one to specialize in this field should by no means be underestimated. It is also important to mention that there actually is a slight difference between the journalists who have undergone a university program and those who have not. This is applied especially to the ones who desire to work on the television, since university programs tend to provide them with lectures in pronunciation and public speech, which will be the essential skills in their future career.

  • Consider Postgraduate Studies

If one decides to attend a university and apply for the studies in journalism, one should pick the right university that is suitable as well as affordable for them and get their diploma. After getting a bachelor degree in journalism, there is still a slightly long way to go before becoming a highly educated journalist. Therefore, after having successfully completed ones’ bachelor studies, one should consider applying for the right program of masters in journalism. There is a number of possibilities when it comes to this, and there is a list of recommended programs as well. This article will bring some of them up in order to assist future proficient and highly educated journalists in making the right choice.

Training

Bachelor Studies

The same as it works for other professions, journalists of any type (because there are a few, which will be listed later on in the article) must undergo an educational process and take up a certain program that is suitable for the job position they desire and that will provide them with skills required for that position. If a future journalist wishes to work for the newspapers that are considered the household names, such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, or some magazines related to popular science such as National Geography, such people will need to get a bachelor’s degree in journalism from a university accredited by their state. Since journalism is related to areas of expertise such as philology, literature and politics, those are the profiles of the university departments that a person who desires to become a journalist should apply for.

Practical Work

Besides having broad theoretical knowledge about journalism as a vocation, one should by no means neglect honing one’s practical skills while preparing to start a career in this field. In order to become a successful journalist, all the bachelor students ought to work hard on perfecting their practical skills through working in certain publishing houses or offices, writing for magazines that are not so famous or students’ magazines in order to get the feeling of what it is like to be a journalist and what it takes to build a career in that field. When it comes to the journalists who work on the television, they ought to become self-convinced in order to prevent the obstacles such as getting tongue-tied from happening.

Master Studies

On the other hand, after one has successfully finished one’s bachelor studies and got out of the university with a bachelor’s degree, one has by no means get to the end of the path that leads to a fruitful career in journalism. There is still a long way to go, and the next step on that way should be applying for the right master’s program in journalism. Some suggestions of the best options will be listed in this article. Many of the best world’s masters journalists’ programs are available at the universities in the United States.

Here is the list:

  • The University of Southern California
  • Berkley University
  • The University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • The University of Pennsylvania
  • State University

The list was formed according to the research conducted under the name QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016. Among this admirably wide range of opportunities, all the postgraduate students of journalism could definitely choose the one suitable for them.

Informal Education

Except for taking up a university program in journalism, which is a part of the formal education, one can also resort to attending a particular school in journalism, which is available in London, for example, or one could also decide to take up an online course, which is labeled as informal education.

Certification and Degree

Having conducted a thorough research on journalism as a job opportunity and on whether it is a sound investment of one’s money, strength and hard work or not, it is easy to conclude that the majority of the clients who employ journalists, such as the ones who work for the most famous and renowned publishing and newspaper houses, consider at least a bachelor’s degree as a must when it comes to employing a journalist. A bachelor’s degree is widely considered as the main requirement for journalists on various positions, such as reporters, editors and copy editors as well as new media journalists and photojournalists. Therefore, it is important to stress that if one desires to work for a serious and widely renowned newspaper house, one must pass a university program successfully, or in other words, a program in formal education. On the contrary, if a person perceives journalism as their additional job, simply completing a certain online course in journalism would be sufficient. The same applies to the ones who work as freelance journalists.

If a bachelor’s degree is considered a must when it comes to applying for a job position in a serious and affirmed house, master’s degree would only be a plus in the same case.

Salary

There is a research that has been conducted by the website http://study.com/ on the job outlook for the job position of a journalist. The results present the avaerage annual salary for different types of journalist.

Here is the list:

  • Editors and Copy Editors – $64,910
  • Reporters – $46,650
  • New Media Journalists – $46,560
  • Photojournalists – $40,280.

A remarkable and interesting fact is that, as it appears, editors and copy editors tend to earn way higher salaries than their colleagues do.

Job Outlook

When it comes to ob outlook, one can decide on one’s particular position as a journalist according to one’s preferences, since journalism is a profession that offers a variety of positions. For example, one can decide to become a reporter if one is keen on preparing articles and gathering news for newspapers, magazines, radio or television. If that is not your cup of tea, there are many more opportunities. If you are passionate and well-informed about culture and topical events, you may work as a columnist. If this does not reach your expectations, there is a possibility to work as an editor or a copy editor or you can choose to work as a photojournalist if you wish to combine journalism with photography. Besides, you can also resort to working as a freelancer, for example, on some of the many online platforms or websites.

To sum up, here are the most common working positions for journalists:

  • Reporter
  • Editor/Copy Editor
  • New Media Journalist
  • Columnist
  • Photojournalist

Similar Occupations

It has already been mentioned that there is a range of vocations similar to journalism. The first ones that come to mind are the ones dedicated to language and literature, such as the professions of a writer, interpreter or a translator. Besides, journalism is extremely connected to photography. Therefore, journalists should grasp every chance to cooperate with the ones who work in the fields listed, as that would be beneficial for both sides.

1 thought on “How to Become a Journalist – Journalism Degrees & Careers”

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