As the Internet and social media take the world by storm, the field of journalism continues to evolve. No matter what the format, though, professional, skilled journalists are needed to inform the public by telling factual, accurate, objective news stories. Of course, there also is the softer side of journalism: sharing compelling human interest pieces or a peek into pop culture. Journalists work in a variety of media outlets at the local, regional, national or global level, including newspapers, magazines, radio, television, wire services and online media outlets.
Training and Requirements
A bachelor’s degree in journalism or mass communications is generally required for entry-level careers. In college, journalists generally receive a well-rounded education that will prepare them for a variety of positions, including training in media ethics, writing, grammar, editing, public speaking, audio and video production, directing and other technical aspects of running a radio or television broadcast. Sometimes colleges offer more specialized programs and degrees where the student can focus on one aspect of the field. With media consolidations and cutbacks, such as in the early 2000s, diversifying skills is crucial.
When you think of journalism, the first thing that comes to mind may be Clark Kent-looking fellow in a fedora and trench coat carrying a steno pad. While reporters today don’t fit that cliché, these journalists are the force behind story-telling in news organizations. Reporters gather research, conduct interviews, and write and edit stories. They can work for newspapers or serve as field reporters for television or radio programs. Reporters can cover breaking news or sometimes work on beats, such as crime, education, business or politics. Sometimes, depending on where she works, a reporter may also produce content for other outlets, such as a website, blog or even a video clip. Reporters can be full-time employees for a news organization, but, especially in newspapers, there is a need for freelance correspondents.
Editors plan, review and revise content for publication, usually in the publishing side of journalism. There are a few types of editors. Copyeditors review reporter-submitted stories, correcting for punctuation, grammar or style; they also fact-check. Assistant editors are usually in charge of a specific section, such as entertainment; they develop story ideas, allocate space and assign stories. Managing editors are in charge of daily newsroom operation.
When it comes to broadcast media, polished announcers are need to be the face and voice of a network or individual program. Anchors read the news and introduce reporters and recorded segments. Often, announcers research and write their own stories. In radio, announcers also often operate the studio equipment. And because of the public nature of a newscaster position, these journalists often make promotional appearances at local events. Anchors are coveted positions in news; often they begin as reporters or correspondents.
- University of Iowa Career Center: What Can I Do with a Major in Journalism and Mass Communication
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Announcers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Writers and Authors
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Reporters, Correspondents and Broadcast News Analysts
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Editors
Since 2000 Donna T. Beerman has contributed to newspapers and magazines. Her expertise includes higher education, marketing and social media, and her presentations and writing have won industry awards. She has an MFA in creative writing, is the integrated marketing manager at a Pennsylvania college and founded "Hippocampus Magazine."