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What is Journalism?
Journalism is the area of study and employment that deals with the capture and reporting of news through a variety of means for the purposes of dissemination and education. Individuals in this field will have a variety of options open to them, particularly in the type of journalism one will engage in as a career. Individuals may choose print, internet, video, television or other mediums in order to identify newsworthy stories and to present them to the masses.
What Does a Journalist Do?
At its most basic, a journalist is a professional is to capture news through research, exploration, and documentation and present that information in an honest and unbiased manner. Despite the rapid advances in technology and social media, the core job of a journalist remains the same. The requirement to decipher fact from fiction and create well-written, unbiased news articles remains a constant amidst the digital revolution which is true for print media, online publications, radio, video, or TV news outlets alike.
Job Description of a Journalist
Depending on the job function and industry you specialize in, the job description of a journalist may vary. However, there are core elements that will likely remain from industry to industry as the basics of journalism remains constant. A cross-section of duties required of a journalist includes:
- Networking and building a reliable cohort of contacts
- Collecting information and interviewing people
- Writing copy for publication
- Checking the facts of an article or publication
- Ability to quickly synthesize information and work under tight deadlines
- Follow current events and relevant trends
- Propose ideas of management, producers, and editors
- Keen attention to detail
- Work well independently and as part of a team
- Maintain an irregular schedule as stories are not always schedule driven
- Proficient with computers, photography, video, and audio technology
Top 10 Jobs Within Journalism
Journalism has evolved immensely in the last three decades and will continue to do so into the future. As news media outlets change to meet the changing technological advances as well as consumer appetite for news, so will journalism. As such, we will surely see the jobs within the field of journalism expand and broaden as time passes. A list of common job functions within journalism include:
- Investigative Journalism – The field of investigative journalism is the discipline of digging deep into a story and deftly telling the hidden truths within a story. Investigative journalism has been the cornerstone of reporting to uphold a true, just democracy - telling stories to incite change, expose wrong-doers, and invoke emotion.
- Broadcast Journalism – Broadcast journalism is an area of study which media, news, and information is published electronically. Examples of broadcast journalism include social media, blogs, internet, text, podcasts, email, and TV.
- Visual Communications – As a relatively new occupation, visual communications utilize visual media to communication information or convey ideas to an audience. Visual communications majors will learn how to integrate pictures, infographics, digital images, and videos into TV, digital media, videos, billboards, webcasts, and other news outlets.
- Sports Journalism - Sports Communication and Sports Journalism are professional media members covering a variety of sports across the globe. From writing and interviewing to commentating and producing, a sports journalism covers all aspects of the sports we love and enjoy.
- Photojournalism – The specialization of Photojournalism uses photos to tell a story, enrich media, convey an emotion, and transmit information. Photojournalists can work domestically or internationally and can be employed by large media outlets or self-employed as a freelancer.
- Social Media – As a relatively new job within journalism, Social Media utilizes the power of platforms to broadcast news quickly that, in turn, can be shared or appended. From a weekend blogger to content managers with the Wall Street Journal, social media is a driving force of how we provide and receive news throughout our day.
- Communications – How we interact, online and offline, requires we correctly harness communication. In the world of journalism, Digital Communications and Multimedia provides a means to blend art with business with technology to create content for commercial concerns. Whether you are creating a magazine cover for a Fortune 500 company or a poster for a non-profit organization, the discipline of digital communications is at work.
- Public Relations – The field of Public Relations is a desirable, highly sought-after vocation that engages with companies to help shape public perception and increase brand awareness. Public relations specialist are paid well above average and look to add nearly 15,000 professionals to the field in the next six years.
- Technical Writers – A technical writer is a highly technical, detail oriented individual with the knack to make complex texts accessible to the general public. Technical Writing can span from software manuals to engineering specifications and healthcare to drug trials in every corner of the globe.
- Freelance Writers – A career in journalism can mean working for a large publication house or writing a series of books on your own. In either case, you could work as a freelance writer as your own boss and work on a contract basis producing content or copywriting for an array of organizations. Many freelancers, or stringers, will specialize in news, sports, politics, technology, or the like instead of being a generalist.
Individuals may begin their education at the associate degree level through private or community colleges, though typically a bachelor's degree is required at minimum to be considered for employment. Individuals will study a variety of topics, including the ethics of journalism and how it may affect a given story. Individuals with English or communication degrees may also be able to seek employment in the field. Higher levels of the degree often explore research methodology and provide individuals with the opportunity to teach journalism in schools or higher education institutions.
A curriculum in journalism may include:
- Journalism in the Field
- Mass Communication and Media
- Research Methodology
Additional Resources for Journalism Students
- American Journalism Review
- Washington Independent Writers
- American Society of Magazine Editors
- Society of Professional Journalists
- Investigative Reporters and Editors
- National Society of Newspaper Columnists
- Organization of News Ombudsmen
- The Association of Young Journalists
- Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
- Online News Association
- American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors
- Society of News Design
- The Poynter Institute for Media Studies
- American Society of Journalists and Authors
- National Conference of Editorial Writers
- American Copy Editors Society
- National Press Photographers Association
- Digital Journalist
- International Center for Journalists
- International Federation of Journalists
- National Writers Union
- Association of Alternative Weeklies
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Employment Opportunities and Job Growth
Journalism in its various forms will allow individuals to seek employment through multiple avenues, including newspapers, television station, online magazines and more. Individuals in this field will tend to have many skills associated with content and media creation, which is quickly becoming required of the field, particularly constructing online components for articles or reports that are interactive. The field of journalism is expected to both expand and contract based on the type of employment being pursued, with more traditional news outlets such as newspapers and broadcasts seeing a decline due to viewership and readership moving to online venues for faster access to news. As a result online sources, such as blogs, magazines, news hubs and podcasts are seeing increases in opportunity though they are not yet as lucrative as their traditional counterparts.
Salary and Related Fields
Salary for journalists is based on the specialization chosen, with the highest average pay being given to broadcast journalists at around $54,000 annually. The overall average for all journalists is approximately $38,870 annually, with experience and education paying a large part in initial salary. Larger markets also tend to have higher pay rates than smaller ones.
Top Paying States for Journalists
- District of Columbia $86,270
- New York $72,150
- Georgia $65,370
- Maryland $65,010
- Alaska $62,650
States Employing the Most Journalists
- New York 4,050
- California 3,490
- District of Columbia 2,390
- Florida 2,270
- Texas 1,890