Many people go into professions, thinking that they know what the job requires of them. The job description for Journalists is not one to glance over. There are some responsibilities that people are not aware of that may affect peoples desire to move into this field.
Journalism has been romanticized by the likes of Clark Kent aka Superman and Peter Parker aka Spiderman. It’s not just about writing the story. There are many other factors to take into account before you make the plunge and dedicate yourself to the art of journalism. The Job description of a journalist is a bit more complex.
What is it that journalists do?
Journalists are all about the audience. They write and assemble news stories that capture the interest of the readers. To write a good story, they need to gather the various sources and make sure that all the arguments are represented.
By writing accurate stories, they keep their audiences up to date with the happenings of the world. If news and world events is not your thing, you can always go into sports journalism or local news. The job description of these journalists might be somewhat different.
Specific journalist duties include:
- Interview people in numerous circumstances and of different positions (from politicians to criminals)
- Sorting and categorizing information to compile a copy for publication on a deadline.
- Building relations with contacts to use as sources of information for future stories.
- To fact-check information provided by sources.
- Create blog publications.
- In some instances, traveling is needed to investigate newsworthy events.
What does a typical article process look like?
It might seem odd, but the job description of a journalist starts with watching the news and reading press releases. Then they have to do some digging, either in the field or reading up on other articles that might shed some light on their given assignment.
When going out into the field, it is important for them to establish and maintain contacts and also interview various sources. Once all the information is gathered, they write the article up, edit it and submit a copy.
The copy is then sent through a proofreading process, as well as a fact check process. Once the article is cleared, it gets published.
Are there any catches?
Depending on the type of journalist you want to become, the job description for journalists come with some serious risks. First off, journalists need to stay abreast with privacy, contempt and defamation law. People don’t like being in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.
Journalists often have to enter dangerous situations to get the exclusive. Regardless of the danger, some journalists thrive on the adrenaline rush.
Who employs journalists?
The job description of a journalist differs depending on the type of journalist you wish to become. The type of journalist you become will also have an impact on the environment in which you work. The most common employers include newspapers, magazines, newswires, websites, radio stations, television companies and periodic publishers. In 2017, there were over 183 200 full-time daily newspaper journalists.
You can also become a freelance writer, but to do this successfully, you need a network of contacts that will hire you. This course of action is best when you have already built a reputation for yourself.
How do you become a journalist?
There are both formal and informal routes to become a journalist, although many companies require a university degree. Majoring in any subject is acceptable, but it would be adventitious to major in English or Journalism. Having a field of specialty in economics or science will also help your cause to stand out from the crowd.
There are also jobs that might require a qualification that’s accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ). Relevant work experience is often essential and can be gained by publishing articles, doing freelance work, taking part in writing competitions or doing pro bono work.
The job description for journalists often require them to do a bit of driving, therefore a driver’s license is often required, especially if you are required to do investigative work in the field.
Do you have what it takes?
Journalists are a special breed of people, and there are certain key personality traits and skills that you need to be successful. Apart from the obvious excellent writing skills and oral communication skills, part of the job description of a journalist is to pay attention to details. They need excellent interpersonal skills.
The job often requires long hours and patience. Sometimes, stories take a while to unravel, or needs to be written up before the competition gets the lead. The job is therefore very competitive, and aspiring journalists need that competitive spirit if they are to make a success. But that’s worth it when you look at the average salary for a journalist which is approx. $40 000 per year.
It is not a job where you become the top dog overnight. You need to have the perseverance to push through the mundane work to build a reputation for yourself. Lastly, confidence and perseverance will eventually land you the story that will set your career for the future. All you need to do is to decide if you fit the job description for journalists.