Journalists are an essential part of a modern, democratic society. We rely on them to report news through all types of media, including print, television, radio, and of course internet. Journalist usually work on a team with others in news-reporting positions such as photojournalists, editors and publishers. As a team they create well-rounded stories that provide multiple perspectives on current events, and as a team they collaborate to meet tight deadlines on a non-stop news day.
Typically a Journalist requires an undergraduate degree in the field of Journalism, English or Communication. If you have a specific subject interest you may double major in that concentration. For example if you want to write about financial issues, you may want to seek out an Economics degree as well as Journalism.
To become a Journalist you will need a four-year bachelor degree. This program will include coursework in the following:
- Communication law
- Investigative journalism
An MA in Journalism is also a good option, and a way to set yourself apart from others with only the minimum BA degree. Whether you decide to go through graduate school or not, an Internship could be a valuable venture, preferably in-between degrees.
It’s important to seek out an internship during or after your college years; this will provide you the experience you need to land a profitable job post graduation. Internships are also a smart way to set up networking connections, not only with professionals in the field, but with the news makers, activists, and citizen journalists who make up the fabric of contemporary journalism.
Of course know what media outlet you want to pursue. If you are set on Radio, then you really need to find a program that not only is accredited by the ACEJMC (The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications) but offers the media field you’d like to study and base your future of journalism in. Likewise, if you are set on something like digital media, you may want to start blogging and tweeting early on, because that will set you on the right path for your prospective job. Social media is the greatest source of journalistic content, but it also means a journalist is on the job 24/7 – get used to it!
When you do land your Journalism gig, you will be expected to spend a lot of time in the field. This is a fast paced environment; you will work long hours and you may have to be on call during weekends. You may have to work in dangerous areas in order to report and conduct interviews to create a cohesive story to relay to your viewers, listeners or readers.
Some Journalist are self-employed and take freelance assignments; others work for a news organization. The statistics for employment outlook are hard to interpret because we as a society have changed considerably in how we receive our news in just a couple of generations. Print media, for example, is in a huge decline. In fact it is set to decline 13% between 2012 and 2022. However, online news reporting is fairly stable and the need for journalists who specialize in digital media should fare better than those in print.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) annual report on college grads, Journalism grads are being hired on with an average starting pay of $40,900.