Who's a Journalist?
From unearthing scandals and reporting crime to reviewing the latest blockbusters and newest restaurants in town, the life of a journalist is very eventful! As a journalist, your primary job is to give people two kinds of information: need to know and nice to know. Journalists either write for a newspaper or magazine, or host a news segment on TV or radio. Most journalists begin by covering everything, but eventually choose a specialisation like entertainment, war, politics, sports, etc.
Sounds like a great career option? Get to know it better in the following sections!
Curious about the life of the journalist? Spend a day in the life of the journalist Rajeshwari adappa
What will you do?
Reporting and covering news stories.
Your primary role is looking for news or features and reporting them to the public. This would involve gathering the necessary information, interviewing people involved and doing your research. All news and feature stories need to be unbiased and based on facts.
Example: As a crime journalist, you would interview victims, suspects, witnesses and authorities working the case to understand and report the story better. You would also look into past events for statistics or information on similar crimes committed in the area.
You will travel to different places in search of new stories, or to investigate and collect information on a particular story. Some journalists also specialise exclusively in travel stories.
Example: If you specialise in sporting events, you will have to travel abroad to cover international events.
People look to journalists to help them understand the unfolding of events. It is therefore your responsibility to provide this information in the best way possible. Depending on the event you cover, you must use write-ups, graphics, videos, pie charts, illustrations, discussions, etc.
Example: If you’re writing a story about a holiday destination, add pictures of the place or a video to help people understand it better.
Research and verify every story you cover, so you provide truthful and informative stories to the public. Stories that show errors in facts can affect your and your news agency’s credibility and following.
Example: When covering news about a crime or scandal, ensure that you get more than one reliable source of information to avoid misreporting any facts.
Selecting a role.
There are two primary roles you play as a journalist; as a:
- Desk person
A reporter goes out on the field and gathers news and stories, whereas the desk person (also known as sub-editor/editor) will edit the story, add a heading and place it in a newspaper/magazine.
So, right at the outset, you’ll need to decide if you want to be a reporter or a desk person. Based on your role and your profile, your tasks will differ.
Where will you work?
If you choose to be a reporter, you would work on the field, where you would interview people, attend events, be part of court hearings, etc.
If you choose to be a sub-editor, you would work at the office, where you would work with reporters to edit copies, design headings, and lay them out using software.
As a reporter, you would work from a different region or country on breaking news stories and, at times, even find yourself in dangerous situations, especially if you’re a war correspondent.
How do you get there?
What skills would you need?
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Analytical and Data Skills
You will receive huge amounts of data from your client. This data will have to be analysed effectively so you can find ways that will help your client reach their customers is the best way possible. While it is true that the more data you analyse, the more insights you generate; analytical thinking will help you narrow down your search and find your key actionable items, thus saving you a lot of time and resources.build this skill
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AdaptabilityAs a marketer, you will deal with different types of customers. You could be working with a manufacturing company that sells paper to businesses, or a company that sells chips to the masses. Your skill will be measured by how you deal with different consumers.
Attention to Detail
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How do you make it to the top ranks?
Pursuing your career locally VS overseas
If you have studied journalism in India, you would have a deep understanding of the field here and, therefore, find it easy to get a job here. With many new digital publications setting up every year, there is a huge demand for professionals in this career. Pursuing a BA or BMM in India would cost you anywhere between INR 50,000- INR 5,00,000 depending on the college you opt for. Top colleges from where you can pursue journalism in India are the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Lady Shri Ram College, etc. While a graduation course is enough to land you a job here, you can always look forward to pursuing a masters in the field to enhance your knowledge in the field.
If you are planning to graduate in journalism outside India, establish a good network with people there so you can eventually get a job in that country. Once you decide to study abroad, ensure that you get a thorough perspective of the culture, the society, the people and build your own network. A master’s or diploma in journalism abroad would cost you an average of INR 10,00,000-INR 50,00,000 depending on the university and the type of course you opt for. You can also look to do a specialisation course in photojournalism, sports journalism, online journalism, etc. Top colleges to study journalism abroad are Columbia College, Pennsylvania University, Medill School, and so on.
How much would you get paid?
Your payscale would depend on the organisation you work for, the experience and talent you bring to the table, and the city you work in!
What are your career options?
If you want to connect with people through your writing, get into print journalism. As a print journalist, you would dig up interesting stories and write about them. You would generally work with a newspaper or a magazine as a reporter or editor. As a reporter, you would go around collecting news pieces on the current happenings and events. This job will keep you on your toes and out in the real world where the action is. Editing is more of a desk job and involves editing articles to maintain style and grammar. You would work on adding headlines, kickers, and relevant photographs to articles.
If you’ve always pictured yourself reporting live from an event – giving people live updates – pick broadcast journalism. As a broadcast journalist, you would report news, read news, and host debates and other talk shows on the TV, internet or radio. Since this is live, presence of mind and quick wit is essential to grow and thrive.
If you are a sports enthusiast, you can get into the field of sports journalism. As a sports journalist, you would cover tournaments, events, and news related to sports. You would talk about different sports events from local football or cricket matches to the Olympics, rate a player’s performance, interview sports players and coaches, etc. You can even choose one sport that you want to cover and build your expertise in that field. You could work for a newspaper, news channel, radio channel, magazine or website.
Entertainment journalists interview actors, musicians, dancers, writers, etc. They are the ones who give you the inside story on the lives of celebrities, tell you which movies or plays you should watch, etc. As an entertainment journalist, you would be required to attend trailer launch events, watch movies, read books, attend concerts and festivals. You would work in sync with photographers and videographers, especially when you’re reporting live from events and parties. Life as an entertainment journalist can be very glamorous and exciting but, since most of these events take place at odd hours it can get very hectic.
Are you passionate about keeping a check on how the government works? Would you like to help people understand the good, bad and the ugly of their leaders? If yes, consider pursuing political journalism. As a political journalist, you would cover all aspects of politics and political science, and present it to the people. You would report about new policies drafted, party manifestos, etc.
As an education journalist, your day could start in a nursery school with kids struggling to read and end at a meeting with politicians struggling to create new policies. If you’re passionate about education, consider this beat. You would be reporting on all things education, from the different boards of education and teachers to new colleges and entrance exams. You would also look into how new technology is changing the face of teaching and report on its pros and cons.
If you feel like you’re more of a picture’s than word’s person, photojournalism is the path for you. As a photojournalist, you would make use of pictures to tell a story. This would involve documenting various events and capturing precious and significant moments. You can form a niche for yourself by specialising as an entertainment photographer, war photographer, travel photographer, etc., depending on your interest.
Feature writers write feature stories, which are different from news stories. They feature life around us as it evolves. Typical features stories relate to fashion, food, profiles, health, travel and so on. As a features writer, you have to ensure that you have something interesting and new to share with the reader or viewer.
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