Journalism can be a rewarding career, especially when you can cover issues and events affecting everyday people locally and worldwide and make a real impact. You can conduct interviews, visit exciting locations, and provide valuable information that millions of people can read.
If you’ve decided that you’d like to pursue a career in journalism, you might be curious about the skills you’ll need to excel in the field. Here are just a few of the many you might need to fine-tune as you enter this exciting new industry.
Once you’ve got a clear idea of how to get into journalism and are ready to work on the skills you’ll need to succeed, put communication at the top of your list. Your primary job is communicating with people and delivering relevant information to a broad audience.
You’ll need to be proficient at interviewing, writing articles and scripts, and reporting news on TV or radio if those are the journalism avenues you choose. Being an excellent communicator can mean that your delivery of information exudes confidence, friendliness, and empathy.
Depending on the news stories you cover, you might find that sources you desperately need information from aren’t willing to talk. How persistent you are might be the difference between getting what you need and walking away empty-handed.
Fortunately, persistence is a learned skill. When you don’t get what you need from one avenue, look at another and circle back. Don’t be afraid to start again, and understand that dreaming big often requires you to start small.
Journalists encounter many challenges while putting together breaking news. They might come across inaccurate sources, important sources that don’t talk, or technological challenges that threaten to derail entire projects.
The frequency of such challenges means that problem-solving is a crucial skill to have. You must be able to think on your feet, get creative with how you overcome challenges, and come up with solutions in real-time, particularly during live broadcasts.
While not all stories you’ll be covering are hard-hitting news that requires in-depth research, you’ll still be required to have excellent research skills to find the information you’re looking for. Every story has a ‘what, when, who, how, why’ foundation to build from, and some of the best article information comes from asking these interview questions and performing further research independently. The most highly-skilled researchers also have a list of online and in-person sources to rely on, which can be built through on-the-job experience.
Your job as a journalist is to report the facts, but you must report these facts while abiding by journalistic ethics and standards. While there are at least 400 different codes based on where you work, the most common are fact-based communications, truthfulness, accuracy, and impartiality. Failure to maintain a high level of ethics in your work might wreak havoc on your reputation with both employers and the general public.
Journalism is an ever-evolving industry, and the many different job opportunities might pique your interest. If you’re thinking about entering this field, now might be the right time to review your education options and refine some of these skills above.