Are you passionate about uncovering the truth and sharing it with the world? Do you have a knack for storytelling and a desire to inform the public? If so, then you might want to know how to become a journalist.
Journalism is a dynamic and rewarding field that offers a variety of opportunities to those with a passion for the written word. From breaking news stories to investigative reporting, the world of journalism is constantly evolving, and there’s always a demand for talented writers who can bring a fresh perspective to the table.
But how exactly do you become a journalist? What skills do you need, and where do you start? In this article, we’ll explore the steps you can take to turn your passion for writing into a successful journalism career.
So, grab a notebook and pen, and let’s dive into the world of journalism!
Who is a journalist?
A journalist is a professional who gathers, investigates, writes, and reports news and information to the public. They work for various media outlets, including newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, and online publications.
Journalists are responsible for researching and verifying information, conducting interviews, and writing stories that are accurate, informative, and objective. They may cover a wide range of topics, from local and national news to politics, business, sports, and entertainment.
Popular specializations in a journalism career
Journalism is a vast field that encompasses various forms of media, including print, broadcast, and online platforms. There are several specializations in journalism that an individual can choose from, depending on their interests and skills. Here are some popular specializations in journalism:
- Journalist (Electronic Media): Journalists working in radio or audio-visual (television) media are often referred to as Electronic Media Journalists. Typically, unlike print media journalists, they report from the spot of an incident or event along with a photographer. Apart from reporting from the spot, they work at desks in television or radio studios and edit audio-visual clips or audio clips. They write all the text that appears on news channels or are broadcast over the radio. They may make video or audio clips from various news sources such as field reports, news agency reports, websites, etc.
- Journalist (Print Media): Print Media Journalists work in print mediums such as newspapers, magazines, periodicals, etc. They may work in various beats (a beat means a specialized area of reporting such as crime, politics, sports, business, etc.) and report on various incidents, events, situations, etc. They may also work in the desks in the offices and work as copy editors, sub-editors, editors, etc. They write or edit news stories, features, etc. and make the pages of newspapers, magazines, etc.
- Journalist (Online media or Web): In this specialized area, journalists work for web publications. There are many news portals on the web. Journalists working for web media mostly compile news stories and features from various news agency sources and other web sources. They write the stories and features and then publish the stories online.
- Journalist (Public Affairs): Public affairs constitute the core of journalism. It essentially focuses on the reporting of public issues such as government policies, electoral politics, economic growth and development, budget and taxation, military and defense, and various other matters that concern the common people.
- Sports Journalist: As the name suggests, Sports Journalists focus on reporting the latest news and stories from the world of sports. Sports journalists write about and report on both amateur and professional sports. Their job duties include tasks like reporting live games/sports competitions, interviewing players and coaches, performing game commentary, sports analysis, etc.
- Blogger (News): News Bloggers work independently and either write news stories or shoot videos for their blogs or write for web news portals as freelance journalists.
- Blogger (Features): Bloggers who write features (which may include opinion, news analysis, stories on social, economic, political, and other aspects as well as videos) either write for their blogs or work as freelance journalists for web media.
- Freelance Journalist/Writer: Freelance Journalists and Writers work on a freelance basis for print media, web, or electronic media. They may write news stories and features or may shoot photographs/videos to go with their news stories and features. Depending upon the kind of assignment they get, they may also accompany photographers and build the stories jointly.
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What does a journalist do?
As a journalist, you will be working with major newspapers, magazines, media houses, newswire agencies, websites, radio stations, television companies, periodical publishers, or journals operating in both online and print media spaces. Your job will be to reproduce first-hand information gathered by reporters, anchors, interviewers, photographers, etc., about events, facts, ideas, and people, in a written format. You will have to coordinate your work with news editors, copywriters, marketing executives, advertisement agencies, graphic designers, etc. to produce an effective piece of a news report from received first-hand information.
As a journalist, you will be engaged with one or more of the following roles and responsibilities: –
- You will be receiving assignments or evaluating tips or leads to create story ideas.
- You will be researching a story’s background information for providing accurate and complete information.
- You will be reporting news stories for broadcast or publication, describing the details and background of events.
- You will be gathering information and data about events through interviews, research, and experience or by attending the news, political, artistic, sports, social, or other functions.
- You will be reviewing and evaluating notes collected about news events to aggregate pertinent details and facts.
- You may be investigating developments in breaking news, such as crimes, disasters, or human-interest stories.
- You may be reviewing the audio, written, or video copy and correcting errors in grammar, content, or punctuation, as per prescribed formatting guidelines, word limits, and editorial styles.
- You may be writing on specialized fields such as green technology, medicine, environmental issues, politics, science, arts, sports, business, consumer affairs, crime, religion, or education.
- You may be determining the length, emphasis, and format of a published or broadcasted story and organizing material accordingly.
- You may be developing material or ideas for commentaries or columns by interpreting and analyzing current issues, news, or personal experiences.
Why become a journalist?
There are many reasons why someone might choose to become a journalist. Here are some of the most common:
- Passion for writing: If you enjoy writing and have a natural curiosity about the world, becoming a journalist can be a great way to combine these interests.
- Desire to inform and educate: Journalism plays an important role in keeping the public informed about what is happening in the world. If you have the desire to educate and inform others, journalism can be a great career path
- Opportunity to make a difference: Journalists often have the opportunity to bring attention to important issues and make a difference in people’s lives. This can be very rewarding for those who want to have a positive impact on the world.
- Love of storytelling: Journalism is all about telling stories, whether it’s through news articles, features, or investigative pieces. If you have a passion for storytelling, becoming a journalist can be a great way to put that talent to use.
- Variety: Journalism can be a very diverse field, with opportunities to cover a wide range of topics and issues. This can be appealing to those who enjoy variety in their work.
How to become a journalist – eligibility criteria
The list of eligibility criteria to become a journalist are listed below,
- Candidates must have passed 10+2 with a minimum of 50% marks in any stream.
- Candidates from SC/ST or other reserved categories get a relaxation of 5% marks.
- Some colleges/universities have criteria for English as a compulsory subject in class 12th with a minimum of 50% marks in any stream for a bachelor’s degree.
- For the Master’s degree, candidates must have a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minimum of 50% marks.
- For PG Diploma programs, the candidate must have a minimum of 45% marks in graduation.
- Some of the universities/colleges also ask for a valid score in the entrance exam conducted by the respective university.
Top Institutes to pursue a journalism career
Some of the top institutes and colleges for pursuing journalism courses are –
- Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media
- Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication
- Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University
- Indian Institute of Mass Communication
- Jamia Millia Islamia University
- Xavier Institute of Communications
- Asian College of Journalism
Job opportunities as a journalist
You will get job opportunities as a Journalist in companies like NDTV, Discovery, BBC, CNN, The Times of India, the Indian Express, and The Economic Times or other regional/national:
- Media Houses
- Newswire agencies
- Radio Stations
- Television Companies
- Periodical Publishers
You may get roles like:
- Features Writing – Executive
- Copy Editor
- Web Page content developer
You may also work as a freelance journalist/copyeditor but you have to maintain wide industry contacts to work independently.
Salary of a journalist
According to Payscale India, the average salary for a journalist in India is around INR 358,000 per year. However, this can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and type of media outlet.
In general, journalists working for top-tier media companies in metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore can earn higher salaries than those working for smaller outlets in rural areas.
According to Glassdoor, some of the top-paying media companies in India include the Times of India Group, NDTV, Hindustan Times, and India Today Group, among others.
Career progression in journalism
From entry-level job positions as Reporter/Journalist, Sub Editor, Copy Editor, Assistant Reporter, etc., you may grow into a team leader role managing the work of a few journalists. In medium and large-scale companies, you may have a position as a Senior Reporter, Senior Journalist, or Associate Editor after 8-12 years of experience, and then as a Deputy Editor, Correspondent, Editor, etc. Leadership roles are Senior Editor, Managing Editor, etc.
Becoming a journalist requires a strong passion for writing, research, and a keen interest in current events. It takes years of hard work and dedication to acquire the skills necessary to excel in this field. Start by pursuing a degree in journalism, gaining experience through internships and freelance work, and building a strong network of contacts. It’s essential to stay up-to-date with new media trends and technological advancements in journalism. Also, developing a niche and honing your skills in a particular area can set you apart from the competition. Finally, always be willing to learn and adapt as the industry continues to evolve. With perseverance and a commitment to excellence, anyone can become a successful journalist.
We hope we have served you with enough information. Do you still want to get your doubts answered? Why don’t you connect with our industry experts? Yes, you read it right! You can get your queries resolved in just 60 seconds from our Career counselors. So, what are you waiting for? Download the iDreamCareer app now!
Become a Journalist: FAQs
Most employers prefer a bachelor’s degree in journalism, communication, or a related field. However, some journalists may have a degree in a different field but gain experience in journalism through internships, freelance work, or on-the-job training.
Strong writing and communication skills are essential, along with the ability to conduct interviews, research, and fact-check information. Other useful skills include critical thinking, time management, and adaptability.
You can build your portfolio by publishing articles on a personal blog or website, contributing to student newspapers or other publications, and creating multimedia content such as videos or podcasts.
Journalists must adhere to principles of accuracy, fairness, and impartiality in their reporting. They must also respect the privacy and dignity of individuals, avoid conflicts of interest, and be transparent in their methods and sources.
Job opportunities include working as a reporter, correspondent, editor, producer, or writer for traditional print or broadcast media outlets, as well as digital media platforms such as blogs, websites, and social media. Freelance work is also an option for journalists.
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Anushree has 4+ years of experience in the career counseling industry as a Senior Content Writer. She has also worked as a Social Media Marketing Expert for a startup and Content Quality Analyst for Publishing and E-learning Industry. She has done her Master’s in Commerce and PGDM in Finance & Trade and Marketing & HR, but she is currently following her passion for writing.