If you are currently a journalist (or formerly practiced this noble profession) and are looking…
Journalism is an industry that has continued to see growth in recent years thanks to the Internet and multiple news sources. It’s also an industry that will always be needed. Unfortunately, with phrases like “fake news” being thrown around more than ever, it’s not enough to just want to be a journalist; those entering the field have to be great at what they do.
Good journalists get to the heart of the matter when it comes to any story they’re working on. They approach news from a neutral perspective and have to work to get the facts rather than voice their own opinions.
If you’ve always had a passion for journalism, or even if you’ve gone to school to break into the industry, there are a few tips you should keep in mind to get started. While there is a growing need for good journalists, it also isn’t the easiest sector to get into and gain credibility. With that in mind, let’s cover a few of those tips that you can use, not only to get your foot in the door but to build up your portfolio and be taken seriously by your peers and readers.
How to Get Started
One of the first things to consider if you want to become a journalist is where you should live. Finding the best place to start a new career doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Look at states and cities that are showing consistent career growth in a variety of industries, and what the median salaries are for the people who live there.
When it comes to journalism, there are probably a few cities that are already coming to mind for you. But, if you still need some ideas, some of the top cities for jobs in the media are:
– New York City
– Washington DC
– Des Moines
While moving to the right location is a start, once you get there, it’s all about breaking into the industry. Journalists go about this in different ways. Some pursue internships at magazines or newspapers. Others start building up a portfolio as a freelancer, hoping to get noticed. The important thing is to find your specific path, which requires a unique perspective and voice.
Best Practices for Beginners
To break into the industry, you have to be passionate about what you’re doing. But, it’s also a good idea to network and find a mentor. Not only will someone with experience help your writing to improve but they can connect you with the right people to land a job.
In addition to networking, you’ll have to find your voice and how it will fit into the current environment within the journalism industry. People are looking for truth and news they can trust more than ever before, especially with the current political climate, pandemic fears, and social unrest. Journalists who aren’t afraid to dig for the facts and create data-driven stories are the ones who are going to stand out. As a beginner, you can’t afford to be lazy with your stories. Talking about things you can prove with data and facts will boost your credibility.
You also need to make sure you sound like a journalist when you write, and not a blog writer or article contributor. Journalistic writing includes:
– Doing research
– Finding a specific angle
– Writing a strong lede
– Using quotes
– Verifying sources
– Writing simply for everyone to understand
If you’re having a hard time finding your unique voice or an interesting perspective, do what you can to spark inspiration. Learn from others, and do some nonfiction reading of bestselling books to get a better idea of which subjects “sell” and what people are interested in. That doesn’t mean you need to copy another writer’s style or methods. But, looking at other people’s work is a great way to give you the motivation you need to write something original.
The Future of Journalism and How You Can Fit In
Thanks to advancements in technology, the state of the journalism industry is changing. Again, the Internet has had a huge impact on how news is reported, and to the average individual, it can feel like stories change in an instant.
As a journalist, it’s important to keep up with those changes and embrace technology as it shapes the future of the industry. There are some things, like AI, that can help with news production and getting stories out to the masses quickly. But, technology can’t write your stories for you. There is nothing like a human perspective, so don’t worry about robots “taking over” journalism.
Everything from blockchain advancements to “brand journalism” will impact how the industry develops in the coming years. Because of these advancements, your role as a journalist may end up looking far from traditional, requiring you to be familiar with everything from social media posting to blog writing. To find continued success in your career as a journalist, you have to be willing to adapt your style, your methods, and your openness.
If you can do that, not only will you get your foot in the door of the industry but you can quickly start to build a name for yourself and your unique stories. There is no denying this is a tough line of work to break into. But, if you can find your niche in the right area, you could have a lasting career and a household name.
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