What is a Journalist?

Also known as: Columnist, Editorial Writer.

A journalist is someone who investigates, collects and presents information as a news story. This can be presented through newspapers, magazines, radio, television and the internet. Journalists are relied upon to present news in a well-rounded, objective manner.

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What does a Journalist do?

Journalism is a broad career with many opportunities. Within different areas of media (television, radio, newspapers, magazines, etc.), there are specialized tasks for journalists. Depending on the size of an organization, a journalist may work one or many of these tasks:

Reporters -
are directly involved in the gathering of information. They conduct interviews, find sources, and pull together all the information needed to write a well-rounded news story. Reporters also present the information in a written or spoken form in news stories, documentaries, or feature articles. General reporters cover all kinds of news stories, but some may specialize in certain areas such as sports, politics, or lifestyle. Some reporters may work on staff for large news organizations, or as freelance writers, writing stories for whomever is paying them.

Sub-editors -
take stories written by reporters and put them into a form that suits the special needs of their particular newspaper, magazine, or website. Sub-editors do not gather the information themselves but rather they concentrate on how existing stories can be better tailored to match a specific audience.

Photojournalists -
use photography as a way of reporting the news. They may cover events with a reporter, taking photographs to represent a written story or attend news events on their own, doing both jobs. A photojournalist must carry photographic equipment with them, and must make decisions instantly in order to capture important events at the time they take place. At times, they may be exposed to physical danger, crowds, or harsh weather.

The editor -
is in charge of deciding what goes in a newspaper, magazine, or news bulletin. He or she is responsible for the content that is to be written by the journalists and makes all final decisions.

The news editor -
is the person in charge of all news journalists. They make all the decisions about what stories to cover and who will do the work. In large news organizations, the news editor may have a deputy, often referred to as the chief of staff, whose job is to assign reporters to selected stories.

Feature writers -
write longer stories, which give more background to a news story. This type of writing involves a lot more in-depth research to give readers a lengthy and informative article.

What is the workplace of a Journalist like?

Depending on the type of article being written, a journalist works anywhere they need to in order to produce the story. The workplace may vary, whether it's attending functions and big events or knocking on people's doors. Writing the article after all the information is gathered may be done in a hotel room, a coffee shop, an office or from home.



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Further Reading

  • A Journalism Graduate Shares Her Story

    With so many people interested in journalism, we thought it would be helpful to talk with someone who’s been there.

  • Types Of Journalism

    Over the decades, several types of journalism have developed that have given different dimensions to the field of mass media. One method of classification is on the basis of their specialization (beat), method of gathering information, and writing/reporting style.

  • A Working Life: The Broadcast Journalist

    From the miners' strike to the bombing of Beirut, Newsnight's Tim Whewell has travelled far and wide in search of the news. Graham Snowdon met him.

  • How Does Music Journalism Differ From Traditional Journalism?

    Any career as a journalist is heavily associated with the strong smell of coffee and the fluorescent glow of a computer screen. But the activities that take place after that first coffee of the day differ between a music and a traditional journalist.

  • Becoming A Magazine Journalist

    I get lots of emails asking for advice, from people hoping to pursue a career in journalism, so I thought it would be helpful to write a post with my thoughts.

  • A Day In The Life Of... An Evening Standard Journalist

    Susannah Butter is a features writer at one of the UK's largest newspapers, the London Evening Standard. A just 23, Susannah has to be one of the youngest and hardest working full-time professional journalists in the capital.

  • A Day In The Life Of: A Journalist

    6:00 am: No way I can shut off my alarm and sleep a few more minutes this morning! I am driving all the way to Tripoli for a one on one interview with a very well-known Lebanese political figure at 9:00 am sharp!...

  • Principles Of Journalism

    The first three years of the Project’s work involved listening and talking with journalists and others around the country about what defines the work. What emerged out of those conversations are the following nine core principles of journalism...

  • What Is It That Journalists Do? It Can’t Be Reduced To Just One Thing

    There’s a craving in the air for a definitive statement on what journalism is, something to rally around as everything changes. But I want to do the opposite. I want to explode journalism, to break it apart into its atomic acts.

  • Five Qualities Editors Seek In Journalists

    The following are some tips that might help those starting off in a career in the media.

  • Sports Journalist Job Description

    Your future duties and sports journalist job description will depend on which type of media you’ll be working with, whether it is newspaper, magazine, TV, radio, or the growing realm of online media.

  • What Is A Journalist?

    Here we will discuss: who journalists are and what they do; why people become journalists; and what qualities you need to be a good journalist.

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