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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.

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.

How can I become a Journalist?

A bachelors degree in journalism, communications, liberal arts or english is the minimum requirement to become a journalist. Some students complete a double major in journalism and another subject, such as business or economics. Getting a masters degree in journalism can broaden one's horizons, or can start ones career in journalism if their bachelors degree was in a different subject.

A journalist needs to have excellent research skills and an ability to generate accurate information and good content. They must be able to ask the right questions and understand situations quickly in order to produce coherent stories.

Like any writer, journalists should have a passion for language and all the ways it can be used. It's not just about the facts, but also about the way they are presented. Journalists need to have excellent writing and grammatical skills, and must always aim for accuracy.

To gather information, journalists need to have determination (though sometimes perceived as aggressiveness) to ask all the appropriate and necessary questions.

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    Further Reading

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

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      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.

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

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

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      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.

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      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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