What are the Qualities Required to Become a Good Journalist

Like any other profession, journalism too requires certain types of people, not everyone can become a good journalist. There are certain qualities that a person must possess in order to become a good journalist. Some qualities can be worked on, but mostly a certain personality would be more suitable for the high pressure job of a journalist. I have seen a lot of different people in this field, some live up to the image of the conventional journalist that we have in mind, while others are a stark contrast, nevertheless, they are pretty good at their job. So, what qualities does one need to survive in the competitive world of journalism, here is a list:

Accuracy
There is no room for errors in news, a journalist must make sure he gets accurate information. No guesses should be made, all the information should be double checked. As the popular slogan goes, ‘Get it first, but first get it right.’ A journalist needs to have an eye for detail and accuracy.

Speed
In journalism, speed is as important as accuracy. Someone may be a very good writer and may able to write an excellent story in a day. However, a journalist is required to write within the deadline, which may sometimes be not more than 15 minutes. There is always a deadline, if one cannot write in this pressure, then he is definitely not suitable for the job.

Curiosity
It is extremely important for a journalist to be curious, or else he will fail to spot a potential story. He must always be curious to find out as much as he can. He should have a wide range of interests and must be eager to learn about people, places and events. In addition, a keen interest in current affairs is a must.

Wide Range of Knowledge
A journalist must be a well read person, he does not have to be an expert, but he must possess a wide range of knowledge. This is important, because he will be informing people and this is not possible if he is not well informed.

Researching Skills
It is not possible for a journalist to know everything, however it is important that he must be able to research well within the given time. Each story requires a certain amount of research, a journalist must be able to make the most of the available resources to add depth to his story.

Writing Skills
A journalist must be a good writer, he must be able to express himself clearly. He must have good knowledge of grammar and must be able to write in a way that is easily understood by people. In addition, he must have good spellings and punctuation.

Interviewing Skills
A journalist primarily gets his information from people. He meets a lot of different types of people while covering a story. He should be able to ask relevant questions at the right time and should not be intimidated by a big personality. He should have a pleasing personality, or else people will be apprehensive to talk to him. In addition, he should be a good listener and must listen patiently to people irrespective of their age and background.

Objective Thinking
A journalist must be objective, no matter what the situation is. His story must be free of any prejudice and be reported as it is. He may have his own choices with regards to political parties and leaders, etc. However, he should keep them aside when covering a story. Moreover, he should be open to new ideas and views, he should not cover stories with any preconceived notions.

Networking Skills
A journalist must have the ability to build contacts. He must have a long list of acquaintances and friends from different walks of life. It is these contacts that can serve as a source, when a story breaks. Moreover, he should be able to gain the trust of people, so that they call him/her when they have some news.

Detached Attachment
A journalist must report a story in such a way that he is detached and attached to it at the same time. A certain amount of involvement is required to get a good story, but at the same time he should not get so attached that the final story is colored with his beliefs.

Commitment
A journalist must be very committed to his job, or else the deadlines and long working hours will get to him. Very often a journalist is required to sacrifice his holiday, to cover a breaking story. He must realize that he might have to sacrifice some of his personal life for the job. Hence, a journalist in general, must be committed to the basic human and democratic values.

Discipline
A journalist must be an extremely disciplined person, to be able to work constantly under strict deadlines. He must be punctual or else people will not be able to trust him with information. A disciplined person would give people confidence, to trust him with news.

Passion
A journalist must be a very passionate person, who is enthusiastic to get information, uncover scandals and inform people. Someone who is laid back and has a casual approach, will get bored of his job very quickly. Only a passionate person will be able to do the job every single day with enthusiasm.

Sense of Humor
Journalism can be a very ruthless field; covering tragedies and scandals so often may be depressing for many. A sense of humor would come handy during stressful times and keep a journalist going.

In addition to the above mentioned qualities, it is always better if a journalist has expert knowledge of the beat he intends to cover. He should also, always be in the good books of the police. Journalists are not made in classrooms, they are self motivated people with a fire in their belly. People who aspire to make it big in the world of journalism can certainly try imbibing these qualities. So, if you have most of these above mentioned qualities, then give the media a try, it might be your calling!

Journalism Ethics and Standards

Journalism ethics and standards are a set of principles that act as a guideline for professional journalists. These are often referred to as “code of ethics” or the “canons of journalism”, and are aimed at ensuring that journalists maintain honesty and integrity in their profession. Journalists are challenged regularly in their professional lives as the lines between working ethically and being labeled unethical, sometimes appear blurry. Let us take a look at an example to understand the ethical dilemma journalists may get into in their professional lives.

To uncover massive corruption in India’s Ministry of Defense, an Indian newspaper launched a major sting operation called Operation West End. Two journalists posing as arms dealers from London got into negotiations with the higher-ups in the establishment and filmed the whole conversation. The undercover video showed the secretary of the ruling party and several other higher-ups accepting bribes while promising the journalists to help them in securing government contracts in India. The video was played to the whole nation causing a flutter in the political circles. The casualties were the Minister of Defense, secretary of the ruling party and several other high-profile bureaucrats.

In this scenario, the journalists used covert methods to seek truth and expose the culprits, but it also triggered a debate on whether this can qualify as unethical journalism. It is very important to take a balanced view at the subject. The motive behind this act was to uncover those who were causing losses worth millions of dollars for their own personal gains apart from compromising on the security of the nation. If the journalists had not embarked on this mission, there was every possibility that those corrupt ministers would have never been brought to justice. The other side of the coin is that by using hoax names, posing as someone else, or taping someone without his/her permission is an act of infringement of an individual’s privacy, and hence unacceptable. The debate on this issue can go on, but the real issue at hand is that journalists come across these situations frequently, and without the presence of clear-cut guidelines, it more or less becomes an individualistic choice.

Journalism Ethics

As far as the ethics are concerned, there isn’t any standard reference book which journalists can refer to. There are different types of journalism and it is an evolving field and there is scope to incorporate new principles. Various associations come up with basic codes and canons frequently and most of them lay emphasis on the virtues of conducting yourself honestly, fairly and without any slant. Some of the universal journalism ethics and standards are:
☛ Journalists should conduct themselves sincerely and honestly, and they should strive to present information in a lucid manner to public. Journalists have to ensure that they verify all relevant facts before airing/publishing the story.
☛ They should be free from all prejudices concerning race, religion, sex and ethnicity, and every attempt should be made to ensure that no section of society is hurt by their reporting.
☛ They should not use any covert means to obtain information and should make every attempt to ensure that they are not intruding into an individual’s privacy.
☛ Special care should be taken while interviewing children, mentally challenged individuals and people who are going through a turmoil. If the person in question does not want to give an interview, journalists should respect his wish and not indulge in any kind of pestering and nagging.
☛ Journalists should not be influenced by any personal gains, consideration, advantage offered and should ensure that they do not publish/broadcast something for these gains.

Journalists around the world have been often accused of giving more importance to matters pertaining to glamor and leisure rather than focusing on issues that are of grave importance. An example of this can be the hysterical media coverage on the wedding of Prince William. The marriage was beamed live across the world, putting more concerning issues on the back-burner. Journalists on the other hand, have always maintained that catering to what people want to watch is important and can’t be overlooked.

As mentioned earlier, ethics and journalism is an ongoing theory and it is characterized by constant additions and omissions. The onus lies on journalists to ensure that they keep-up the good work and refrain from getting into something that can make people to lose faith in this institution and raise questions on the very foundation on which it was laid.

Fashion Journalism

Have you ever wondered how the glamor of the fashion world reaches out to millions of people all over the globe. It is simply because of an aspect known as fashion journalism. It is a wide term which is generally used in direct relation with the fashion media. As the name suggests, this is a concept that includes everything related to publicity of the industry.

The primary aim is to let the common public know about the trends. The many different types of means used in this kind of journalism are magazines, books, newspapers, television, and even Internet.

How to Become a Fashion Journalist

The first step to become a fashion journalist is to understand as much as possible about how the industry works. You should go through magazines and newspapers, and carry out general research on the web regarding related topics. Make contacts with on-line fashion writers and get to know more about this field. Education is also valued a lot when it comes to fashion.

Therefore, you can search for good courses in reputed schools. After completing a course, you can choose to work as interns that would give you valuable knowledge to excel in this career. You may also create your own blog about fashion, and keep adding useful information to it.

Various Career Options

After understanding the fundamental concept, you would now get an idea of the careers in this field. In this very prominent industry; there are careers like fashion writers, reporters, critics, and photographers. The roles and responsibilities of these professionals differ greatly as per the settings they are employed in. However, the most notable career in this industry is that of a fashion journalist.

Job Description

A fashion journalist can be anyone such as a fashion writer, editor, or reporter. Typically, the main job responsibility of is to gather all the necessary and related information from the fashion world, and publicize it through mass media. They have to conduct a thorough research of the industry, and select significant issues, matters, styles, and major events for publicizing.

A journalist has to work together with professionals such as photographers, designers, and public relation executives. For collecting appropriate information, he may have to conduct interviews of important people in the fashion industry.

Salary

There are many factors that define the salary such as level of experience, education, and training; and most importantly, the type of employment. Some may work as freelancers while others might provide their services to magazines and publication houses on a full-time basis. Those working in publication houses may earn a median pay of around $55,000 per year. Freelancing fashion journalists generally get paid according to the contracts they are hired for.

In order to get into in this field, you necessarily need to have good oral, written, communication skills, and interpersonal skills.

How to Become a Journalist

Journalism is one of the most popular career options in the world today. Why? Because everyone in the world wants news, whether it is on politics, business, sports or gossip. The market for news reporting is quite huge. Hence, it is one of those mass media careers which is quite pervasive all over the world. But then again, it requires the correct educational qualifications and the desire to work hard. Moreover, journalism is an art, for which one needs the correct aptitude.

Educational Requirements

A good career starts with good education. Hence, the first thing you will need to do is enroll yourself in a good journalism school. A course can be done at both bachelors and master’s levels. Of course, the one with a bachelors level degree will get more of an entry-level job, while one with a master’s degree has a higher chance of getting recruited at a better position in a media house. It also helps if you hold a degree or a diploma in English language too.

Your college may also offer you a specialization in various courses for you to choose from, like newspaper reporting, investigative reporting, foreign correspondence, broadcast journalism (TV and radio), sports, online and photojournalism. So you can choose your specialization based on the type of career you want to make.

Along with the value addition which the journalism school will give you, it is increasingly being seen that media houses prefer recruiting from such schools as opposed to general interviews? Why? Because when they recruit from the journalism schools, it saves them the time and the effort of basic training. While on-the-job training still remains unavoidable, by recruiting ready-to-work graduates means that the media houses recruit people who have a fair idea of what their job is about.

The second very important reason why you should go to a good journalism school is because the school may hook you up as an intern with a media house. This helps break the cycle of media houses not recruiting you due to your lack of experience, and you aren’t experienced enough because no media house recruits you. A good internship means you get valuable insight into the job of a journalist. It also helps you build contacts and news sources and informants, a key professional requirement for journalists.

And the last step is to spread the word about yourself. Most probably, you might get recruited on campus by media houses visiting your college. But in case they don’t, you might have to send your resume to various media houses and employment websites which will help you find a suitable job.

Duties, Career and Salary

Of course, one also needs to look at the career and salary scope of a particular career before zeroing in on it. A journalist recruited at the entry-level will be pretty much on the field, scouring it for an interesting story. Initially, the journalist might just be in charge of finding a story but not writing it at all. The second step is finding a story and reporting it in the newspaper/news channel, etc. The third step could be writing his/her opinion on the breaking news of the day and what should be the way forward. The pinnacle of a journalist’s career would be working as the editor for the newspaper/news channel on the whole, and pretty much running the show!

The salary depends a lot on the years of experience. A journalist with an experience of less than 1 year can expect to get around $26000 to $35000 annually. The salary may be variable based on the number of stories, the reports, and also the exact job description.

A career in journalism is an exciting one which helps you carve a niche and a name for yourself in the society, and is quite remunerative as long as you do well. So I urge you to consider this career seriously.

Online Photo Journaling

Whenever someone has a story to share about their travels, the birth of a new baby, or a dinner party with friends, stories abound online in blogs and vlogs. The blog (web log) originated as a forum and online community for people to editorialize their lives online. Blogging as a means of getting one’s stories out in the Internet ether has boomed over the last 5 to 10 years. People have more recently begun using their blogs as a means to distribute their photos along with stories―photo journaling online.

Vlogging is a form of blogging, but is based in video rather than written journaling. A vlog is a video log and provides a new, exciting form of online expression; there is, however, a much greater sense of preparation and production with vlogging in contrast to blogging. With the speed of the Internet and connectivity around the globe, vlogging is slowly becoming equally interesting and widespread as blogging alone.

Photo Journaling & Online Scrapbooks

Photo journaling, by definition, is documentation using photography. Many companies and organizations, including NASA, use photo journals to document new developments or progress. Photo journaling on its own is nothing new, but the blogosphere (the collective blogging community) is adding their online twist.

Most, if not all, blogging sites allow users to post digital photos to their blogs. There are also blogging sites that allow users to either select a canned layout for their blog, or design a unique custom layout themselves. When a blogger takes their simple blog to the level of photo journaling with a custom design, the blog can verge on becoming an online scrapbook.

Social Responsibility Awareness

Blogging carries its own set of rules for online etiquette, including disclaimers if it contains adult material. Caution is always warranted when posting sensitive material, such as work-related issues, and even work-based photos. Hiring companies more than ever are searching, finding, and reviewing personal blogs to discover more about potential candidates than exists on a resume or comes forth during an interview. A potential candidate would fair best not having compromising photos surfacing after a job-winning interview. Moreover, if a current employer finds an employee’s blog containing distinctly prohibited photos, employers can legally and without recourse fire the employee. It is vital for bloggers and vloggers to be aware of their social and work-related responsibilities before posting stories, videos, and photos online.

Photography Sites

Outside, but also attached to the blogosphere, there is an increasing number of websites, dedicated to photography, which allow their users to add comments to the photos they post. Picasa, Flickr, and Kodak are a few of many such websites. These sites in particular also provide online security for photos and photo albums. Most of these sites allow users to keep their albums private or to open them to the public. By opening up album to the public, users expose themselves to a greater set of online etiquette rules. It is important to be aware of one’s rights to the photos as well as the rules of the site where one is posting pictures and photo journals.

Most photography sites provide free access, use, and storage of a certain amount of space for photos and albums. If a blogger or vlogger wants to maintain multiple larger albums for an extended period, they can opt to pay for the service, thereby increasing both the storage capacity for their albums, as well as the length of time the albums will remain available. It is always advisable to read the expectations of the photography site before signing up, even if the site says it is free. These sites are out there to make money after all.

It is amazing the technology that the online community has at its disposal, and the technology does not have to remain digital; it can become physical. Another aspect of online photography sites includes access to associated vendors for printing the photos a blogger posts. The great thing about these vendors is that some of them offer photo books or albums that can be custom-made. Instead of sending off all the photos to be printed (which can get expensive), select a few pictures for a book. Make storybook entries below the pictures and have the book printed. They can become great holiday gifts or one-off memory holders for the family.

Many online photography and blogging sites are beginning to incorporate video capability. Many a vacationer takes videos with their point-and-click cameras for short instances of memories, such as videos of birds singing in the trees, street performers, or panoramic videos of a landscape that includes a voiceover. Bloggers are slowly beginning to cross lines from simply text and photos to amateur vloggers without realizing it!

Benefits of Online Photo Journals

Though there are a few drawbacks to blogging, vlogging, and photo journaling online, the benefits often outweigh the drawbacks (as long as users maintain good online etiquette). Vacation photos can tell friends and family the chronological, fun story of the travels. The same is true for a new family addition, such as finding and bringing home a new pet. Photographing, videoing, and journaling the process might help another family member or friend find it easier to do themselves.

Some more interesting and creative photo-journalistic sets can simply be picture-specific stories. Once a photo journal has been completed online, distribution of the album and its stories is made easy at once to a greater audience in digital or physical.

British Tabloids

A rather infamous counterpart of the British press, their tabloids are all about making the daily dose of news simpler, colorful, and of course, sensational. Although tabloids in most countries have a tendency to splash their pages with celebrity news, an interesting feature of the British ones is making sensational news out of every mundane incident, be it politics, sports, business or the good ol’ entertainment.

Classification

Red Top: Red top tabloids generally have a red masthead. They generally signify a more sensational style of journalism and perhaps that is indicated by the use if color red in the masthead of the newspaper.

Black Top: Black-top tabloids have a black masthead. Generally, they are considered less sensational and more serious form of the British press. The black color differentiates these tabloids from the sensational red-top versions.

Reasons for the Success

No matter how many people point fingers and frown upon them, it is a fact that the tabloids are popular and successful. There is a demand for compact news dose with peppy text and eye-catching pictures, and the tabloids are giving the readers just that.

Combating the New Media Wisely
Print media all over the world is facing serious competition from the new media, be it the Internet or television, and no one is geared up for the competition better than them. The new media has the power to supplant the print, and hence the tabloids have achieved what the mainstream broadsheets are still struggling with – creating a readership niche. Also most of the tabloids have embraced the new media instead of competing with them and hence have their e-versions or online editions.

Getting the Format Right
The tabloids have maintained a compact format, which is rather convenient for the reader to pick up, read, and carry as well. The text is minimum and is supplemented with appropriate pictures. The entire format stresses more on the visual appeal rather than the textual content.

No Hypocrisy
Yes, the British tabloids wear this sensational tag with pride and accept that they are profit driven and aim for good business at the end of the day. The readers want sensational news, the tabloids give them just that – hot sensational news garnished with a lot of spice and dollops of entertainment. They do not compete with the serious broadsheets; instead they have carved a niche for themselves. They have their own readership segment that is large enough to keep them going in the business.

Prominent British Tabloids

The Sun
Launched in: September 15, 1964
Owned by: News Corporation (Rupert Murdoch)
Readership: 3,200,000 copies daily
Masthead: Red-top Tabloid

The Sun is perhaps the most popular tabloids that is published in the United Kingdom as well the Republic of Ireland. Owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, the Sun has the highest circulation of any English daily newspaper with as many as 3,126,866 copies sold daily in October 2007. Some of the regular interesting features include the Page Three Girl which is highly criticized for being rather pornographic. The Paparazzi pictures are commonly featured on the front page. Although the Sun heavily banks on celebrity news from several fields, gossip concerning the monarchy and soap opera storylines, this tabloid also features serious stories about issues like domestic abuse, pedophiles, and security scandals.

The Daily Mail
Launched in:1896
Owned by: Daily Mail and General Trust PLC
Readership: 2,500,000
Masthead Black-top Tabloid

Originally started as a broadsheet in 1896, The Daily Mail switched to the tabloid format in 1971. It is Britain’s oldest tabloid, and is not only the second biggest selling daily newspaper but it also has the 12th largest circulation in the world among English language dailies. It is a black top tabloid, which introduced a Sunday title in 1982 that was known as the Mail on Sunday. As of October 2007, the circulation figures by the Audited Bureau of Circulations show gross sales of 2,400,143, which is an increase of one-third over the sales figures 25 years ago, when it sold 1.87 million copies a day.

The Daily Mirror
Launch Date: 1903
Owned by: Trinity Mirror PLC
Masthead: Red-top Tabloid

Popularly referred to as ‘The Mirror”, this consistently left-center tabloid was launched in 1903. It was supposed to be a newspaper for women and run by women. Alfred Harmsworth who originally started the newspaper had been quotes saying that, “I intend it to be really a mirror of feminine life as well on its grave as on its lighter sides – to be entertaining without being frivolous, and serious without being dull”. Back in the 1970s, the Sun surpassed the Mirror’s circulation, but declining circulation has plagued it since then.

The People
Owned by: Trinity Mirror PLC

‘The People’ is a British tabloid that is published only on Sundays. The Trinity Mirror group that also runs the Daily Mirror owns this tabloid. This tabloid also banks chiefly on celebrity news and scandals. Although it claims to be a competitor to The News of the World, it has a rather unimpressive circulation of less than one million as compared to the 3,445,459 copies per week sales of its competitor The News of the World. It is reported that the tabloid has suffered financial damages due to the cost cutting strategy in the year 2006.

The Daily Star
Launch Date: 1978
Owned by: The Express Newspapers
Readership: 800,000
Masthead Red-top Tabloid

Published in 1978, the Daily Star was purportedly the first national daily in Britain after the launch of the Daily Mirror. This tabloid is published by the Express Newspapers group, which also owns the Daily Express and Sunday Express. Like other red-top tabloids, the Daily Star also features celebrity news, gossip, and entertainment based features as its major content. Just like ‘The Sun’, this tabloid features a topless model on weekdays. These models are referred to as the ‘Starbabes’.

The Daily Express
Launched in: 1900
Owned by: Express Newspapers
Readership:800,000
Masthead Black-top Tabloid

The Daily Express is another conservative middle-market black-top Tabloid. Owned by the Express Newspapers group, it was started in 1900 as a broadsheet with gossip and the crossword puzzle. It switched to the tabloid format in 1977. The Daily Mail remains its biggest rival. The front page of this British Tabloid describes itself with a tagline that says “The World’s Greatest Newspaper.” According to the figures from the Audited Bureau of Circulations in 2007, the Daily Express has a circulation of 761,637, which is a 60% decline since 1982, when it sold over two million copies a day.

News of the World
Launched in: 1843
Owned by: News Group ( that is a branch of Murdoch’s News Corporation)
Readership: 3,500,000 copies per week

News of the World is a Sunday-only tabloid, published by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Published in 1843 by John Brown Bell, the newspaper soon established itself as the most widely read Sunday newspaper. Although the newspaper tends to focus on celebrity-based scoops and populist news, its constant interest and showcasing of sex scandals has gained it the nicknames like Sex ‘n’ Scandal weekly or News of the Screws and even Screws of the World. News of the World boasts of excellent sales records with an average of 3,445,459 copies per week in October 2006.

Metro
Launched in: 1999
Owned by: Associated Newspapers
Readership 1.8 Million

Metro is a free daily tabloid published by the Associated Newspapers group, which is available from Monday to Friday on most of the public transport services across the United Kingdom. Launched in 1999, the sales have already crossed the one million mark making it the fourth largest daily newspaper in the United Kingdom. Mainly aimed at the traveling lot, the newspaper has a youthful appeal and is designed to be read in twenty minutes. Metro features a heady concoction of articles ranging from subjects like travel, homes, style, and health to arts, and entertainment listings.

Love them, hate them but you just cannot ignore them. British tabloids speak volumes about the survival of the Print media and serve as an excellent example of a successful; business model in the mass communication industry by creating a niche for themselves. There exist a section of readers who would prefer a newspaper that could be picked up in their busy schedule and will serve as some quality light reading. It’s like having different tastes in books, and tabloids symbolize pulp fiction – If you find them blasphemous, suit yourself!