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!

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.