Journalism remains an important occupation in the digital age, and whether you’re covering local stories or global events, you need to have certain qualities to do a great job. Qualities ranging from strong analytical skills along with specialist knowledge can help you become a successful journalist. Here are 10 key ways for deciding whether pursuing a career in journalism may be the right path for you.
As a journalist, there’s a public-service dimension to your work, so you need to be able to work to high ethical standards. Accurately reporting the facts, remaining impartial, and staying committed to the truth are essential for high journalism standards. Your readers need to be able to trust you, and being principled will help you establish and maintain credibility.
2. Analytical and astute
Having strong analytical skills and exercising astuteness enables you to achieve strong attention to detail. A core part of your job is providing your readers with an accurate, complete picture of the issue at hand, so you need to be observant and likely pick up details that others easily miss. A high level of scepticism and need for evidence and facts helps you uncover the truth for an accurate story.
3. Intellectually curious
Journalists tend to be intellectually curious people, with a thirst for information and events. Whether you have broad knowledge or specialist familiarity with a topic, you’re able to strike up conversations with anyone, immerse yourself in the details, and stay curious and questioning to uncover the truth.
4. Language skills
Excellent writing skills, with outstanding grammar and punctuation are a must. You should be proficient at proofreading your own word before submitting it to your editor. Additional language skills such as a second or even third language could also serve you well in a global journalism career.
5. Energetic and passionate
Journalists often work in a fast-paced, rapidly changing environment, so they need to stay energetic to keep ahead of the news. Having a passion for current affairs and reporting will drive you throughout your busy days as you do research, conduct interviews, check sources, and follow up on leads. You’ll be tenacious about tracking down stories and facts, and not stopping until you get the job done.
Great journalists are always aware they’re dealing with real people and situations that affect people, so they maintain a level of empathy when researching and writing stories. You’ll stay respectful of feelings, especially when working with sources who might have experienced tragedy or challenging circumstances, even while you’re asking tough questions. Whether it’s an issue impacting the local community or a major event with wide-ranging impact, you stay aware of the perspective of everyone affected so you can report in the interests of the public good.
7. Ability to deal with controversial issues
Journalists often need to deal with controversial issues attracting disagreement, criticism, or even just strong feelings. Being tough enough and sufficiently confident in your role as an objective reporter will see you doing your job when it comes to controversial issues. In addition, you should be able to see issues from all sides so you can stay open-minded and impartial. Because your work is in the public sphere, you’ll need to be good at dealing with criticism and scrutiny.
8. Specialist knowledge
Specialist knowledge, such as industry or technical understanding, can propel you towards success in a specific field. For example, if you have a deep knowledge of technology, this can make you a highly effective researcher on current developments in consumer and industrial tech. Even if you lack specialist knowledge in an area, having an ability to grasp new concepts quickly can also be a big plus in journalism.
9. Tech and design skills
Beyond traditional journalism roles, skills like programming, graphic design and multimedia journalism, as well as community building are proving valuable for journalists. For example, if you have coding skills in addition to your journalism qualifications, you might be able to use multimedia visualisations to create interactive stories to tell stories in a more engaging way.
If you’re savvy with video editing and graphic design, you can enhance your words with spectacular visuals to engage readers. Community-building journalism or social journalism is another possibility, where you use social media, blogging, and other internet-based channels to interact with your community.
You might decide to work as an employee journalist for publications, or you could take advantage of the rich opportunities the new media landscape offers. Being entrepreneurial about ways in which you can contribute as a journalist and how you can deliver content can also be a vital quality helping you succeed.
Journalists are typically curious, analytical self-starters with a strong passion for telling the truth. To succeed in this field, you’ll have plenty of energy and drive and have the ability to deal with controversy and detail. Along with these qualities, a qualification in journalism could give you the edge you need to get started on an exciting new career in journalism.