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How to Become A Journalist?

As a high school junior, I've been thinking more and more about what I want to be when I grow up, and automatically, I knew that I wanted to do something with English. After looking at some of the careers and professions, I came across journalism and think it's great for me! However, one problem: I have no idea how to go about becoming one! It's hard to want to become something when, unfortunately, there's a limited amount of people I can ask at school or at home. It would be awesome if anyone would provide some details.

#journalism #english

Thank you comment icon Does your school have journalism courses that you can take? If not, maybe join the school paper because it can give you exposure to how journalism works, even if its small in comparison to what you want to pursue. Luis

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5 answers

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Sam’s Answer

Hello Mia,

You would need to go to college and major in Journalism. The University of Minnesota seems to have a pretty good website devoted to Journalism.

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Kathleen’s Answer

Hi Mia,

I’ve had a long journalism career and it has been very rewarding, but it doesn’t just “happen.” You should consider school activities now that can help you decide if it’s really what you want to do.

Are you participating in the school newspaper? If there are other students at your school also interested in journalism, perhaps your teacher can organize a field trip to a local News station or newspaper? Or get a local reporter to come speak to students?

During my four years in high school, I was able to get a first-hand look at several professions, including: veterinarian, working in dentistry, and jobs at banks.

Getting an insider look at a profession can provide you essential insight on what it’s like to work in that field.

Some questions for you:

  • Why journalism?
  • What do you already know about it?
  • What exactly do you aspire to do in the industry? Be a reporter? Be a camera operator? A news producer? A copy editor? Or part of the production crew as a video editor or director? Or maybe you prefer print journalism instead (online, newspapers, magazine). There are many, many possibilities to consider.

What traits/skills/talents do you have that you believe are an asset in a journalism career?

I can tell you that there are basic classes I took in grade school that have been essential in my career, especially when working as a copy editor, namely: spelling, grammar — two things that are too often ignored in schools today.

Other grade school and high school classes and exercises that served me well on the editorial side: a love of history and science and sports, knowing how to do excellent research; my art classes and love of photography also gave me an eye for visuals and composition.

Know that a career in journalism is extremely competitive, so if you pursue it make sure you’ve taken the college courses and participated in the activities that will set you apart from others:

  • Work at the college newspaper, the college radio station, or TV channel (if they have one)
  • Make sure you participate in an internship! (Two if possible; in most cases you cannot participate until your junior year in college, at the earliest)
  • Learn and be curious about all the types of jobs that are available in journalism. For example, I know a number of people who have had successful careers as news directors and field camera operators, art teams (working with computer graphics), and even online-only .com positions (writers, editors, webmasters).

One thing I can definitely tell you is this: in journalism, even with a college degree, you will start at the bottom and work your way up. Be prepared for that. Also be prepared to work weekends, holidays and overnights in your career because - like police and fire departments, the military, and hospitals - there are always teams on-duty or on call because things happen 24/7.

Hope this helps!

Kathleen recommends the following next steps:

Why journalism?? You mention in your question that you “came across” it. You need to do much more than that. Research the types of job opportunities available in the industry and what the average salaries are. What technical skills are needed? How competitive is it? Also ask, what are the drawbacks and what skills do you lack that you might be able to acquire?
Get involved in high school activities like your school newspaper
Hone your skills and knowledge at the basics: spelling, grammar, research - even topics like history, geography and science
Research the wide variety of job roles that exist in journalism - are there some that hold more interest than others? Find out what you need to do and study to prepare.
Make sure you talk to and learn from people who are already in the industry. Find out what they like about their job - and what they don’t like. Ask them, as well, what advice they would provide a student considering the industry for a career.
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Ghaneem’s Answer

To become a journalist you must study and get a Bachelor's Degree in journalism. Also, you need to improve your writing skill by writing content. It doesn't have to be for a publishing house, but it must be professional. Another thing you should take care of is your specialty topics.

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Kruti’s Answer

For high school students working on a school newspaper or producing editorial content for a local newspaper is a good way to get started and build your portfolio and network of contacts. Be sure to check for any local or state regulations on teen labor.
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Sheila’s Answer

Hi Mia:

News analysts, reporters, and journalists keep the public updated about current events and noteworthy information. They report international, national, and local news for newspapers, magazines, websites, television, and radio.

Typically, a journalist will need a bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications, or a related field, such as English. Bachelor’s degree programs in journalism and communications include courses in journalistic ethics and techniques for researching topics and conducting interviews. Some programs may require students to study liberal arts subjects, such as history and economics, to prepare for covering a range of topics. Students may further specialize in the type of journalism they wish to pursue, such as print or broadcast.

Journalism students may benefit from courses in multimedia design, coding, and programming to be able to develop content that includes video, audio, data, and graphics. . . I hope this was helpful as you get your research off the ground. Best of luck to you on your journey.

Sheila recommends the following next steps:

How to Become a Journalist •