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How to Become a Journalist: Journalism Career Path

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Apr 13, 2020 • 3 min read

Journalism is a necessary but competitive field with a variety of options available for study. You could become a sports journalist, a political journalist, an entertainment journalist, or find careers in investigative journalism or broadcast journalism. If there’s a particular subject arena you’re passionate about or think you have a keen eye for, it could potentially lead you down a successful journalism career path.

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What Is a Journalist?

A journalist is someone who writes about breaking news, interesting people or places, trends, or current events for radio stations, digital publishing outlets, newspapers, magazines, and other print media. They are responsible for generating story ideas and reporting on topics that are of interest to the public and delivering that information in a well-written and easily digestible way. A journalist is a trusted source of unbiased information and should distribute information to their audiences in an efficient and truthful way.

What Does a Journalist Do?

Journalists work to report on newsworthy or interesting events using facts. A journalist is curious, asks questions, and is on a constant search for truths—including emotional ones. They must do research, check and vet sources, follow-up open-ended avenues, and use any other tools at their disposal in order to curate the most accurate and interesting story possible.

How to Become a Journalist

Whether your medium is broadcast, print, or digital journalism, there are a few steps any aspiring journalist can follow to bolster their chances of becoming a professional in their chosen field:

  1. Earn a degree. A journalism degree may not have a mandatory educational requirement, but it can certainly increase your chances with potential employers in the field of journalism. Journalism programs are a great way to learn the fundamentals of the job early on. A degree from a bachelor’s degree program at an accredited journalism school shows practical knowledge and skills, which signals to employers that you are well prepared for the job, and serious about it as a full-time career. Those who aren’t journalism majors may be creative writing or communication studies students before pursuing a career as a journalist.
  2. Find an internship. Gaining experience is the best way to prove you know how to do the job. Try to land an internship at a newsroom, magazine publisher, or other media company. Learn as much as you can from the professional journalists and qualified individuals around you to best prepare yourself for the job ahead. An internship is a foot in the door that could lead to valuable resources or connections in the future. If you have any experience writing for your high school or college school newspaper, be sure to include that in your resume as it may help you land a coveted internship position.
  3. Develop your writing skills. Blogging or becoming a freelance writer for news organizations or other media outlets is another way to gain experience. Write about things that grab people’s attention, and show your ability to find a story at the heart of any event. This can help you build your resume and potentially land you an entry-level job that will help you on your way to a career in journalism.
  4. Network. Establish connections with editors, news reporters, and other journalists in related fields. These people can impart any of their prior experiences and helpful advice to you while you work your way towards becoming a professional journalist. Make your in-roads with the people you share your industry with and become familiar with who they are and what they do. The larger your network grows, the more likely your name will come to mind as a reference.
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Become a better reporter with the MasterClass All-Access Pass. Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by award-winning journalists, including Bob Woodward, Malcolm Gladwell, and more.

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