Journalists are truth-seekers. They are objective, accurate and fair. They provide breaking news online, in print or on television. They also share feature stories on people, places or things of interest to the public. Most of all, journalists see their names in print. If a journalism career is your goal, it helps to understand what skills and steps are needed to stand out in a competitive field, and how to write a great journalism resume.
Breaking Into Journalism
Breaking into journalism involves knowing the type of beat you want to pursue. A “beat” is the topic you want cover every day. It is your area of expertise. Journalism has different beats such as general news, features, politics, entertainment and real estate. Many beats require you to have extensive knowledge in the field. For instance, a political journalist must know the ins and outs of politics plus local, state or federal government.
General news is the only exception. It is a beat that requires you to cover any breaking news such as a shooting, earthquake or social gathering whenever news breaks. If you are interested in this beat, you need basic journalism skills rather than specific knowledge because you are covering every news event.
Decide what type of journalism you want to pursue. Journalism is separated into two categories: print and broadcast. Print includes:
• Online publications
Broadcast journalism is radio and TV news organizations. You can work on-air or behind the scenes such as a producer or writer.
Experience is another thing you need to break into the news field. The best way to gain experience is not by getting a journalism, but getting clips. In fact, you need clips to make your resume stand out in a competitive job field. The term “clips” refer to examples of your work such as news or feature articles. Journalism employers want to see that you can do the job. Clips are the only way for prospective journalism employers to separate you from the rest of the candidates. That is why these clips must be your best work. Approximately three to five clips are sent along with your resume.
If you have no clips, all is not lost. Most undergraduate students work on the college newspapers to obtain clips. If you already have a four-year degree and want to obtain clips, you have plenty of options. For instance, many local and free publications are always looking for articles to print. Radio, newspapers, online publications and news stations offer paid and unpaid internships.
The minimum educational requirement for a journalism job is a four-year degree. The majority of journalism editors will set aside any resume that does not include a bachelor’s degree in the education section. Many college students seeking a journalism job must apply about three months prior to graduation. Journalism employers are looking for someone to start working immediately and not six months to a year later.
The traditional majors for aspiring journalists include journalism and communications.
Some journalism employers will hire you if you have a four-year degree in a related subject, such as political science or English.
If you are seeking a second career and choose journalism, you can return to school for a graduate degree in journalism. This way you learn journalism skills, obtain training in the field and create clips to use later. A graduate in journalism takes about one year to complete.
Leave all opinions at the newsroom door and focus on the facts. This is one of the skills needed to stand out from other journalism candidates.
Quality skills needed to standout in the journalism world includes:
• Persistence: Getting the story is difficult and involves some rejection. You have to keep going to complete your story.
• Strong writing skills: Reporters must have strong writing skills and be able to convey facts to readers, listeners or viewers.
• Stamina: Journalism is a fast paced, exhausting job. You must be able to keep up with all stories due that week and work any additional hours.
• Interpersonal skills: You must have people skills. These skills will help you develop contacts, called sources, conduct interviews and work well with your colleagues.
Entering the Playing Field
Journalism is separated into markets. The large markets are the most noticeable news stations and big newspapers with higher pay. No one starts in a large market. Journalism involves working in a small market and working your way into a larger market. Depending on your goals and experience, it can take five to ten years to break into a larger market.
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