Cyberjournalist Careers: Salary Information & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a cyberjournalist career? Get real job descriptions, career outlook and salary info to see if becoming a cyberjournalist is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being a Cyberjournalist

A cyberjournalist, also known as an online, Internet, or Web journalist, can be a rewarding career for anyone who loves writing and enjoys working independently. Take a look at the pros and cons of becoming a cyberjournalist below to decide if this career is a good match.

Pros of a Cyberjournalist Career
Best opportunities for employment are currently with online newspapers and magazines*
Can work from home or anywhere with an Internet connection*
Witness a variety of events*
Opportunity to travel*

Cons of a Cyberjournalist Career
No set hours; hours can be long, irregular and involve nights, weekends and holidays*
Lack of employer benefits; 16% of journalists work freelance*
Strict deadlines can be stressful*
Many employers require a minimum of a 4-year degree*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Info

Online journalists perform the same tasks as print journalists; both have to be well-versed in newspaper or magazine writing format and have a working knowledge of programs used for word processing and publication. Some journalists write about breaking news, while others specialize in areas such as politics, science, foreign affairs, sports, arts, entertainment, crime, religion or education.

Job Description and Duties

You'll use facts, quotes and other collected information to form a well-organized article that can be read on an electronic format. Depending on your employer, you may also have additional tasks, such as attending concerts, sports events, plays or taking photos to accompany a story. You'll need fast and accurate typing skills in order to complete and submit stories quickly for publication.

Salary and Job Growth

While there is no specific salary information available for online journalists, the mean annual salary for reporters and correspondents in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), was around $45,800. Salaries can vary depending on experience, education and employer. BLS statistics for 2014 showed annual salaries ranging from as little as $21,000 a year for the lower ten percent of journalists to $81,000 or more for journalists in the top ten percent.

While the overall job growth for journalists was expected to decline by 8% between 2014 and 2024, there would be an increase in the demand for online news as more people turn to Internet outlets. Competition would be greatest for journalists looking to work in large metropolitan areas and for those seeking employment with national news outlets.

Education Requirements and Skills

While there are no specific education requirements for an online journalist, most employers prefer you to have at least a 4-year degree, preferably in journalism or a similar field. Coursework in a journalism program can include news writing, news editing, interviewing and reporting, as well as electives such as digital photography, digital editing, desktop publishing and computer graphics.

Top Skills for Online Journalists

Employers often look for talent, skill and experience rather than education credentials. Here are some of the specific skills employers are looking for:

  • Excellent communication skills: oral, written and listening
  • Solid research and investigation skills
  • Good memory for details
  • Expert computer and Internet skills

Actual Job Postings from Real Employers

As an online journalist, you can often work from anywhere; although some employers may prefer journalists who live in certain locations. You'll communicate with employers through email, Skype, instant messaging or by phone. Work is typically submitted electronically through different ways, such as email attachment, direct posting on a website or through a content management system. Below are a few real job postings from a national journalism job board posted in March 2012:

  • An international newspaper company was looking for freelance journalists who lived outside of the United States to write about current real estate events. Qualified candidates would need previous journalist experience and good research, communication and reporting skills.
  • A news outlet service sought a freelance reporter to cover at least one major story per day. Candidates needed good Internet, computer and communication skills and be able to independently write a news report. Some college education was preferred.
  • An Arizona company was looking for a freelance entertainment writer for an online women's magazine. Requirements included journalism experience, as well as extensive research, reporting and writing skills. The preferred candidate would have photo editing experience.

How Can I Stand Out?

Because journalism is so competitive, getting experience writing and learning skills used in journalism are some of the best ways to get ahead. You can get a head start while still in school by participating in extracurricular activities related to journalism, such as writing or taking pictures for the school newspaper, working with the yearbook or getting a summer internship with a local media outlet.

Develop Related Skills

With today's technology, developing computer-related skills is essential to the success of all journalists. Becoming proficient in various office programs, as well as developing photography skills and learning how to utilize photo editing software can aid your career. Staying current with social media outlets and Internet forums can help you network within the writing community. Blogging is another way to showcase your writing talents in an online format.

Alternative Careers to Consider

If the tough competition in cyberjournalism outweighs the pros of an online journalism career, you can still continue writing or working within the fields of media and communications. Similar careers can include producing web content, editing and public relations.

Author and Writer

While a journalist's work is typically limited to current news, writers are needed across many different fields. Fiction and non-fiction stories, articles or books for needed for websites and electronic reading formats. Writers are also needed for copywriting, grant writing, technical writing and article writing for online or traditional trade publications, magazines and journals. The annual mean salary for authors and writers in 2011 was slightly over $68,000, according to the BLS.

Editor

An editor is the person who reviews and revises written content. Editing requires good written communication skills and expert knowledge of grammar and usage rules. An editor's hours can vary depending on publication deadlines; editors may work late nights, weekends and holidays to get an article ready for publication after it has been submitted by the writer. Experience is important in this profession; employers often want editors with an educational background in writing and previous writing experience. According to the BLS, the mean annual salary for editors in 2011 was around $60,000.

Public Relations Specialist

Public relations specialists manage the public image of their employer, which can include issuing press releases, writing speeches, contacting the media or arranging meetings with publishers or producers. A 4-year degree in media, communications or public relations is required by most employers. According to the BLS, the employment outlook is expected to be higher than average for this career in the 2010-2020 decade, but the field will be highly competitive because of the demand for public relation positions from a high number of qualified candidates. The mean annual salary for the public relations specialists in 2011 was around $60,000, according to the BLS.

Popular Schools

  • Campus and Online Programs
    1. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. - New Media Journalism
      • Master of Fine Arts - Media Design
      • Master of Fine Arts - Creative Writing
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
      • BS - Media Communications (Campus)
      • BS - Sportscasting
      • B.S. - Sports Marketing and Media
      • Bachelor of Fine Arts - Creative Writing for Entertainment
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Communication
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Journalism
      • Master of Arts in Communication
      • Master of Arts in Communication - Political Communication
      • Master of Arts in Communication - Strategic Communication
      • Master of Arts in Government - Political Communication
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Advertising and Public Relations
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Rhetoric and Public Culture
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Strategic Communication
      • Bachelor of Arts in English - Communication
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Communication Studies
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Communication
      • Master of Arts in Science Writing
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Queens University of Charlotte

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Communication - General
      • Master of Arts in Communication - Integrated Digital Strategy Concentration
      • Master of Arts in Communication - Undecided
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Colorado Christian University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Communication Studies, B.A.
    Associate's
      • Communication Studies, A.A.
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • HS Diploma
  • Online Programs Available
    9. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
      • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Penn Foster

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Career Diploma - Freelance Writer

Featured Schools

Full Sail University

  • M.S. - New Media Journalism
  • Master of Fine Arts - Media Design
  • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
  • BS - Media Communications (Campus)

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Communication

What is your highest level of education?

Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Journalism
  • Master of Arts in Communication
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Advertising and Public Relations

What is your highest level of education completed?

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Arts in Communication
  • Master of Arts in Science Writing

What is your highest level of education?

Queens University of Charlotte

  • Master of Arts in Communication - General
  • Master of Arts in Communication - Integrated Digital Strategy Concentration
  • Master of Arts in Communication - Undecided

What is your highest level of education completed?

Colorado Christian University

  • Communication Studies, B.A.
  • Communication Studies, A.A.

What is your highest level of education completed?

Penn Foster High School

  • HS Diploma

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