Careers in Journalism
Journalists provide information to the public about current events and special topics and may write for newspapers, magazines or websites, or broadcast on radio or television. Check out the chart below to compare three of the most common careers within the field of journalism: reporter, announcer and editor.
|Career Overview||Reporters conduct interviews, perform research and write articles or broadcasts to keep the public informed.||Announcers deliver information and provide commentary on television and radio.||Editors oversee content, manage others and re-write content for magazines, newspapers and the Internet.|
|Education Requirements||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree|
|Program Length||4 years, full time||4 years, full time||4 years, full time|
|Experience Requirement||Internship or school publication experience||Experience at college TV or radio station preferred||Experience as a journalist or writer may be required|
|Job Outlook for 2012-2022||Moderate decline (-14%)*||Little to no change (2%)*||Little to no change (-2%)*|
|Mean Salary (2014)||Nearly $46,000*||Nearly $43,000*||More than $64,000*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Reporters work for news organizations and publications, collecting information through interviews, research and investigation. They report their findings to the public using print and digital media. They must meet deadlines and follow up on their stories. Reporters typically work in the field, so settings can vary based on assignments. International or domestic travel may be necessary.
A bachelor's degree is typically required to obtain a reporting position, according to the BLS. Applicable majors include journalism and communications. Coursework for these majors may cover writing, reporting and ethics. Journalism students may also take classes covering a broad range of liberal arts classes, such as history or political science, in order to prepare them for reporting on various topics. The BLS also stated that employers typically look for candidates with professional experience. Working on college newspapers and obtaining internships are good ways to gain hands-on training and build a portfolio.
The following job postings outline what some employers sought in November 2012:
- An online law publication in New York City advertised for an experienced reporter with a journalism degree and an interest in law and business to write and post articles covering industry topics and the latest legal news.
- A Tennessee newspaper sought a reporter with a journalism degree, online and daily newspaper experience and a keen news sense.
- A New York newspaper was looking for an aggressive reporter with good news judgment, strong reporting and writing abilities and photography and video skills.
As the online media trend increases, and publications either move to online formats or add online components, individuals with multimedia skills may better their chances of getting hired. Some bachelor's programs in journalism have strong online components where students can learn about interactive media, writing and editing for multimedia platforms, podcasts and digital media files. Additionally, learning related skills, such as video and photography, can diversify candidates' capabilities, and make them more attractive to employers.
Reporters often specialize in a specific field, such as sports, business, health or politics. Acquiring expertise in a chosen field can be done by adding a minor to the degree program. Alternatively, the BLS reported that some employers hire reporters with bachelor's degrees in their specialty fields.
Announcers work in television and radio and have a wide range of responsibilities both on- and off-air. Off-the-air, they may conduct research, pre-record commentary or interviews, edit content and format broadcasts. On-the-air, announcers deliver commentary on a variety of topics that commonly include news, sports and entertainment. They may read scripts, interview guests or host events. Announcers typically work in studios, but they may spend some time in the field. Hours vary and may be unusual to accommodate stations that broadcast around the clock.
Employers typically require television and radio announcers to have bachelor's degrees in communications or journalism. Many schools also offer majors or specializations in broadcasting; students in broadcasting programs learn about speech, articulation, delivery and equipment operation.
In November 2012, some employers were looking for the following:
- A radio company in Pennsylvania hired for a copy writer/announcer with on-air skills and social media knowledge to create, edit and read commercial copy on air.
- In Montana, a media company with multiple radio stations sought an announcer/board operator with a postsecondary education in radio/television to operate equipment and meet several deadlines in short time periods.
- A Mississippi broadcasting company wanted an experienced announcer/producer with a bachelor's degree or extensive relevant work experience and digital editing and reporting skills to cover local news.
While earning their bachelor's degrees, students can seek out opportunities to work at their college's broadcasting station. Also, acquiring multiple internships at both radio and television stations can provide a broad range of hands-on training in professional settings.
Since competition for radio and television announcer positions may be significant, candidates can set themselves apart by acquiring complementary skills. Announcers who can also work broadcast equipment may give themselves an edge, and keeping up with the latest technologies or social media trends can also prove beneficial. Internet radio is growing and may provide employment opportunities. By following current trends in radio, television and internet broadcasting, you may be able to find a position in an up-and-coming format.
Editors can find employment opportunities with book publishers, newspaper and magazine companies and online media organizations. There are many types of editors, and job duties vary for each type. Generally, editors proofread articles for proper syntax and ensure facts are accurate. They may guide or assist writers with research or develop story ideas, and assist with layout. Many editors work long hours while under the pressure of meeting strict deadlines.
An editor typically needs a bachelor's degree in a field such as English or journalism, according to the BLS. However, an editor that works with a certain subject may also need expertise in that area. Many of an editor's duties are done using computers and various software programs, so familiarity with publishing-specific technology is necessary. Editors typically start out as writers or reporters, and strong writing skills are commonly required.
Below are some examples of what employers were looking for in November 2012:
- A media company in Missouri sought an editor with writing, editing, photography, page design and online experience who could oversee a newsroom and attract readers through social media.
- In Texas, a weekly newspaper advertised for an experienced assistant editor to develop stories and work with the news team to report on local issues.
- A Washington community newspaper sought an experienced editor with writing, editing, pagination, photography and InDesign or Quark Express knowledge and interests in politics and current events.
One way to stand out as an editing candidate is to gain writing, reporting or editing experience while attending school. Working for a college newspaper or a local publication can teach valuable skills. You can also develop related skills in areas such as layout design and digital publishing. Since magazines and newspapers are increasing their online presence, it can be helpful to have a strong knowledge of social media and online platforms.