Journalism is marked by a strong sense of professionalism due to the increase of unions and organizations supporting journalists, increased literature and knowledge, and education that specifically focuses on the practice of journalism. As a response to yellow journalism, or sensationalism, journalists have increasingly upheld a strict sense of personal responsibility and adhered to strong professional ethics.
Journalism courses steer students towards the discipline and skill of collecting and analyzing data. The ability to conduct research is crucial for anyone interested in the field. Research databases provide peer-reviewed sources for reputable information fit for print or broadcast. A baccalaureate degree is not a requirement, but is possessed by many successful journalists, and an advanced degree provides not only working knowledge, but certification. A school with an outstanding communications program should be on the list of considerations for any aspiring journalist. Writing for your school newspaper will help you form a solid skillset and provide you with the tools you need to succeed. It may also help you determine if this field is right for you.
Understanding how to write and edit good copy is an ability that will help you in every aspect of your career. Writing with consistency, adaptability, clarity, and relevance, while keeping the topic interesting to the reader, is fundamental in this field. A keen eye for editing is also crucial. Finding a specific area that you are passionate about will guide and fuel you, whether it is music journalism or science reporting. If you are considering broadcast journalism, the ability to comfortably interview people and be personable on-air will get you far. Many individuals in the broadcast arts start off with a radio show on their college campus. It is a wise decision to minor in the area you chose to specialize in. A great start is to practice writing every day and present it in an engaging manner, paying close attention to grammar and spelling.
Journalism is a very competitive field, it is important to nurture your own personal voice and stay true to it. Internships are a good choice to gain experience and you often can receive college credit while working. Building up your writing portfolio is a goal to focus on from the very beginning. Freelance writing online is a great way to add substance to your portfolio. A solid familiarity with computer software would be beneficial, you will be expected to use word processing programs, research information through databases, communicate via e-mail, and an understanding of social media.