A journalist’s job is to gather information, write news pieces, and present the news in an honest and balanced manner. In addition to investigating and reporting on current events, they also work on articles and features that update and influence public opinion.
Journalism has various different avenues for you to make a career out of. There is print journalism, which is basically writing news pieces for magazines and newspapers. There is TV news, where a person’s charisma and people skills, along with her emotional intelligence, are the most important factors when hiring a person.
Of late, digital journalism is also on the boom; partly because of the drop in quality of traditional TV news. Organizations such as ScoopWhoop, Quint and Vice are the leading names in this sector. Journalism is a career that is never going to die, and it’s demand is increasing day-by-day, specially due to the rise of online news portals who require competent news reporters and presenters.
Salary of a Journalist in India
Starting salary ~ 35,000 rupees per month. Growth overtime is good monetarily speaking; enough to live a comfortable life. But if you are only chasing money, this is not the career for you.
Job Profile (A Day in the life of a Journalist)
There are no fixed hours in journalism. This not a job where you are going to start at 9’o clock and be done by 5:30. You’re always on the clock in this line of work. Casually scrolling Twitter at the end of day can lead to a story idea; someone can DM you a lead while you’re taking a dump.
What would you actually do? Read, think and write. Also, talking to experts in order to cultivate your own thinking is fundamental. What people generally don’t correlate with journalism is that journalists have to write lots of emails to pitch ideas. Lots and lots of emails, and most ideas don’t really come to fruition.
You should be comfortable with using Google Search, MS Word, and Email (but if you are reading this, I assume you can do all three). Photography is a plus. Successful photojournalists get paid a lot.
Social media, video editing, coding, data analysis, etc are also bonus-skills, that is knowing these things gives you an edge over other journalism aspirants. If you are inclined towards print journalism, make sure that your writing skills are top-notch.
If you want to work in the TV/Digital sector, make sure that you are not a boring person to watch; that you won’t put the viewers to sleep. Also, be ready for a lot of field work, especially in the beginning of your career. Growth isn’t super-fast in this line, and it would take you years become you become an editor-in-chief. However, promotion to content head level can happen in just a few years.
Yes, a degree is required. Go for either of these – Bachelor’s of Media Studies/Bachelor’s of English (Hons)/BJMC
One thing to love about being a Journalist
“I read and write for a living. I learn new, interesting things every day.”
One thing to hate about being a Journalist
“The burden of knowledge is heavy. Knowing too much makes it hard to interact socially with people who know less. Also, too much time on screen, too much digital consumption of information.”
Some of the top journalism colleges and universities in the country are – Symbiosis, Xavier’s, DU (although very few colleges offer journalism), and Christ University.
Resources and Tips
- Subscribe to r/Journalism on Reddit to know more about the technical aspect of things.
- The Art and Craft of Feature Writing: Based on The Wall Street Journal Guide Book by William E. Blundell – Read this. You will thank me later.
- Read as much as you can, and as diversely as you can. Subscribe to the online versions of reputed newspapers and try to analyze their craft.
- Read Stephen King’s “On Writing” to get a better understanding of the craft of writing in general.
- If you want to go into the TV/Digital space, develop a likeable personality. Although no book would teach you this, read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie if you are extremely socially awkward.
Step-by-step guide to become a Journalist
- Take any stream you want in class 11th.
- Score good marks in class 12th and get an undergraduate degree in mass communication or English Literature.
- Read a lot of non-fiction books by famous writers. (You will find many lists on Goodreads).
- Learning the art of writing from famous columns and magazines.
- Knowledge of regional politics of India is a must, so start reading up on that. If you can, start freelancing from college itself so that you are able to already develop a portfolio before looking for a job.
- Develop people skills; you would need them a lot in this profession.
- Sit for campus placements, and start browsing LinkedIn for “Journalist” jobs. You got this!