Journalist, What Is It Like? (Solved & Explained)

For most journalists, the passion for writing and the desire for storytelling is the reason why they joined this profession.

Being a journalist is also a well-respected career, playing an important role in society.  It’s one of those professions that have been around for centuries.

So what is it like being a journalist?

Every day is different for a journalist. Meeting new people and reporting on a variety of subjects ranging from social issues to sports and entertainment. A typical day consists of researching, preparing an outline, writing, editing, and gathering graphics for the next edition. With deadlines to meet and stories to write, journalism can be a difficult and stressful profession. Journalism can also be very rewarding, especially when it comes to breaking news stories that educate viewers.

So now I have answered the main question, let’s uncover the most common questions people have around being a journalist.

What exactly do journalists do?

The role of a journalist is to tell a story either by gathering information then writing it for magazines, newspapers, online, radio, or television.

Range of news stories a journalist can report on ranges from political, economic, social to sport, and entertainment.

Journalists spend a large portion of their time collecting information, interviewing, writing, reporting on new stories.

Interesting being a journalist?

Yes, being a journalist is very interesting. Every day is different and that’s what makes it interesting.

Journalists get involved in researching and reporting on some interesting subjects, including meeting and interviewing really interesting people.

Sometimes famous people, other times it could be a policeman, truck driver, passer-by, a politician, it just depends on the story.

The topics can also vary, this makes being a journalist interesting. Topics can range from sport, science, economics, politics, sport, and entertainment.

Is it worth being a journalist?

Yes, it is worth being a journalist as you get to learn about a lot of different topics and meet new people every day. It can also be highly rewarding when working on exciting news stories.

There’s also a great sense of satisfaction when you can break a news story that would otherwise not be heard.

Being a journalist you have both the responsibility and privilege of educating the public with news stories.

You do need to be comfortable with writing and presenting. To be a journalist you also need to be prepared to work under pressure to meet deadlines.

This might mean working long hours to achieve deadlines.

With any profession, however, there are some downsides. Having your name out in the public space can lead to online bullying, online stalking, and shaming.

Being a journalist can be dangerous. Sadly, Journalists do face intimidation and violence for just doing their job.

In extreme cases they are confronted with being kidnapped, forced detention, tortured and even being murdered.

How many hours does a journalist work a day?

The number of hours a journalist work is typically 8 hours, however, this can vary depending on the organization and what the journalist of working on.

A journalist can be required to work during a weekend and be on call for nighttime duties.

Is it hard getting a journalism job?

Yes, getting a job in journalism is difficult. With publishers having to cut costs due to declining advertising revenues,  the traditional level entry journalist roles have disappeared.

The decline in revenue has also led to a decline in journalist roles, with many news organizations reducing the size of their workforce.

Whilst getting a job is not easy, it is not impossible. Just means with fewer roles it will far more competitive than landing a journalism role.

With any role having connections helps. If there is someone in an organization that can help you “get a foot in the door” that can make the difference in landing a journalist role.

With the decline in roles, there has also been a decline in wages.  The average base wage in the USA is around $44k per annum.

How can I become a journalist?

To become a journalist the traditional path is to obtain a degree in journalism or a major in journalism.

Followed by an entry-level role at a radio station, digital publishing outlet, newspaper, magazine, or other print media.

To become a journalist you do require excellent writing skills and presentation skills if you are wanting to be on radio or television.

You can sharpen your writing skills by studying short courses on Udemy. There are courses on Udemy that designed for the media.

Such as “News Writing Fundamentals: Journalism 101” or “How to write great journalistic copy”.

Is a degree required to become a journalist?

Having a journalist degree is not mandatory in landing a journalism job but it does help.  A degree in journalism does help though, as it provides skills and knowledge to become a journalist.

It also sends a signal to prospective employers that you are committed to pursuing a career in journalism.

If you are not wanting to spend 3 years studying at college you can always study journalism online at a fraction of the cost.

For instance, searching the word “journalism” on Udemy came up with 137 results. The subjects ranged from Journalism foundations to more advanced journalism training courses.

The cost of these courses ranges between $12 – $20 per course. Some courses are offered for free.

If you are wanting a certificate after course completion, some of these courses do offer certification, others do not.  So it’s best to check before you sign up for the course.

If you are not wanting to sign up for a course, another option is YouTube.  There are media and journalism training videos on offer.

Being a journalist stressful?

The role of a journalist is one of the most stressful jobs going around.  In a fast-paced environment, journalists have to deal with deadlines, demanding editors, and the pressure of coming up with headlines and stories

Is journalism dead?

Journalism is not necessarily dying. It’s just going through a prolonged, period of change due to a fundamental shift in the ways audiences consume their news.

Journalism like any profession evolves.

Journalism has evolved from ancient Rome to Town criers through to print newspapers, television, radio, and now electronic media. 

Final Thoughts

If you enjoy storytelling, writing, or presenting, and want a varied, interesting career that can make a difference then being a journalist is a worthy career choice.

As with any other profession, analyze yourself and understand your strengths and weaknesses before deciding on which job or career you want to choose.

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