What does a journalist do?
There are so many different jobs in journalism that it's almost impossible to list them all here. To give you an idea, these are some of the things that a journalist might be involved with:
- Researching stories. Broadcasting companies often employ people whose job is just to research stories and guests. All writers have to research before they can start writing.
- Writing news and feature stories. News stories are short and focus on telling you what's just happened – the most important thing first. Feature stories often need a topical 'peg' (or reason) for publication, but they're more in-depth and less rigidly structured. They might be interviews, travel reports, how-to articles or opinion columns.
- Take photographs. Multiskilling is becoming more and more a part of life in media, so photography is a useful skill for all writers to have. But some people work as photojournalists and use their pictures to tell the story with very few words.
- Edit stories. Subeditors concentrate on editing other people's work – they correct any grammar mistakes, sometimes write the headlines and make sure the publication has a consistent style. In many places subeditors are an endangered species and journalists are increasingly expected to get it right first time because there's no safety net.
- Check facts. Legend tells of a time when people were employed just to check the facts in submitted articles. That's rarely seen nowadays.
- Plan magazines. Editors are responsible for all the content in a magazine. As you move up the publishing hierarchy, you'll do less actual writing and more planning and management of other writers, subeditors and designers.
- Lay out pages. In smaller publishing companies, journalists might be expected to lay out pages as well as write them. For a long time, the standard application for layout was Quark XPress. Now Adobe InDesign is gaining in popularity. It's a valuable skill to be able to edit documents in layout applications.
This is an excerpt from the ebook 'Journalism Careers: Your questions answered' by Sean McManus. These excerpts have been chosen for their relevance to school students.The whole ebook includes advice on picking university courses, vocational training, and how to succeed as a freelancer. It's equally suitable for students planning their future career and mid-life career changers looking to make a move now.