A journalist collects information in the form of text, audio, or pictures and disseminates it to the public through websites, newspapers, magazines, radio, or television. In this post, you will learn how to become a journalist.
You will also learn the difference between Journalists and Reporters, how much journalists earn in a month, how much they earn in a year, and lots more.
What's in this guide?
Who is a journalist?
According to the American Press Institute, journalism is the activity of collecting, assessing, creating, and disseminating news and information. It is also the product of these activities.
A journalist is a professional in the media industry that collects information in the form of text, audio, or pictures and disseminates it to the public. They are storytellers, as they write and report news stories on everything happening in their domain.
This can range from social problems, politics, education, economy, sports, science and tech, entertainment, fashion, and lots more. Note that journalists only report and present real facts, and they don’t present fictional stories.
What is the difference between a Journalist and a Reporter?
Before we go on explaining, we’ll like to make something clear:
“A Journalist can also be a reporter but not all reporters need to be journalists.”
Journalism in a nutshell
A journalist is a professional who researches current events in the world. He/she collects information and disseminates it to the public. Journalism has multiple career opportunities that professionals can specialize in.
Journalists can choose a specialty that permits them to be writers, TV reporters, photojournalists, video journalists, etc. Each of these specialties has a medium to get and deliver stories.
Reporting in a nutshell
While journalists look for and prepare news, a reporter is a professional that shares it on newspapers, radio, television, magazines, and websites. Reporters ensure that the audience can understand the news.
Imagine a layman listening to news that talks about a recent development in the power sector. While the journalist will do his/her best to describe the incident to look alive as possible, the reporter will rephrase it in a way that all audiences will understand.
The people, voices, and faces you hear and see on TV, radio, newspapers, etc are all reporters. But don’t forget that a journalist can also be a reporter, as long as he/she knows how to communicate.
Rounding up: Journalists focus on news collection and creation while Reporters focus on communication and understanding.
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How to become a Journalist in 5 steps
While the journey to becoming a journalist may vary depending on your country of residence, it still follows the same system and academic requirements.
1. Prepare for your journalism career in high school (or secondary school)
- Commerce, etc
During your high school education, you’ll have the option to study in one of these departments. Your choice will determine whether you will study chemistry or literature, physics or history, etc.
You should choose the Art department, as it consists of subjects/curriculum that will prepare you for a career in journalism. While in high school, you should research, write, and report info whenever you can. Although not compulsory, it will widen your knowledge.
2. Earn a bachelor’s degree in journalism
Although you may decide not to attend a university, most of your colleagues will do and they will obtain a bachelor’s degree in journalism, thereby reducing your chances of landing a good job.
You should also attend a journalism school (if applicable to your country). From there, you will learn the primary activities in journalism, including but not limited to research, interviews, and reporting.
You may also learn how to write for newspapers, a few things about broadcasting, how to go about website journalism, and lots more.
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3. Work as an intern
It is important that you work as an intern before or after graduating from a tertiary institution. An internship will let you practice everything you know in a professional workplace/setting.
Your lecturers will only teach you how to do journalism theoretically, but your internship will let you know how it’s done in the real world.
You may not get any monetary reward, and even if you do, it will be equivalent to how much work you’ll be doing. But take joy, as many internships lead to long-term job opportunities (aside from the lessons and additional work experience).
4. Start entry-level journalism jobs
Stop right there. No one cares whether you graduated from Oxford, Cambridge, or a smaller university. Unless you have some influence within the industry, you’ll probably start your journalism career with a low job position (just like everyone else).
These entry-level journalism jobs will help you build your resume and portfolio while helping you scale to the top. In the beginning, the pay won’t be encouraging, but it will yield more opportunities.
And by the way, journalism is fun. You will be exposed to interesting fieldwork that reporters don’t get to do.
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5. Advance your career
After obtaining your first degree, doing internships, and working entry-level journalism jobs for a few years, you can start scaling up your career. You can apply to the newspaper, radio, and TV stations dominating your region and hopefully land a high-paying job there.
You can also apply to be a writer, photojournalist, news editor, correspondent or reporter. Whatever thing you want to be in the journalism field, now’s the time for it.
Job opportunities within the journalism field
As a journalist, you can cover specific or multiple subjects. Here are a few of them:
- Local news
- Global events
- Outdoors and recreation
You can work for:
- Television stations
- Cable news outlets
- Radio stations
Entry-level job opportunities in journalism
- Advertising Account Executive
- Media Buyer
- Court Reporter
- Interactive Media Consultant
- Information Resource Analyst
- Communications Technologist
- Teacher or lecturer
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How much do journalists earn in a month?
According to Salary Explorer, the average monthly salary of a journalist in Nigeria is NGN 372,000 per month. Salaries range from NGN 190,000 (lowest) to NGN 573,000 (highest).
According to Indeed, the average salary of a journalist in the United States is USD 47,770 per year.
According to Canada Talent, the average salary of a journalist in Canada is CAD 40,219 per year.
What type of journalists get paid the most?
Generally, senior-level reporters, correspondents, and news analysts have the potential to make the most money from their journalism careers. Here are 10 other lucrative jobs within the journalism field.
- Content writer
- News editor
- News producer
- Social media planner
- Public relations specialist
- Communications manager
- Product marketing manager
- Corporate communications specialist