Journalist Education Requirements and Career Information
Journalists analyze and interpret facts and information about local, national and international events and report them to the public. Most journalists participate in bachelor's degree programs to prepare for careers in either print or broadcast journalism.
Education Requirements for Journalists
Journalists, also referred to as reporters and correspondents, have bachelor's degrees in either communications or journalism. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 1,500 institutions in the U.S. offer these degree programs (www.bls.gov).
All journalism majors take courses in editing, journalistic ethics, reporting, feature writing, photojournalism and communications. Additional coursework is determined by whether a student is focusing on print or broadcast journalism. Students either take courses to strengthen their writing skills or to learn radio and television production techniques. Those concentrating in online media learn software and web design skills, as well as how to combine text with graphics, photo and video media. Undergraduate students also benefit from professional internships with media outlets, completed either during the summer or during the semester.
According to the BLS, many journalists begin their careers with smaller publications or broadcast networks, often as general assignment reporters assigned to news that is pertinent to that outlet's audience (www.bls.gov). As they gain experience and build a portfolio of reports, they are assigned to more difficult and in-depth stories.
After years of reporting, many journalists go on to become editors, producers, supervising reporters and even station managers and publishers. They may also have the opportunity to advance to larger networks and publications.
There are positions available in print (newspapers and magazines) and online media. Some journalists report on facts alone, while others, such as columnists, create content based on both facts and opinions. Journalists often specialize in certain fields, such as politics, entertainment, sports or weather.
Broadcast journalists may choose to be either newscasters or correspondents with radio and television news outlets. Newscasters are more commonly known as news anchors who present and introduce news packages. Correspondents conduct research and deliver news reports from the field.
The BLS lists the median annual wage of both reporters and correspondents at $34,530 as of May 2010. Employment in this field is expected to decline eight percent through the 2010-2020 decade, due to combining news organizations and the decrease in the number of newspaper readers. According to the BLS, employment prospects will be favorable with small local newspapers. The BLS also reports, however, that journalists with training or experience in online print and broadcast media can expect the best job opportunities in this highly competitive field.
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