Journalism and mass communication are among the most creative and lucrative fields in the modern job market. We are living in a time when the media has become an integral part of our lives. Naturally, more and more young people are looking to pursue a career in journalism.
Finding the correct information and guidance at this defining juncture is difficult, as is the decision of choosing the befitting career path for yourself. So, here is an overview of all that you need to know about a career in journalism!
Why Choose Journalism?
Before we delve into the skills and job profiles, let us first examine why journalistic profiles are gaining ground among students and professionals. Upon looking closely, one comes across multiple reasons to enter this domain besides the attractive job titles and salary packages.
The media is often referred to as the ‘fourth pillar of democracy.’ It focuses on gathering accurate and relevant information and communicating the same in an impartial manner. Media plays a significant role in shaping society by reflecting upon the past, reporting current events, and contributing to cultural influences. Therefore, a career in journalism and mass communication involves much more responsibility than merely minting money and gaining the spotlight.
Here are some other highlights of this profession:
- It is a well-paying occupation that gives you plenty of opportunities to connect with people while voicing your opinions.
- Journalists empower people with knowledge and make a difference in the world with their work.
- Explaining complex ideas to varied audiences in different formats is an art form in itself.
- It combines storytelling, collaboration, and managerial aspects, equipping practitioners with critical thinking and life skills.
- Media careers help you develop diverse skill sets, also transferable to other industries.
Skills Journalists Need
This line of work is an excellent choice for people who like interacting with people. Also, if you are interested in learning how different production techniques (radio, television, digital channels, etc.) work and how combining research with intuition can help in the search for truth, a career in journalism is for you.
For journalism roles, one requires a balance of both technical and soft skills, including:
- Writing and editing skills
These are among the most sought-after competencies in journalists, especially in the digital and print industry. Writing a story that captures the intended audience’s attention and informing them about something relevant is not something that many can ace. Professional education and training can help in building and refining these skills.
- Attention to detail and research aptitude
To ensure that your work is credible, you must conduct extensive research before producing a story/report. It is crucial to understand that you can never know everything about a topic. Prior preparation and grasping the nitty-gritty details of a given issue can help you figure out the right people to talk to, which brings us to the next core skill.
- Interviewing skills
After you have selected an interviewee to gather insights about the subject at hand, you must prepare a list of relevant questions. This might entail talking to a peer, brainstorming with industry experts, or referring to your research notes. It is also essential to work on your tone, non-verbal communication, and listening skills so that you can extract the necessary information without missing the essence of the topic of discussion.
- Digital literacy
Computer skills are a standard requirement for journalism roles. Plus, with the advent of digital marketing and social media, digital literacy has become indispensable in modern workplaces. From using multimedia for storytelling to creating visual content (graphics, slideshows, videos, etc.) and using social media to amplify reach, digital applications pervade almost every aspect of a journalist’s job.
- Production knowledge
In the information age, news and facts are overflowing everywhere. However, not all news is credible or reliable. It is the masterful strategies and detailed research of journalists that transform a piece of information into a trustworthy report. All professionals in this field have a good grasp of written, visual, and audio media and their specific functionalities.
- Communication skills
Effective communication lies at the heart of the job of any media professional. It includes proficiencies like clarity, brevity, choosing the suitable medium and soft skills like constructive feedback, empathy, respect, open-mindedness, etc.
- Objectivity and logical reasoning
Be it sports, politics, crime, or world events, the way a journalist presents the subject matter makes all the difference. This involves breaking down the content in an easy-to-understand format and backing it up with facts and statistics. So, it needs a good mix of problem-solving, analysis, and technical competence. Nowadays, journalism courses and training programs incorporate case studies to help students practice, polish, and master these skills.
- Time management
Another hallmark of a responsible journalist is time management. Being late for an interview, rambling during a timed news report, and missing deadlines won’t take you very far in the game. So, you must learn how to multitask, prioritise, and stick to the schedule.
Scope in Journalism
As a journalist, you can find work opportunities in many different industries besides traditional media. You can work in public relations, law firms, consulting firms, corporate businesses, or digital marketing companies.
Some may choose to apply their skills like sales and marketing professionals in multinational companies, while others may join startups to explore multiple parallels simultaneously.
In the modern-day, the transition to digital journalism is evident. Content is being produced in many ways, as articles, reports, and even videos, podcasts, and tweets. These changes have also opened up new avenues for young graduates entering the workforce. Depending on your interest and chosen career path, you can diversify or specialise in a particular domain.
In India, the scope in journalism is incredibly vast, considering the country has the world’s second-largest population, a growing economy replete with developmental challenges that need visibility, deliberation, and solutions.
Journalism Salaries in India
The annual salary of a beginner journalist in India ranges from INR 1.5 lakh to 2.5 lakh. This figure goes up depending on the educational qualifications and work experience of the candidate. On average, a journalist with about 5-10 years of experience can earn between INR 4.5 to 5 lakh per year in India. According to Payscale, the total pay can go up to INR 10,00,000 per annum.
Typically, those with a master’s degree are offered more remuneration than someone with a bachelor’s degree. Then again, the job applicant’s skill profile is given due consideration during the hiring process. For instance, copywriting skills usually pay above the market average. Also, if you are proficient in data analysis, research analysis, and verbal communication, you can earn high pay packages. The salaries also vary depending on the industry, location, and job role.
Photojournalism is about interpreting and conveying events in a visual format, i.e. through photographs. A photojournalist’s job has elements of storytelling, technical photography, operating camera equipment, editing, and complying with legal requirements (for example, consent and privacy norms). Some understanding of print, digital publishing, and design also helps.
Copywriters can work for publications like newspapers, magazines, websites, and even online video production companies. As the name suggests, copywriting is about creating content, which may be in the form of news reports, articles, blogs, features, editorials, or video scripts.
An editor makes sure that the content going out for public consumption is coherent, uniform, and in line with publication guidelines. They work with proofreaders to spot wrong spellings and grammatical errors, rewrite content for easy readability, and verify facts cited in the material.
4. Media Researcher
A Media Researcher’s work revolves around finding out background information and collecting factual data. They support the production departments of television, radio, and documentary films by filling out the details of show locations, contributors, etc. For some jobs, you may need specialised knowledge in a particular subject area. For instance, the researcher opening for an ‘emerging technologies’ programme may list engineering or expertise in computer science as one of the required qualifications.
5. PR Specialist
As a public relations professional, you are concerned with maintaining and enhancing your client or company’s public persona. Your primary tasks would be to build a good brand image, handle crises, make press releases, organise press conferences, and so on.
6. Social Media Manager
In the current technology-led industry, a social media manager is an integral part of any marketing team. The role is about creating, executing, and managing brand promotions and campaigns across different online social networks, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. As a social media manager, you also monitor, moderate, and reply to audience comments and develop strategies for partnerships with other brands. Analysing data and campaign results is the analytical component of this job.
7. Broadcast Journalist
This career path is perfect for those who want to produce broadcast-worthy stories, anchor news segments or develop content for television and digital outlets. There are opportunities to work both behind and in front of the camera. Some journalism students come with novel ways of utilising their training, such as collaborating with artists or studying the emerging trends in digital broadcasting.
8. News Producer
It is the responsibility of news producers to tie all the newscast elements, such as videos, graphics, voice-overs, live shots, etc., into a cohesive show. They oversee the reporters, director, field crew, photographers, and editors to ensure that the news production unit delivers a successful show with a good ‘flow’.
9. News Presenter
A presenter’s job is to communicate in a manner that holds the attention of the audience. Apart from having a good command of language, speech, and diction, it is vital for a presenter to be calm and composed under stressful situations and demonstrate intelligence, especially where live shows are concerned. Special reports need to have thorough knowledge about their domain (politics, sports, crime, etc.)
Critics are experts who dish out their assessments or opinions on particular subject matters in which they have comprehensive knowledge and experience. They may write for a newspaper or magazine, host a television or radio show, or even disseminate their analysis in the form of podcasts or YouTube videos. Usually, critics cover social issues, government policies, or creative works, including cinema, literature, music, art, fashion, and food, to name a few.
This is a highly creative vocation that involves the application of wit, humour, and art to illustrate and comment on current happenings in a satirical manner. Indian cartoonist R.K. Lakshman’s daily newspaper comic scripts are an excellent example of this kind of work.
In the digital era, this concentration has taken many forms. Today, you can work as an online content creator, making digital comics for Instagram, or take a job as a graphic designer or animator with a marketing or design agency.
12. Data Journalist
Job roles in data journalism bring credibility and a dynamic personality to news coverage and reportage. A survey by Google News Lab and PolicyViz indicates that 51% of news organisations employ dedicated data journalists. Students and professionals trained in data science can contribute to creating compelling, data-driven articles, eliminating fake news.
Leading Journalism Courses to Pursue
The minimum eligibility to qualify for the roles mentioned above is a 10+2 school certificate followed by a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Some may enter the field after completing postgraduate programs in marketing and communications. The key here is not to focus on the academic credentials but emphasise how the training and skills match with your professional goals. Employers tend to prefer candidates who are well-versed in industry tools and exhibit leadership acumen.
Advanced certifications and courses offer a great way of showcasing this prowess. Here is a list of online programs offered by leading institutions that you can consider to upskill and advance your career in journalism:
- Master of Arts in Communication & Journalism (University of Mumbai)
- MBA (Global) with Specialisation in Digital Marketing (MICA & Deakin Business School)
To be successful in journalism, you must not only remain curious and inquisitive about the new developments but also make efforts towards building a professional network. So, opt for study options that provide opportunities to implement projects, interact with industry experts, and gain mentorship.
With this, we hope to have brought you up to speed on how to build a career in journalism and mass communication. If you have any further insights beyond what we’ve shared, do let us know in the comments below!