If you are a story writer and prefer using anecdotes for explaining everything that is happening around the world, then journalism is an apt choice of profession for you. Story writing is not merely weaving thoughts into words, it is presenting the truth in an acceptable format. When we say ‘acceptable format’, we touch on a very subjective note. This format is without any specificity and structure and that is where the creativity of a journalist comes into the picture.
It is their job to construct or deconstruct a story. To ensure vital information is in safe hands, journalism demands utmost dedication and responsibility. And more often than not, the projects involved are time-sensitive. This means journalists must be able to work to tight deadlines.
In this article, we will explore the roles and responsibilities of journalists, the skills required to become a journalist, and the various careers you can pursue in the field.
What Does a Journalist Do?
The word ‘passion’ best describes this profession. If you are fearless, candid, self-motivated, extremely zealous in finding the truth, and have the knack of using the anecdotal approach with or without the context, you have all the skills to pursue journalism as a career.
What will make you distinct as a journalist is your sweeping confidence, aptitude, eloquence, and the way you use words to inform the audience. In simple words, a journalist captures the right story/news. This ranges from social issues to sports, entertainment, and politics.
The reason why a journalist’s job involves responsibility is that the majority of people will refer to the news or the story you put out to form an opinion on a subject. The prudence of the story writer can be witnessed in public or viewer’s/readers opinions.
Responsibilities of a journalist can be enumerated in the following points:
- Represent the media of work flawlessly; whether it is written or news, or television.
- Work with a cross-functional team on a diverse range of news stories.
- Have an unbiased opinion while penning a story.
- Keeping a record of interviews, dates, and notes.
- Collect, analyze and decode data correctly.
- Ensure meeting deadlines.
- Writing is important, but so is editing, so editing to improvise is one of the most important activities that a journalist does.
- Evaluate leads to get stories.
- Find captivating stories and pitch them well.
- Conduct trustworthy research before claiming a news story.
- Remain updated on the news front by attending events, and reading relevant papers and magazines.
All these activities that a journalist does goes hand in hand. From finding a story to investigating it and writing about it, everything is intertwined. The timeline of these may vary but the process remains the same for all forms of journalism. Newspaper writing also entails these duties and so do television and social media. However, the company-specific protocols may vary with the above-mentioned points remaining the same.
Journalists Salary in India
Depending upon the company, experience and location, the salary of a journalist will vary. However, the average base salary in journalism according to Payscale is ₹370,608 /year. The average base salary is something that a journalist will earn, besides the additional income that may come as a bonus or profit.
Like any other industry, journalists also enjoy bonuses. What journalists also enjoy is inadvertent fame. This is what keeps them encouraged; motivating them to investigate the next story. Not many professions are associated with this perk. Furthermore, journalists who work on a profit-sharing basis, stand to earn a decent percentage of profit from marketing their content on influential platforms. This is especially useful in the latter stage of their career where on-the-ground reporting is less feasible. The average annual profit of journalists reaches up to ₹49k per annum.
Let us now take a look at the various levels of salaries for journalists:
1. Entry Level: For fresher’s right out of college, the entry-level salary ranges between ₹1.5 lac per annum to ₹2.5 lac per annum.
2. Early Career: A journalist with 1 to 4 years of experience can earn up to ₹351,309 per annum.
3. Mid Career: In this mid-career with up to 9 years of experience, journalists earn an average of ₹496,411 per annum.
4. Late Career: In their late-career with less than 20 years of experience, journalists can earn ₹479,616 per annum.
5. Experienced: In the final stage of their careers, journalists can earn ₹250,000 per annum.
Other than this, the perks of being recognized are extremely lucrative. Journalists tend to get a lot of invitations for social media events, so they can propagate a business using their social media platforms. However, this advantage of being invited to important media announcements is usually reserved for famous journalists who have a large follower base.
According to Glassdoor, Times of India is the highest paying company in India for the role of a journalist. Many other companies such as Network 18, Indian Express, are also well-paying, and a lot of freshers are seeking promising careers in these firms.
Educational Background and Skills Required for Journalists
From the qualification point of view, journalists require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in journalism, mass communication, or a related field. There are both entry-level positions as well as experience-based levels to chart an existing career path in journalism.
In recent years, journalism has become a highly-sought career for those who seek fame and recognition as well as high-level, influential positions in the public forum. It is a job role for candidates who can spearhead activities and be in the vanguard of numerous social activities.
Apart from these basic skills, one needs to acquire stellar public skills to augment the technical learning involved in the field. Technical learning involves tangible and intangible traits. These are mentioned below:
1. Apt Perception of Journalism
Good knowledge of the fundamentals of journalism is significant to success. Students who study and understand the core principles of journalism will ascertain their goals faster and reach high-end roles easily.
2. Digital Know-How
Being a part of the digital epoch, every journalism student needs to have competent expertise in digital media. With a capacity to turn someone into a star overnight, or expose an ugly truth, digital media has often more often been a boon than bane in the field of journalism. Since multimedia is visual as well as audio-based, the scope of captivating storytelling via this medium is endless.
However, the responsibility also elevates as the content has to be regulated and should be within the norms of the media. For those planning to enter journalism, it’s time you opt for courses in digital media platforms as digital expansion is only going to get bigger.
3. Curiosity to Learn
On-the-job training is one of the most effective ways of upgrading journalism skills. Those who can leverage this platform of learning stand to move higher in the hierarchy at a much faster pace than their peers. This along with good interpersonal skills will increase your chances of success in the field.
4. Language Proficiency
Language proficiency extends both to writing skills as well as verbal skills. Firstly, Writing scripts, editing, listening, and interpreting news matter correctly is an indispensable part of this profession. Secondly, communication is imperative for being an effective journalist.
Communication is not just restricted to the English Language, but any language. Understandably, Communication is a two-way process and those who know to persuade others to provide information using their skills stand to be better investigators and produce quality content.
5. Problem-Solving Abilities
Every field has its challenges and journalism is one of the most unpredictable fields. No stories are the same and each requires a unique approach. If you can overcome day-to-day challenges efficiently, journalism will take you far ahead in your career.
The confluence of these skills and in-depth academic knowledge gained from pursuing the education of the right course is necessary to succeed as a journalist.
Today, you will find several courses that provide you with the academic know-how that is so paramount to laying the right foundation for a successful career in journalism.
Here are the top courses you can undertake to gain professional knowledge of this field.
- Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Mass Communication from Chandigarh University (3 years)
- Master of Arts in Journalism & Mass Communication from Chandigarh University
- Master of Arts in Communication & Journalism from University of Mumbai (2 years)
- Master of Arts in Public Relations from the University of Mumbai (2 years)
You can also pursue one or more of the above courses in Hindi or Marathi through upGrad.
A few other courses that will help enhance your skill set are:
- Diploma in Journalism (1 year)
- Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication (2 years)
- Bachelor of Arts in Scriptwriting (3 years)
- Bachelor of Media Science (3 years)
Every Bachelor course has an extended corresponding MA course. So an integrated 5-year course promises to give lots of knowledge and information along with internship experience or a hands-on workshop. Many colleges have these courses in integrated as well bifurcated formats
Careers in Journalism
Here are the different careers you can pursue after obtaining a degree in journalism:
1. News Anchors
Commonly seen on television, news anchors report political stories, entertainment, sports, and current affairs. If you have clear diction besides good journalism skills, this is a very lucrative career for you.
Average Base Salary: ₹4,06,832 per year
As the name suggests, reporters provide information about a particular location to all the citizens of a country as well as outside the periphery of the country. The career demands a lot of hard work and passion to conduct investigations and interviews, overcome challenges using problem-solving skills and networking to increase your marketability.
Average Base Salary: ₹2,27,193 per year
The significance of content is adjudicated by an editor. Whatever is published has gone through an editor. So all the reporters and journalists report to an editor whose typical duties involve planning, reviewing, revising, and developing the content. A lot of onus of the work is vested into the hands of an editor and this position is needed in all forms of journalism such as magazines, news, website, and television.
Average Base Salary: ₹3,91,000 per year
To communicate a story effectively is the responsibility of a writer. This requires a knack for words, proficiency in a given language, and the ability to resonate with people. One can work for any medium as a writer, be it full-time, part-time or a freelancer.
Average Base Salary: ₹3,80,000 per year
5. Social Media Manager
The onset of digital media has given rise to this very effective position. From handling social media accounts of individuals like celebrities to small-size to large-size organizations, social media managers take control of the content and the propagation. The how, what, and when of a story is decided by a social media manager.
Average Base Salary: ₹3,08,000 per year
6. Public Relation Specialist
An in-depth understanding of media and related news is where a public relation specialist specializes. From reaching media announcements and capturing everything into a captivating story, a PR specialist has a major hand in boosting the sales and popularity of an individual or a company.
Average Base Salary: ₹6,00,000 per year
Apart from these positions, other rewarding roles include Grant Writers, Technical Writer, Film and Video editors and Advertising Managers, to name a few. For aspiring journalism students, there are ample avenues and opportunities in this field.
Journalism is an effective conveyance of awareness and information regarding country-wide and world-wide affairs. The future of journalism will be marked by personalization and intelligence as more remote writers and remote positions related to the field are emerging.
Journalists proved their mettle during the unfortunate pandemic period as media professionals and reporters were among the frontliners conveying information from around the world. It was also during this time that the power of social media was brought to the fore, helping the field emerge even stronger than it was.
With that in mind, there will be a growing demand for journalists worldwide even in the years to come. And certification courses and programs will help journalists acquire important positions, and drive career growth.