Do you have it in you to doggedly pursue a cause till you see it concluded to your satisfaction? And by satisfaction, we mean successfully completing your task having given it an honest, persistent effort? Well, you might then have one of the necessary elements to become a voice for the stories that need to reach out to the world, as a journalist.
Journalism has been a popular career for hundreds of years, sometimes glorified while sometimes vilified and made to suffer for their attempts at washing away pretences and bringing the truth out to the public.
If ever there was a list of careers that have sought out the brave and the intellectual, hand in hand, to take on the powerful, every day on their job, risking their lives even, journalism would probably be featured quite prominently on it.
There are many forms, or genres, that fall under this Journalism roof. You must have heard of the hard-hitting investigative journalists, political, news reporting, and more.
However, journalism actually encompasses more than them. Newspaper, news agency, magazine, government information services, column, feature, or review writing, and the post-internet online blogging and reporting.
Skills needed to become a good journalist
Whatever be the choice of reporting, there are certain essential qualities that are integral to great journalism.
- Writing Skills: Whether it is in English or any other language, you need to have enough dexterity in communicating clear ideas and thoughts. Many would-be journalists start writing way earlier than the launch of their career. It is not just about writing well though, it also about building on the knowledge of the various writing styles. The best way to develop this skill is to maintain a regular reading and writing habit. In this day and age, it is fairly simple to maintain an online presence through personal blogs. Find a way to get your work published and out there for critiquing. Read How to improve your professional writing skills and communication skills.
- Technical Skills: Though most journalism courses do focus on training their students the intricacies of printing, publishing, audio and video journalism, and digital journalism, you might want to familiarize yourself with the technical know-hows of how to get the words formally out there.
- Persistence and investigative skills: Every journalist is expected to commit her full potential into every piece – being aware of current affairs, knowing where to look, finding the story, researching the story and finally, telling the story in an uncorrupted, unbiased, uninfluenced and original fashion. This requires a level of persistence and commitment that is synonymous with a journalistic career.
- Ethics: This goes hand in hand with the quality of the work. A journalist’s piece needs to be not only original, it should also be factually corroborated. Hence, it is essential to understand the ethical requirements to become a conscientious journalist – free from a compulsion to pander to sensationalism for the sake of sales.
Qualifications to become a Journalist
While it is not absolutely essential to have a journalism qualification to pursue a career as a columnist, blogger, or some of the related jobs, a formal education does obviously play a pivotal role in gaining a streamlined entry into the profession. The basic qualities for all journalists, whether formally or informally trained, is the same in terms of research and writing skills. However, a formal training takes care of many more nuances beyond the basic. It not only creates a wholesome foundation for all good reporting requirements, but also helps students get hands-on experience through projects and internships. These processes are generally rewarded by developing employer faith in degree holders.
In general, you can embark on a journalism path either right after high-school or upon graduating from any of the recognized undergraduate degrees, followed by a graduate/Master’s degree/diploma in journalism and communication studies. Admissions are usually granted upon clearing basic 10+2 percentage and entrance test qualifiers, as required by individual institutes.
Here are some of the well-known journalism courses at the undergraduate level.
- BA (Honours) in Journalism
- BA in Journalism, English, Psychology and Communication & Media Studies offered by a Department of Media Studies
- BA in Journalism and Communication
- Bachelor in Mass Media and Mass Communication, etc.
For the Post-Graduate degrees,
- Diploma in Advanced Integrated Communications, Communication for Development, Journalism and Mass Communication, Public Relations and Corporate Communication, Advertising and Marketing Communications, Film, Television and Digital Video Production, Diploma in Mass Media,
- Certification Programs in Announcing, Broadcasting, Creative Writing, Media and Visual Arts, Public Speaking, Photography, etc.
- Master of Arts in Mass Communication, Convergent Journalism, Development Communication, Visual Effects and Animation, PG Diploma in Broadcast Technology, PG Diploma in Still Photography and Visual Communication, Master of Science in Communication, etc.
Top Colleges for Journalism and Mass Communication in India
- Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi
- School of Communication, Manipal University
- Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi
- Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication, Pune
- A.J.K. Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Milia Islamia University
- Department of Communication and Journalism, Pune
- Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi
- Jawaharlal Nehru University, Centre of Media Studies
- Department of Media Studies, Christ University, Bangalore
There are many more out there. Anyone who is interested in pursuing the field of journalism, reporting and media studies, is well recommended to research the various options available.
Salary and Career Prospects in India after a Degree in Journalism
Formal courses usually come hand in hand with a short internship at a newspaper house, news agency, public relations office, etc. Upon graduation, depending on the specialization – investigative journalism, public relations, visual or print media, advertising, etc – one can join at the entry level in print or electronic media.
Popular job designations include Assistant Information Officer, Staff Reporter, Correspondent, Public Relations Officer, and various hierarchical strata of the posts, from junior to senior level.
Popular employers are news agencies, magazine houses, newspaper houses, publishing houses, and even government posts like in the Indian Information Service.
Salaries are commensurate with the level of seniority and can range from a low INR 25-30k to pretty much in the high INR 1,00,000 per month, with experience. On an average, a journalist earns about INR 3.5 lacs per annum, according to Payscale.
Journalists often move on to more entrepreneurial roles, later in their career, taking the possibility of pay hikes way above the higher-grade pays.
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The job is, as expected, quite demanding. If you stay in pure news journalism, the hours are determined by events and your story. Certain other posts, which are not directly related to following the news, are somewhat forgiving. However, they are often known to be victims of pretty poor work-life balance.
Constant traveling, late nights, and not as much compensation are the usual complaints. The satisfaction and passion for the career, of course, goes a big way in compensating for the lack of hours.
The job is also described as challenging, invigorating, and highly satisfying on account of its service to the good of the public.
So, if this is your calling, go for it. And may we hear the news of world peace from your next piece.