How to become a Journalist
Journalism is an exciting career path for those that love traveling and keeping up to date with the latest news. With the abundance of news sources available today, it’s never been more important to have well-trained, ethical, and reliable freelance journalists. If you’re considering becoming a journalist in Australia, here are some steps to help get your started.
Step 1: Get a degree in journalism
Whilst anyone can become a journalist, if you want to work with mainstream media outlets, it is highly competitive. To stand out from the crowd, you’ll need to have performed well in a journalism or writing related degree. There are many journalism courses offered through universities, and some online degrees are available as well. These courses give you a broad overview of the basics of journalistic writing techniques and ethics. They also provide hands-on experience with writing for different mediums such as print, radio, or television.
Step 2: Complete an internship
Once you have completed your degree, the next step is to complete an internship at a news organisation. This will give you the opportunity to gain practical experience in the field and make industry contacts. No matter how much education you have in journalism, employers will look for practical experience when considering candidates for freelance positions. Whilst you are studying, you should therefore invest time in building up your portfolio. Reach out to community newspapers and offer to do an internship. If you can’t find an internship, writing for your university newsletter or publication is also a great way to show off your skills.
Step 3: Pick you focus areas
In order to be successful as a journalist, it is important to stay up to date with industry news. This can be done by reading industry publications, attending conferences and networking with other professionals. Over time, as you start to refine your writing style, you’ll also start to identify specific areas that interest you, and you have a natural talent for writing about. Most journalists will specialise in a few areas such as politics and governments policy, sports, or media and technology. Specialising in a few areas allows you to focus your time, attention and networking in those domains.
Step 4: Apply for freelance jobs
Once you’ve completed your studies and gained some practical experience in the field, it’s time to start looking for work. The best place to start is by connecting with existing journalists that write about the topics that you are interested in writing about. Reach out to them on LinkedIn, or even directly over email, and request to catch up and get to know them. Through the contacts you make, you’ll likely find there are many freelance opportunities available. Your network over time will also introduce you to editors who may be looking for new talent.
Step 5: Make personal safety a priority
Journalism can be a dangerous profession, depending on what you write about, so it is important to always maintain a high degree of caution. There are many stories of journalists being attacked or even killed in war zones while on assignment. As a result, always be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Another thing to keep in mind if you want to become a journalist is that the job may require you to relocate. Many journalists start their careers working in regional areas before moving on to larger cities or even taking on overseas assignments.
Becoming a journalist in Australia requires good writing skills, an ability to report accurately, and dedication but with the right qualifications and experience it can be an incredibly rewarding career path with plenty of opportunities for growth and development. If you’re interested in becoming a journalist, then make sure you take the time to research your options thoroughly and don’t forget about networking, it could end up being the key factor that helps land that perfect job.