When deciding on a career, students can become overwhelmed by the huge number of choices. Studying job handbooks and career outlook guides published by the Department of Labor reveals dozens of industries covering many different clusters of related jobs. Each individual can make their own choices, but there are five good reasons to choose a career in journalism:
- Endless networking possibilities
- Cross training on the job
- Making a difference
- High mobility
- Improved focus
Endless Networking Possibilities
Doing research to gather information and facts for a story inevitably leads to developing new contacts and sources. In a very short time, a conscientious journalist can meet hundreds of people in various professions and walks of life. Journalism is the perfect career for an extrovert who enjoys meeting new people.
Cross-Training on the Job
Over the course of their career, a journalist researching background information on stories is exposed to new concepts and ideas outside their discipline. For example, while covering their beat, a government reporter learns how politics relates to local, state, or national government. A journalist covering health news learns about medicine and medical procedures.
Making a Difference
Education reporters learn about trends in education and developments in the school systems and can help improve them. Journalists covering crime news can make a difference when they report not only on criminal activity and who was arrested, but on hearings, trials, and convictions. Many reporters focus on trends in police work and the latest techniques in catching criminals. This helps the public to stay up-to-date on their area and feel safer.
Journalism often involves traveling to different cities, states or even other countries to report the news, and reporters have an opportunity to expand their horizon each time. Journalists who cover technology can travel to California’s Silicon Valley to learn about advances in computers. Correspondents covering national news can be sent to the nation's capital, and those covering international news and current events travel to the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and beyond.
With each new assignment, reporters facing a deadline learn to read, write and type a little faster. The job trains them to quickly pick out the relevant facts in documents to use in a story. An experienced journalist can put together a story on short notice, and some even master shorthand.
The Bottom Line
Not everyone is cut out for a journalism career. A basic cornerstone is the ability to write and communicate clearly. Once the groundwork is laid, there is no limit to the jobs that become available.
Journalists who follow their dream won’t get rich, but they will have a rewarding career. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2010 median annual salary for a journalist was $36,000. The trend through 2020 is a 6 percent decrease in the number of journalism jobs available, but experts say there are still plenty of jobs needing to be filled. They include:
- Newspaper Reporters and Editors
- Graphic Designers
- Fact-Checkers, Proofreaders and Researchers
- Television Reporters, Correspondents and Producers
- Camera Operators and Video Journalists
- Talent Directors, Floor Directors, and Control Room
- Personnel Bloggers and Columnists
That doesn’t even include related careers such as print or broadcast advertising sales representatives, set designers, lighting technicians, film and video editors, and sound technicians for television or radio. Some of those jobs require highly technical skills and they pay very well. Digital journalism is the wave of the future, and with the increasing trend towards online reporting, demand for those jobs will increase.
Whether print, digital or broadcast, many find this line of work appealing. Graduates who enter the field don’t do it because of the high salaries or corporate perks. True journalists are drawn to it because of their love of the industry and the multiple opportunities it offers.
Paul Chen is a freelance blogger with an interest in journalism and other burgeoning careers. If you are interested in working as a journalist, Paul recommends earning an online communications masters degree.