Journalism is the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information. It is also the product of these activities.
Journalism can be distinguished from other activities and products by certain identifiable characteristics and practices. These elements not only separate journalism from other forms of communication, they are what make it indispensable to democratic societies. History reveals that the more democratic a society, the more news and information it tends to have.
The purpose of journalism is thus to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments.
What Does a Journalist Do?
One of the main responsibilities of a journalist is to investigate a situation or issue and provide a comprehensive summary. Typically, a journalist will attempt to summarize a situation by including the main points. This can often be done by answering a list of five questions. These questions are often referred to as the “Five W’s”, and they are as follows:
Who is it about?
Where did the event occur?
When did the event occur?
Why did it happen?
In addition, many journalists will also attempt to answer one additional question about how an event occurred.
Where Does a Journalist Work?
A journalist that works in print media often has a couple different choices when it comes to their work environments. Some choose to work as freelance journalists, writing news stories and submitting them in hopes of a newspaper or magazine buying them. A freelancer that contributes regularly to a particular newspaper or magazine is often referred to as a stringer. Other journalists work as staff writers and reporters.
Journalists that work as television reporters, on the other hand, typically work in television studios.
Necessary Education Requirements
Degrees in journalism, English, or communications are usually required in order to get started with a journalism career. Aspiring journalists looking to work in television, however, should consider degrees in broadcast journalism.
These journalists gather news and prepare articles and reports for newspapers, radio and television stations, wire services and magazines. They identify and track sources of information, and they conduct interviews by phone, in person or by e-mail
Editors work with writers: reviewing, editing, and sometimes rewriting their work to meet the publisher’s editorial standards. They review queries (story proposals) and assign stories to staff or freelance writers
Copy editors prepare content for publication by finding and fixing errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar and syntax. They also check for consistency and accuracy, and they correct formatting mistakes.
New Media Journalists
New media journalists blur the line between print and broadcast journalism by using text, images, audio and video to create and publish their stories. They work for online newspapers, magazines and other publications.
Photojournalists are news photographers who tell their stories visually, using film footage or photographs. They work for newspapers, magazines, wire services, television stations and other media outlets. They cover newsworthy people and events, including sporting events, on local, national and international levels.