Journalist Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Journalist, or Reporter, is responsible for researching and writing informational news articles and stories about real events using a fair and unbiased perspective. Their duties include interviewing experts, gathering first-hand accounts of events and organizing an outline into a cohesive, interesting story.

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Journalist duties and responsibilities 

Given that Journalists are such influential figures, one of their main duties is presenting all the relevant facts without letting their own personal beliefs affect their judgment. Additionally, they have a duty of understanding their audience. No matter what a Journalist feels is important, they must report on stories that are relevant to the communities they serve. Additionally, Journalists are supposed to serve the public rather than being tools of the government. Therefore, they must be willing to report on stories that could adversely affect the powers that be. 

Journalists may work in an office. However, they must work where ever the story is. They must be willing to travel, track people down, conduct interviews, show up at crime scenes, as well as travel to any other place that is necessary to research and get the details of the stories they are presenting. 

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What does a Journalist do?

Journalists work at newspapers, websites, magazines and other media outlets to share interesting pieces of non-fiction writing with their community. They generate ideas for stories and pitch them to an editor, then gather and fact-check details. They can write about serious political events, community interest stories or lighthearted features. Journalists can perform research by reading other articles or collecting their own primary sources. Journalists build relationships with various sources in the community and media contacts to ensure they have an accurate stream of information. They organize their ideas and use compelling language to turn their idea into a complete article.

Journalist skills and qualifications 

If you want to be a successful Journalist, you need to possess the following skills:

  • Research: One of the most important skills of a Journalist is having the ability to conduct extensive research. Journalists must know how to verify sources and check all the facts before they present the story to the public. 
  • Strong Written and Verbal Communication: Given that Journalists must write and are often required to present the stories they are researching, they need to have strong written and verbal communication skills. 
  • Storytelling: Stories do not write themselves. No matter how much potential a story has, it will not be well received if the story is not written properly. 
  • Ethics: Given that they have the power to influence and mobilize people over various issues and causes, Journalists must be highly ethical. 
  • Remaining Poised Under Pressure: Given the extreme nature of some news stories as well as the fact that they often work under strict deadlines, Journalists must be able to remain poised under pressure. 

Journalist salary expectations

The average salary for a Journalist is $36.20 an hour. However, depending on their level of experience, education and employer, they can make anywhere from $11.55 to $74.40 an hour. Smaller news outlets tend to pay far less than major outlets. However, it is next to impossible to earn a position at a major outlet without extensive qualifications and experience. 

Journalist education and training requirements

In order to become a Journalist, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree in communications or journalism. You can also choose whether you wish to specialize in print or broadcast journalism. They also tend to minor is related subjects such as political science, environmental reporting, or economics. Additionally, Journalists typically need to complete at least one internship with a reputable media outlet to secure their position. 

Journalist experience requirements

The main method of gaining experience as a Journalist is to get an internship and work at a media outlet. This is one of the top requirements for inexperienced Journalists. Additionally, they must have perfected the art of storytelling. Many employers request for candidates to include any stories they have worked on in the past. Additionally, employers occasionally make exceptions and hire those who have not yet obtained a bachelor’s degree. However, these candidates must have an extensive writing portfolio as well as some experience in the field to be considered. 

Job description samples for similar positions

If you are somewhat interested in journalism but would like to try for a different type of position, the following are examples of similar positions:

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Frequently asked questions about Journalists


What are the different types of Journalist?

There are different types of Journalist that focus on different subjects. People who report on the events that occur in a specific area are known as Community Journalists and generally focus on area-specific issues. Sports Journalists update the public on the results of sports matches and provide analysis on the gameplay that occurred. Lifestyle Journalists are another popular specialty that produces entertaining content on leisure, personal wellness, home decor and recreation. Other types of Journalist include:

  • Crime Journalists
  • Political Journalists
  • Celebrity Journalists
  • Investigative Journalists
  • Business Journalists
  • Arts Journalists
  • Environmental Journalists
  • Watchdog Journalists


What is the difference between a Journalist and a Columnist?

Journalists are responsible for providing factual information without an opinionated point of view. Their goal is to abide by a code of ethics and prevent objective facts that allow the public to form their own opinion. Journalists report on events to promote awareness in their community. Columnists often write persuasive articles presenting a specific point of view and providing an argument of why others should agree with them. Some Columnists may write about news stories and insert their own additional entertaining commentary. They might also use their column to give advice or tell fictional stories.


What are the qualities of a good Journalist?

A good Journalist is a natural storyteller who is able to identify all of the key factors that influence a situation. They are creative and can come up with ideas and turn them into written drafts quickly. Great Journalists enjoy working other pressure and responding to tight deadlines and requests from editors. They know how to persuade people to give them information without crossing ethical lines. They are honest, straightforward and direct, using vocabulary that is both accurate and easy for members of the public to understand. Successful Journalists are ambitious, hardworking and motivated.


What are the daily duties of a Journalist?

Journalists can work at any time of day pursuing leads and writing stories. Some Journalists work overtime to report breaking news and be the first person to release a story to the media. They travel to various locations to meet interview subjects and perform research. They take notes then compile them into a story draft. Journalists may write multiple drafts of the same story then edit them into one compelling article with a clear introduction, body and conclusion.

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