The world of modern journalism, with all its celebrity gossip, seemingly inane trivia and ‘fake news,’ can seem like a million miles away from the journalism of the past. However, while the way we consume information and receive our news may have changed, it is still very possible to inspire and instigate change through journalism whether it’s published on a website or in a newspaper. To be an effective journalist, you obviously need to have a solid foundation in grammar, punctuation and spelling, but there several other skills and qualities to consider. Here are 8 must-have qualities required for a successful career in journalism.
An inquisitive nature
A journalist needs to have an innate hunger for truth and knowledge with the ability to immerse themselves in a topic so they can write about it expertly at a moment’s notice. Many people begin a career in journalism studying for an online liberal arts degree as it equips them with the broad knowledge, critical thinking, and investigative skills which make a great journalist.
A journalist should give their readers an accurate, unbiased and fair version of a story that requires a high degree of self-control and integrity.
A cool head under pressure
Meeting quick deadlines and reporting on breaking news stories are a huge part of the job, so you need to be able to write quickly while still maintaining quality and accuracy. Deadlines and circumstances can change with no notice, so you need to be able to adapt and come up with a new plan.
Excellent people skills
Whether interviewing someone for a feature or getting the thoughts and opinions on a topic from the general public, you need to be able to build a rapport with people so that they trust and like you enough to open up.
Not motivated by money
While some do manage to make a healthy wage from journalism, the vast majority are not in it for remuneration. If you are satisfied with finding truth and love the fast paced nature of the industry, you’ll have all the reward you need.
Discipline and stamina
To meet deadlines, you will need to be willing and able to work long and unsociable hours as well as weekends with very little financial reward. When you’re tired or you have a social commitment and a breaking news story needs covering, you need to be willing to sacrifice elements of your personal life.
Exceptional research skills
Journalists need to be able to support their work with facts, figures, and evidence. While the internet has made research easier to a degree, it also means that there is a lot of inaccurate information out there. You need to be able to separate the facts from the fiction and to establish influential contacts in all walks of life to get you the information you need.
Understanding of current affairs and culture
Social media and magazine journalism is heavily influenced by current and future trends. Therefore, you need to have an eye for the next big thing while having your finger on the pulse of what’s happening right now.