Like the printing press, the telegraph, television and all other forms of media that came before it, the internet has changed journalism. You need to be a lot more than just a great writer to land the job of your dreams. Here are eight must-have skills that’ll help you become the perfect journalist.
This seems quite straightforward but it’s easier said than done. Having an open mind allows anyone to fully grasp the reality of a situation. As a journalist, having predisposed opinions may kill your piece as a narrow-minded approach leads to a biased and judgmental perspective. Everyone has opinions, everyone has their side of the story, but your job as a journalist is to illustrate the entire picture. Be open to others’ thoughts; yet don’t be afraid to compare them to your own. The more open minded you are, the more inclusive and knowledgeable your writing will be. Being open minded also applies to the topics you are assigned to write about. One day it might be about beauty products and the next day you’re researching workout tips. Whatever your topic may be, keeping an open mind will open the door to the possibility of finding a new hobby, interest or passion. It’s happened before!
Keep going when the writing gets tough! It’s not always going to be a breeze to write an article; sometimes it takes a whole lot of persistence. As a journalist the skill of keeping at the task at hand is key, especially when writer’s block hits. Here’s a tip I received that stuck with me: if you have writer’s block, start again. Start a new document, start on a new page and write it all over again. Sure, you can take a short 10-minute coffee break but I suggest that you keep pushing forward. If you keep at it, different perspectives will form which will allow you to sift through your thoughts and clear out the clutter. So don’t back down, keep writing and it’ll come together eventually.
A journalist that can do great research produces knowledgeable articles – and that is what readers want. When it comes down to it, people believe facts, and whether you’re writing about an up-and-coming musician or homemade tacos, people want to hear everything. So get curious and remember to have healthy skepticism: a good journalist has questions, but great journalists get answers.
A journalist must have basic skills like writing, social media and friendliness but there are a few hard skills that you could pick up that would set you apart from the rest of the writers. If you are efficient in graphic design, photography and/or videography, you have skills that would benefit you in SO many ways. Your editors will want to send you to gigs because you can write the story, take great pictures and record a short 30-second clip for Instagram.
Being True and Being You
Yes, I said that cliché motto because it’s true, and as a journalist you must have this approach all the time. Learn your style of writing, acknowledge your voice in your pieces and allow yourself to resonate within your work, because your work reflects you. This must-have skill is clear self-representation and the ability to do this well will show off your personality.
Sharing your articles on social media or through word-of-mouth, will not go unnoticed. Numbers speak and editors will take notice. If your articles are constantly trending, because you’re sharing your content, you’ll gain bragging rights for your trending pieces and editors will never want to let you go.
The skill of story telling is a skill of every great journalist. The ability to provide your readers with an intriguing piece, regardless of the topic at hand, is a skill that sets the good apart from the great. Talk to people, learn how to entice conversations and lead into thoughts by grabbing a hold of those listening to you. Remember, practice makes perfect.
Quick and Effective
Be quick! In today’s age, journalists need to be first and get the story out clear, concise and before the majority. With social media at our fingertips, news travels fast so you must always be ready to pick up on the latest details and keep up-to-date with what is happening. By being ready and quick to record, it helps the journalist avoid any regurgitation of others thoughts and ultimately a more original and intriguing piece to the audience. So be aware, be ready and always have your phone or handy notepad on you.