Journalists investigate news tips, observe events at news scenes, research people and events, and interview sources. Skills required include: reading, writing, editing, proofreading, organizing, word processing, desktop publishing, and familiarity with databases. Personal skills needed include “a nose for news,” persistence, initiative, poise, resourcefulness, a good memory, physical stamina, and the ability to meet deadlines and work under pressure.
A bachelor’s degree is almost always required. Some employers prefer journalism majors; other employers prefer liberal arts majors, with an emphasis in journalism courses. Whichever educational approach one takes, the key to securing internships and jobs in journalism is getting published. For this reason, working on college newspapers, and small local publications, is absolutely essential.
Other college courses of value to future journalists are writing courses, American literature, political science, economics, sociology, psychology, history, math, and computer sciences. Fluency in a foreign language, especially Spanish, is helpful in big-city, American markets. A recent development in journalism is the increasing presence of Internet communications and publishing, which may require a journalist to use various media including audio and video postings on the web.
At small newspapers, which are often where one starts working, the ability to do many jobs is most attractive to employers. In such cases, being able to report, write, edit, take photographs, design pages on the computer, manage Internet sites, and even handle ads and billings may prove helpful.