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For this career, by 34 people, from 10 (best) to 1 (worst).

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Inside Journalist Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

 

Biggest Surprises


"Don't Do This If You Don't Want To Work At A Newspaper...
I wasn't prepared to find out that any entry-level start out position after graduation would have to be at a newspaper, writing on the beat. If you have a specific concentration within written media that you are pursuing, don't expect to get a job in that area for a couple of years." (Journalist; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania, female
School: Studied Journalism at Edinboro University Of PA in Pennsylvania; completed Bachelor degree in 2003


"How Far My Education And Training Could Take Me...
Most people are surprised at the number of opportunities a career in journalism has. The training that is provided as far as research and critical thinking is applicable in many other careers." (Journalist; 2013)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in North Carolina, female
School: Studied Journalism at Howard University in District of Columbia; completed Bachelor degree in 1997


"Plenty Of Stones Left To Uncover...
I was surprised by the extent to which information is out there for people that take the time to seek it. Most of the time, nobody asks the right questions, but a journalist willing to ask the right questions can find out a lot and get a lot of scoops. I previously had the impression that most topics were well-covered by the media. Unfortunately that's not really the case." (Journalist; 2014)

Career: 9 years of experience, currently based in New Jersey, male
School: Studied Political Science at University Of Tulsa in Oklahoma; completed Bachelor degree in 2004


"Continual Changes Provide New Opportunities For The Writer...
What surprised me most about my profession is how it has changed. What was not possible when are I started is possible now. There is more opportunities to be independent and have a following that can lead to a regular job. Publishing changes so quickly that editors are in and out of jobs. However, there is always a need for an enterprising writer at newspapers, online venues and writing for blogs." (Author/Journalist; 2013)

Career: 30 years of experience, currently based in Nebraska, female
School: Studied Journalism at University Of NE At Kearny (UNK) in Nebraska; completed Bachelor degree in 1974


"Journalism Industry Skewing Younger...
It has been shocking in the last decade to see how quickly the media industry has collapsed in terms of career opportunities. There are a small fraction of the jobs that there used to be, and those that are still there are filled at minimal pay by young, recent graduates." (Newspaper Reporter; 2013)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in Missouri, male
School: Studied Journalism at Eastern Illinois University in Illinois; completed Bachelor degree in 2006


"Jobs In Radio Are Sparse...
I think it would surprise people to know how few jobs in radio are available. Thanks to large corporate consolidation and the advent of automation, many live? shows have been eliminated in favor of syndicated programs and voice-tracking." (Radio Journalist; 2013)

Career: 17 years of experience, currently based in Tennessee, female
School: Studied Journalism at University Of Southern Mississippi in Mississippi; completed Bachelor degree in 2000


"Experience Isn't The Only Important Thing...
I was surprised at how easy it was to find a job. I have always been told that journalism, especially sports journalism, is hard to break into. But I got my chance and I made the most of it and I'm happy with the opportunity I've been given." (Sports Writer; 2013)

Career: , currently based in New Jersey, female
School: Studied Communications at Rowan University in New Jersey; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"Developing Sources...
I was surprised the most with how easy it is to develop sources. People are willing to talk to journalists, even in regard to sensitive issues, if you don't treat them like they are on the witness stand and if you check in with them frequently." (Journalism; 2013)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Kentucky, male
School: Studied Journalism at University Of Mississippi in Mississippi; completed Bachelor degree in 2010


"Paid Writing Is No Guarantee...
I was surprised that so many publishing outlets either do not pay their writers, or only pay when prompted, sometimes over a period of months. Finding paid work as a writer can be a rarity, but those media outlets that do provide compensation in a timely manner are usually worth the search." (Freelance Writer; 2013)

Career: 8 years of experience, currently based in Texas, female
School: Studied English - Professional Writing at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania; completed Bachelor degree in 2008


"Being A Journalist Is Much More Than Just About Writing...
Being a journalist is completely different than most people might think. It's not just about writing. There are varied levels and positions in this career which can range from writing, to investigative and research. The work is different each and every day and never gets boring." (Journalist/Reporter; 2013)

Career: 15 years of experience, currently based in Nevada
School: Studied Communications at St Johns University in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 1988


"The Music Industry Is Who You Know...
I was surprised how much my experiences while in college helped me in my career. I also quickly discovered that this industry is mostly who you know and you have to be able to at least somewhat do your job properly." (Junior Publicist; 2014)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in New York, female
School: Studied Music Industry - Business at Drexel University in Pennsylvania; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"Job Requirements Change With The Times...
I'm surprised at how much social media I use for this job. The job requirements have changed with the times to keep up with technology." (Marketing Writer; 2014)

Career: 2 years of experience, female
School: Studied English Language & Literature at Georgia Southern University in Georgia; completed Bachelor degree in 2008


"People And Places Teach You A Lot...
It is surprising how many interesting people that I have been able to interview and all of the places around the world that I have gotten to go. It is great to learn about all kinds of topics and I wouldn't have gotten that opportunity otherwise." (Journalist/Editor; 2013)

Career: 30 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, female
School: Studied English at Western Illinois University in Georgia; completed Bachelor degree in 1999


"Talent And Ability Will Land You A Job...
Most people are surprised by how much their ability really dictates who will hire them and who will not. In this field many are discouraged by the myths that there is not any work. The truth is that if you have a gift or ability that you'll have a great chance at succeeding. A big surprise for me was just how much we have to travel to do interviews and attend events." (Tech Journalist; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, male
School: Studied English at Kent State University in Ohio; completed Bachelor degree in 2010


"Your Real Training In Your Profession As A Journalist Starts On The First Day Of Your First Job After College. You Have A Lot To Learn, And You'll Be Amazed At How You Grow And Expand If You Work Hard And Absorb Knowledge From Experienced People...
One of the things that surprised me was that, after 4 years of journalism school, my first year on the job was a greater learning experience than the previous years of college. You learn an incredible amount about your craft working out in the real world, working under a competent editor and with experienced co-workers. There is no substitute for being "thrown in the water to sink or swim." The formal education was just a start and a foot in the door. Don't go out the door of you university thinking you know it all -- you are in for a big surprise." (Reporter; 2013)

Career: 28 years of experience, currently based in Minnesota, male
School: Studied Journalism at Winona State University in Minnesota; completed Bachelor degree in 1985


"Journalism Jobs May Not Be Easy To Find, But Your Skills Carry You Far...
What surprised me most is how little opportunities there are in my city, but at the same time, there are a lot of different ways to go around it. You can look to closely related fields and still use your degree." (Journalist; 2013)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania, female
School: Studied Journalism at University Of Florida in Florida; completed Bachelor degree in 2010


"A Lot Of The Work Is Way Too Straight Forward...
I was surprised how much of the job was much easier than I expected. I also was surprised how many freebies we are given." (Media Broadcast Coordinator; 2014)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Florida, female
School: Studied Journalism at Buffalo State College in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"Analog Tape Hasn't Unstuck Yet...
I am surprised after interviewing and writing pieces on many musicians and producers still rely on and prefer to record using analog tape. With all the digital software options there is still a high demand for the warm qualities of analog recording." (Writer; 2013)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in New York, male
School: Studied Journalism at SUNY Brockport in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 2007


"People Don't Give Journalists The Respect They Used To...
One of the most surprising aspects is how everyone takes you for granted and thinks that you're no longer needed. Many believe any person with a computer, a camera and a WordPress blog can do the same job that we do. There's a high sense of entitlement that people have toward our job." (Reporter; 2013)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in Oklahoma, male
School: Studied Communication at Cameron University in Oklahoma; completed Bachelor degree in 2010


"Wide Range Of Opportunities Within The Field...
Many people would be surprised about the diversity of the different careers that someone can get into in regards to internet journalism. With the changes in the way media is reported nowadays the options for journalism majors trained in internet reporting are exponentially better than in print journalism." (Internet Journalist; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Journalism at California State University - Northridge in California; completed Bachelor degree in 2011


"Writing Jobs Scarce...
Even though the Internet is opening up new worlds of media possibilities, the fact remains that there are far too many aspiring writers for far too few writing positions. Print media is dying while web media has yet to fully monetize. The job hunt will be surprisingly hard, no matter how many internships you take or how good a writer you fancy yourself to be." (Journalist; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Creative Writing at Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"There Is Plenty Of Work Waiting For You...
The most surprising thing about my career is how easy it is to get work when you really apply yourself. Many different companies and organizations need public speakers for different events, motivational company meetings, schools, etc. You can basically work in any industry if you do the research needed to get there." (Freelance Public Speaker; 2014)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Illinois, female
School: Studied Public Speaking/Communications at Eastern Illinois University in Illinois; completed Bachelor degree in 2002


"Journalism Pay Is Low...
Most people would be surprised at how low paying journalism jobs are. Most people would be surprised that these people are the first to be laid off if finances get tight." (Journalism; 2014)

Career: 30 years of experience, currently based in Georgia, male
School: Studied Journalism at University Of Georgia in Georgia; completed Bachelor degree in 1972


"Deadline Work Takes Time...
One of the biggest surprises to me is how fast the industry moves. Everything is expected instantly, but a certain level of quality must be achieved as well. All of this said, a journalist has to keep their mind on their deadline--which is something that can't be taught in schools. Most people would never realize how much time it takes to actually produce a few minutes on a broadcast." (Journalist; 2014)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Tennessee, male
School: Studied Broadcast News at Western Kentucky University in Kentucky; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"New Words On Paper...
Most people are surprised to learn that even though a reporter does his own investigating, usually the finished work is a lot different than what was first written. A team of individuals scrutinizes the writers words, making sure that it is not offensive or does not demean another. At least that is how it is here where I used to work." (News Reporter; 2013)

Career: 30 years of experience, currently based in Texas, female
School: Studied Journalism at University Of Texas in Texas; completed Bachelor degree in 1978


"Press Releases More Important Than Investigations...
I was most surprised to discover that most of news reporting comes from press releases. When I was younger and would dream of being a journalist, I imagined myself doing intense investigative reporting. However, most news is issued via press releases and then it is up to reporters to dig deeper." (Journalist; 2013)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in New York, female
School: Studied Public Communications at The College Of Saint Rose in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 2002


"Competition For Stories...
I was surprised to find out how much competition there is for stories. Even for the "boring" stories." (Journalist; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, female
School: Studied Communications at SUNY Old Westbury in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 2011


"In Person Is Out Of Style...
I was surprised how much work is done in the office. Working the phones, emails, etc. is often the fastest and easiest way to get in contact with sources." (Writer; 2013)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, female
School: Studied Business at Delta College in Michigan; completed Associate degree in 2003


"Stories Need Telling...
I was surprised by the amount of people I have been able to help by sharing their stories with the world. There are a million things happening everyday and some of those stories are worth sharing." (Journalist; 2013)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in Kansas, male
School: Studied Journalism And Digital Media at Kansas State University in Kansas; completed Bachelor degree in 2008


"A Dying Career Field...
Most people would be surprised how this career is dying very quickly. What used to be a very good career choice, is now a very risky career choice. It is very hard to find work." (Journalist / Writer; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Florida, female
School: Studied Journalism at Edison State in Florida; completed Associate degree in 2009


"Workload In A Newsroom...
I was surprised at the number of positions with daytime hours are actually available behind the scenes of a newspaper. I was also surprised with the hurry-up-and-wait mindset. In college it was always fast paced, and everybody did everything." (Copy Editor/Paginator; 2013)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in Oklahoma, male
School: Studied Mass Communications - Journalism at Missouri Southern State University in Missouri; completed Bachelor degree in 2006

Best & Worst Things About This Career


Publisher: "The best part of my job is being my own boss and working out of my home. The worst part of my job is that it never goes away because I work out of my home. Also, since I only employ a part-time intern, the work doesn't get done when I'm sick. However, being my own boss outweighs any of the above issues. Still, you need to be very disciplined in order to run your own business. You also need to be a risk-taker and willing to put in the hours needed to be successful." (2010)


Web Producer: "The best parts of my job are getting to make my own hours and work from home. I also meet some extremely interesting people who make up our eclectic community. I never know who I'll meet. I learn so much about new web technology as well. The worst part of my job is the technical part! We have programmers and site designers. But I hate it when a client asks me a tech question that I cannot answer. I know what looks good and sounds good, but sometimes I'm just not sure how to make it happen on the web page without our designers' help." (2010)


News Reporter: "The best part is learning new things and being able to challenge myself on a daily basis to make deadlines and find great stories to write about. The worst part is having very tight deadlines and having a stressful day of churning out story after story. One or two stressful days are OK, but during a busy time like earnings season it can wear you out. During earnings season we report on what companies have reported for their quarterly earnings and we may write as many as five stories a day." (2010)


Managing Editor/Writer/Consultant: "The best part of my job is being able to help a client come to a new understanding of their customers. I also work from home, and I really like the freedom! The worst part is the writing deadlines. They keep coming fast and furious." (2010)


Freelance Writer: "I love working with different people all the time. I get to meet people of all ages who are involved in all aspects of the town or towns I'm covering. I also get to make my own hours. I am a mom and like to work from home. I can do a phone interview and then throw in a load of laundry. While I'm waiting on the laundry, I can start to write the story. The hardest part of working from home is that you can receive phone calls at all hours of the day. If you are working on a story for deadline you have to be available to get the information when it arrives." (2010)

Career Background


Journalist

  Salaries
  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Video

Career Tips


"Become A Boss...
Try to get into management, sales, or the technical end of journalism. They have better job security and chance of advancement and better pay." (Journalism; 2014)


"Network For Success...
One career tip for this line of work is to network, network, network! People are your most important asset for gaining access to valuable information." (Marketing Writer; 2014)


"Be Willing To Travel For Job...
If you're wanting to be a successful journalist, you must be willing to go where others won't to start your career. A lot of people want jobs on-air, you have to be willing to separate yourself from everyone else who will be applying for similar jobs." (Journalist; 2014)


"Internships...
Try a lot of different internships to get experience in various different areas of the field." (Media Broadcast Coordinator; 2014)


"Networking Is Important...
If you want to successfully make it in the music industry then start volunteering and making connections as early as possible. You never know who can get you your next job." (Junior Publicist; 2014)


"Take Initiative, Get The Job...
The best advice is to go out and get clips, even if it's just on your own blog. Media companies want self-starters, and they want to see what you can do. Even if you don't have an internship at the New York Times, if you can show initiative you can get the job." (Journalist; 2014)


"Concentrate On A Specific Industry...
Find what industry you want to speak to and do your research on it. It's important to test yourself in many different settings, but do your research for which industry is most appealing to you and get in to meet with as many people as you can." (Freelance Public Speaker; 2014)


"Journalism Gives You The Skills You Need...
Journalism is never a bad investment. At the very least, you become a skilled writer and communicator. This is something everyone should have, and you'll have a jump on those that don't." (Journalist; 2013)


"Starting At The Bottom In Radio...
The best way to get a foot in the door at a radio station is to offer to work ANY job that is available. If you want to host your own show, but the only thing the station is hiring for is a Promotional Assistant, go for it! Then, once you have proven you can work hard, speak with the PD about possibly voice tracking a few weekend or overnight shifts." (Radio Journalist; 2013)


"Stay On The Cutting Edge...
Be prepared to work at building your personal brand. You must be flexible and willing to pick up the latest trends and buzzwords and then drop them again at the drop of a hat." (Newspaper Reporter; 2013)


"Always Learn More...
Always diversify. If you are primarily interested in writing, pick up skills in shooting photos and video, and editing that media. Layout and editing skills are also helpful." (Writer; 2013)


"Vital Tips To Thrive As A Successful Journalist...
If you want to be a successful journalist, get rid of your personal bias and be open to new ideas. Research and listen to your interview subjects to be able to give your readers and clear picture." (Journalist; 2013)


"Start Your Own Blog...
Start your own blog. It is the best way to showcase your work and show off what you can do." (Sports Writer; 2013)


"Your Internship Is Key...
Work within any of your school's media outlets (newspaper, magazine, radio station news writing, yearbook, newsletters) for a well-rounded portfolio. Find an internship that will pay you and use your large portfolio to make yourself look more desirable. The more diverse in your skills you can make yourself look, the more likely they will bring you on so that they can hire you after your internship." (Journalist; 2013)


"Success Depends On A Willingness To Learn Your Craft...
Being a successful writer/journalist takes learning how to write properly and in such a way as to draw in the reader. This takes practice and a willingness to write, to take criticism, to rewrite and rewrite and to be mentored." (Author/Journalist; 2013)


"Be Passionate About Your Work...
If you want to be successful, only hand in work that you are proud of. Take a lot of time for each piece of writing, and never procrastinate." (Journalist; 2013)


"Reflect Reality, Not Misstatements...
Rather than trying to play got-ya journalism, be sensitive with how you use the quotes every source gives you. Represent reality, not a slip of the tongue." (Journalism; 2013)


"Opportunities For Journalists Entering The Field...
If you are looking for a career as a journalist, the best tip is not to limit yourself and get pigeonholed. The skills that you have acquired and developed in college, or even in your current career, can help you find work in the industry if you keep an open mind and are willing to accept diverse assignments as you build your portfolio." (Journalist/Reporter; 2013)


"Get Off The Laptop, Get In The Club...
Getting tips on upcoming bands isn't something you should be doing by searching blogs and other online sources. You should be out at clubs and other small venues talking to bands and seeing who their favorite bands are." (Writer; 2013)


"Always Aim For The Highest Degree...
If you want to be a successful journalist, focus on acquiring at least a Bachelor's degree. This will ensure that you at least have a fair chance of acquiring work." (Journalist / Writer; 2013)


"Journalists Need To Be Excellent Writers, And Nothing Gets You That Experience Like On-The-Job Training And Writing Every Day...
Learn the craft of writing as absolutely thoroughly as you can before your first professional position, and learn to write fast, yet with accuracy. Even if you think you are already a good writer, you still have a lot to learn; in fact, you never stop learning about writing and improving no matter how many years to ply the art." (Reporter; 2013)


"Diversify And Suck Up...
If you want to be a successful writer, aggressively shop your work out to as many outlets as possible, and aggressively suck up to anyone and everyone in a position of power. No one cares what you can write, they only care about who you know." (Journalist; 2013)


"Advancement: Take The Initiative...
To succeed in newspapers, you have to be willing to start at the bottom and work your way up. Take the assignments and do the jobs that most people avoid or groan when asked to do. The initiative will impress the editors." (Copy Editor/Paginator; 2013)


"Finding Work As A Freelance Writer Can Be Beneficial...
You can work for a number of different companies to get work right away. It will allow you to get to work right away. There are many ways to be compensated and can allow you the flexibility to write and do different journalist-type work for different organizations at once as a freelance writer." (Internet Journalist; 2013)


"Always Accept Work...
When asked by an editor to do a story, never say no. The best way to get a job is to take the assignments no one else wants." (Journalist; 2013)


"Manage Your Time...
Learn to schedule and manage your time effectively. Set aside at least four entire hours every single day to write. You need to hone your skills and get feedback from those in the field or professors. This is vital to your success." (Tech Journalist; 2013)


"Be Willing To Adapt...
If you want to be successful in journalism you have to be willing to adapt. With print becoming obsolete, digital media becomes more and more important. It is important to embrace this change and change with it, otherwise you will be out of a job." (Journalist; 2013)


"Forget Whatever Notions You Have About The Profession And Get Ready For The Real World...
Forget any preconceived notions of being the next Woodward or Bernstein or breaking some major story and being Lois Lane. The job is fairly thankless, with long hours and awful pay and a lot of grief from readers. But, if you enjoy doing this sort of thing, there's nothing better." (Reporter; 2013)


"Persistence Pays Off In The World Of Journalism...
In order to be a successful journalist, you have to solicit as much of your own work as possible, and will often be asked to provide your own ideas to a publication. In all likelihood, you will be expected to conduct all of the research involved in the project, and may even have to provide your own photography. Persistent is key, and assignment-based writing is usually the reward that follows the initial one-man-band style effort." (Freelance Writer; 2013)


"Be Willing To Compromise...
In order to be successful, a person must be able to work with all types of people, being able to understand what makes everyone who they are. They should never be shy about asking questions and once the questions are answered, they must realize that their original words may not come out exactly as they were written." (News Reporter; 2013)


"Money Isn't Everything...
Learn to like your job because it is not a high paying field. Freelancing can help you to earn money too." (Journalist/Editor; 2013)


"Accuracy In Your Reporting...
Intern while in college to ensure that this is the line of work you want to pursue. Find a mentor (a working professional who can guide you). Ask lots of questions and don't be afraid to make a mistake. That's how you learn and grow. Put more than 110 percent effort into everything you do. Did I mention that you need to ask a lot of questions? Never assume anything. Triple check your facts and then check them again. Always be accurate in your reporting. Have goals and work hard every day to attain them." (Publisher; 2010)


"Branch Out...
My advice to anyone who wants to get into web design is to branch out, learning everything you can about what's needed to design web media. Those things will help you enormously, but you also need to know how to write. Learn creative writing skills. Take photography classes and learn about digital video. All of those things are necessary to excel in web design." (Web Producer; 2010)


"Build A Writing Portfolio...
1. Get published before you graduate. Write for your college paper, volunteer for your local paper, and find internships. 2. When you're close to starting your job search, set up informational interviews. That means contacting someone who's in the industry and asking to meet just to talk about his or her job. Dress professionally and bring a list of questions about what the job entails on a daily basis and see if the person you're meeting has any advice for you. 3. When you're ready to get a job, call on all of your contacts and let them know you've started looking." (News Reporter; 2010)


"Grammar Is Important...
As a writer and editor, it is very important to be extremely comfortable with the rules of grammar. You will be called upon to make sure your writing is correct and that you can correct other people's mistakes. Some tricky thing are words like "between" vs. "among." For example, if you are talking about a conversation between two people, information flows "between" them. If there are more than two people, the discussion is "among" them. Be comfortable looking up facts on the internet for both your own and other people's writing. For example, you might have to look up whether a company is ABC, Inc. or ABC Corporation. Be confident in what you do. When you are writing or editing, you need to be the expert! That means doing the research and talking with mentors and colleagues to be sure you are ready to advise others." (Managing Editor/Writer/Consultant; 2010)


"Meet Deadlines...
You need to be able to manage your time well and be extremely accurate in what you write. If you interview someone or take a direct quote, make sure you are using their exact words. Meeting deadline is critical to the success of being a writer. It is important to be able to make conversation with people. Being shy is not gonna cut it when you have to walk into a room and find the right people to interview. Before you get started, it is a good idea to write for an organization or school newspaper." (Freelance Writer; 2010)