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Career Description

A Journalist investigates leads and news tips, looks at documents, observes events at the scene, and interviews people. Journalists take notes and also may take photographs or shoot videos. At their office, they organize the material, determine the focus or emphasis, write their stories,  and edit accompanying video material. Many journalists enter information or write stories using laptop computers and electronically submit the material to their offices from remote locations.

Common Work Tasks

  • Write about newsworthy occurrences—such as accidents, political rallies, visits of celebrities, or business closings—as assigned
  • Gather news about specific topics, such as crime or education
  • Cover stories that may take many days or weeks of information gathering
  • Take photographs, write headlines, lay out pages, edit wire-service stories, and write editorials
  • Arrange interviews with people who can provide information about a particular story
  • Review copy and correct errors in content,  grammar, and punctuation, following prescribed editorial style and formatting guidelines
  • Review and evaluate notes taken about event aspects in order to isolate pertinent facts and details
  • Research and analyze background information related to stories in order to be able to provide complete and accurate information
  • Gather information about events through research, interviews, experience, and attendance at political, news, sports,  artistic, social, and other functions
  • Investigate breaking news developments such as disasters,  crimes, and human interest stories

Other Job Titles

Journalists are also known by other titles, including:

  • Reporters
  • Correspondents
  • Newscasters
  • Columnists

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
  Most employers prefer individuals with a bachelor’s degree in journalism or mass communications, but some hire graduates with other majors. They look for experience at school newspapers or broadcasting stations, and internships with news organizations. Large-city newspapers and stations also may prefer candidates with a degree in a subject-matter specialty such as economics,  political science, or business. Some large newspapers and broadcasters may hire only experienced journalists.

  Employers report that practical experience is the most important part of education and training. Upon graduation many students already have gained much practical experience through part-time or summer jobs or through internships with news organizations. Most newspapers, magazines, and broadcast news organizations offer reporting and editing internships. Work on high school and college newspapers, at broadcasting stations, or on community papers or U.S. Armed Forces publications also provides practical training. In addition, journalism scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships awarded to college journalism students by universities, newspapers, foundations, and professional organizations are helpful. Experience as a stringer or freelancer—a part-time reporter who is paid only for stories printed—is advantageous.


The median annual salary for a Journalist is $34,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $76,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $19,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of journalists are:

  • Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers - $40,420
  • Radio and Television Broadcasting - $51,270
  • Other Information Services- $57,180
  • Internet Publishing and Broadcasting - $49,210
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises- N/A

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  1%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 700
  • Employment 2006 : 59,000
  • Employment 2016:  60,000
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