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How to Become a Journalist

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"Journalist" is a general label for a reporter who writes news stories for print or broadcast media. A bachelor's degree in journalism or communications and hands-on internship experience are the key steps to start a career in journalism. You may also segue into a journalism career by working as a receptionist or editorial assistant at a media company.

College and Internship

A journalism degree includes classes in ethics, research and interviewing. You may also take courses in multimedia and website design, depending on your program. For a communications degree, you would take classes in researching and preparing written and oral messages, such as those delivered through broadcast media. Employers also look for classes in history, political science and liberal arts. An internship with a local news publisher or station is the best way to break into journalism. Students often get internships during their junior or senior year in college. Successful interns may gain entry-level employment after graduation.

Skill Development

Reporting for your high school and college newspaper or radio station are good ways to get early experience in journalism. You also build a portfolio of articles or clips this way and can show them to potential employers. During your college and internship experiences, develop skills needed by media companies. Strong oral or written communication abilities are imperative, depending on whether you pursue the broadcast or publishing track. Interpersonal skills help you conduct interviews with sources who aid in story development. Top journalists need persistence to track down leads and follow up on stories with people reluctant to talk. Fairness is critical for journalistic integrity. Media consolidation and the rise of Internet media have caused companies to seek reporters with broad skills, in writing, reporting, photography and even videography. Web skills such as social media and SEO are also valuable, because you can help drive traffic to publishers' or station websites.