Considering being a journalist? Here are six essential skills any journalist needs.
The digital landscape of media may have shifted the skillset for journalism, but the essential skills remain the same. Some might argue those primary attributes are more important than ever. Here are six core qualities required by every journalist.
Journalism skill number 1: excellence in writing
This skill could be taken for granted, and yet, it is crucial. An article can lose a reader purely due to poor punctuation or grammar. A good journalist will not neglect the basics. Structure, flow and the ability to keep your reader engaged are equally vital. Aim to retain the reader from the first word until the last.
Journalism skill number 2: the ability to listen
Beyond the written word, a journalist needs to be a superb listener. Interviewing individuals will add substance and real-life anecdotes to a story, and it is a journalist’s job to capture these accurately. Correctly putting someone’s account into words, in turn, builds trust. On the other hand, getting the story wrong could sabotage a writer’s credibility.
Journalism skill number 3: rock-solid research
Another pillar of credibility is research. Perhaps now more than ever, impeccable research is vital to a journalist. Readers can fact-check with a touch of a button, and you can guarantee some will. Gather facts, data and quotes from experts, but make sure you verify your work with reliable sources. Journalistic truth should be the backbone of your story.
Journalism skill number 4: a finger on the pulse
To connect with your reader, have a good grasp of what’s going on around you. This means being aware of what’s happening in your local community, at a national level, and even worldwide. Assume your readers are clued up and invested, so keep abreast of current affairs, and keep your writing relevant.
Journalism skill number 5: a solid work ethic
You can have all the inspiration in the world, but a story won’t write itself. It would help if you had a solid work ethic to get your article from an idea to eyeballs. Investigating, researching and interviewing – all of these tasks require initiative, motivation, discipline and perseverance. The culmination of these four skills will ensure you can deliver your article by the deadline.
Journalism skill number 6: digital literacy
Many journalists are now responsible for getting their writing to their relevant audience across several different online platforms. Being digitally literate is more crucial than ever. You need to be savvy with SEO, social media and live-streaming, among others. Creative use of online tools and platforms will maximise the opportunities for your article to reach a wide range of audiences.
The pillars of journalism remain, even with the ever-shifting digital landscape. These essential skills offer any journalist a foundation to approach all aspects of their craft. Teamed with an authentic writer’s voice and solid work ethic, you can build a credible reputation as a quality journalist.
Want to learn more? Consider studying journalism in our Freelance Journalism Course or our Digital Journalism Course.