Being a reporter involves many factors. You can be the face of a news station, a regular contributor to a magazine or newspaper, or you can even be a news source through blogs or social media. If any of these things sound good to you, with a little work you can have a future as a reporter.
Part 1 of 4: Gain Skills in High School and College
Step 1. Get involved in your school newspaper
If you like to write and have good writing, it is ideal that you participate actively in any publication of your school or in another type of writing program. The sooner you start adding points to your resume, the better. Even if you just have to write the lunch menu for your school cafeteria, everything works.
Do you want to work during high school? Look for a job in a local newspaper, even if it's delivering the mail. When you return home in the summer, perhaps you can choose to work on something more related to your skills and that allows you to develop
Step 2. When you go to college, seek to specialize in something other than journalism, if possible
There are many journalists who "do NOT" have a title as such; If you're naturally a good writer, you've got the hardest part covered. Of course, things are a bit easier when you study journalism, so it is also advisable to have studies in the area. But also in something else. A specialty that is more tangible (or more "practical," your parents will say) and allows you to acquire specific knowledge to write about.
- It's hard to get a good job in journalism. The good news is that, if you have another area of expertise, you will have a backup if necessary.
- If you can't specialize in two majors, consider at least taking a few courses in another skill area.
Step 3. Work in the media of your university, whether written, radio, etc
The best thing about studying at the university is that there are so many opportunities. If you are not interested in working in the university newspaper, there are many other instances in which you can participate. Make sure you get involved in something that relates to your interests. Not everything has to be perfect for now; it's just the beginning.
There are probably many groups where you can find opportunities as a writer or reporter. Many of these groups have newspapers and people dedicated to publicity to spread the name of the organization. You can be one of them
Step 4. Take a year off, if you like
It is true that going to college and studying journalism seems to be the right platform to become a journalist, but it is not always the right way. Studying journalism does not mean that you are a good writer, that you have interesting things to say or that you have the necessary contacts. So, consider taking a year off. So that? Well, you can travel abroad, find interesting stories, learn about other cultures, and "write about it all."
- This way you will have excellent material in case you find work as a freelancer. Basically, you will be a field reporter looking for international news. Remember that the competition in the western world is immense. If you travel to other countries with a different language and culture, it will be easier for you to find a job to expand your resume.
- Another advantage? You will be able to learn a second language. When it comes time to apply for a job, this will definitely work in your favor.
Step 5. Consider getting a degree in journalism
Once you've built your college degree and have taken a year to live new experiences, take the time to really think about whether this is the career you want to pursue, and consider pursuing a graduate degree. Most programs last between 9 months and a year, although they are all different.
- Remember that this is not absolutely necessary. Many people decide to work hard to fill their portfolio and make the necessary contacts. If you don't want to continue studying, don't worry too much. There are other ways.
- Look for a program that is recognized throughout the country. For example, in the UK, you should look for a program affiliated with the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).
- There are also shorter courses that are affiliated with larger institutions, which only last a couple of months. In the end, you will get a certificate indicating that you have the basic skills to perform in the field.
Part 2 of 4: Starting a career
Step 1. Find an internship
You have to start from the bottom. Spend a couple of months looking for the best possible practice; Hopefully, one that is paid. The better reputation the company has, the more advanced you will be in finding a full-time professional job.
Most companies hire employees who have practiced in-house. If you can't get a full-time job at first, consider an internship to get started in the area
Step 2. Write as a freelancer
A great way to build your portfolio is as a freelance writer. There are many websites that are always looking for good quality content. why do not you try it?
You will have to submit your ideas to various editors; the jobs will not come by themselves. Find out the name of the editor where you want to work and send them an email. Attach links to some of your articles and describe in detail the story you want to write. If you can convince him, the job will be yours. That means they will pay you and your name will appear in the post
Step 3. Maintain a digital presence
Being a reporter is no longer just about writing. You must have a website, design a blog, make videos, and have an online presence. You are no longer just a writer, you are a brand. This is the way to join the journalistic community.
It may seem silly to you, but the effort to get followers on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and all those trendy sites where you talk about yourself is really worth it. The broader your digital presence, the more seriously you will be taken
Step 4. Explore editing and other field-related activities
Knowing how to do a little of everything to complement your skills is always a good idea. It does not mean that you are going to be distracted from your real job, but it is the way to get a job and keep it. If an opportunity arises that requires knowledge of photography, video, editing, marketing or communications, take advantage of it. It will help you become more valuable to your current employer or anyone you work for in the future.
There are some jobs where this will be a requirement. Many journalists who work in one area of a company also end up collaborating with their colleagues from other departments. You may be asked to do an interview for the radio, make a replacement for a television dispatch, or help edit some material. All of these are excellent opportunities to develop your skills
Step 5. Get a job at a newspaper, magazine, radio, or television station
Now is the time: you are, officially, a reporter. Even if you live in a town of 3,000, you are still a reporter. Now is when you can relax, start drinking coffee at 10pm, and go hysterical to meet deadlines. Ah, every reporter's dream.
A good reporter should draw on three types of sources: researching written records, interviewing the people involved, and observing the events around them. When possible, use these three sources to keep your stories complete and full of vivid detail
Step 6. Migrate to a larger market
The best jobs are in the big cities. In other words, the easiest way to get the job of your dreams is by living in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, London, Paris and the main capitals. Although it is a good idea to start small, you may have to emigrate at some point to get the job you always envisioned.
Some people choose to start immediately in larger markets, and sometimes this works. If you have the money and the means, it's worth a try - but remember, you will face one of the fiercest competition in the world of work
Step 7. Work to emerge
The greater your experience, the better your reputation will be and your portfolio will be more extensive and impressive, which will open many more doors for you. Rome wasn't built in a day, and this applies to the world of work. But, in time, you will achieve your goal.
Of course, the latter is only true as long as you constantly look for opportunities. Always keep your eyes open for your next great story. The doors do not open by themselves, you must create your own opportunities
Part 3 of 4: Polish Your Skills
Step 1. Learn how to do a good interview
Vivienne Leigh (the lead actress of "Gone with the Wind") was once asked in an interview: "And what is your character in the movie?" Obviously, that's where the interview ended. To do a good interview, you need to prepare in advance. Here are some basic tips:
- Research the person you are interviewing. Know well the topic of the interview, the interests of the interviewee and its relationship with your own interests.
- Dress according to the occasion. If you are only meeting for coffee in the morning, you can dress casually. Dress how you think the person will be dressed.
- Start a conversation. Don't take out your notebook and pencil right away. Be friendly and casual. This way you can capture her true personality, not just a version of her.
Step 2. Keep improving your writing constantly
This not only means that you need to improve, but that your writing needs to become more "responsive." Imagine what it would be like if the scriptwriters for Saturday Night Live had to write the New York Times. Each platform requires different skills. You should be able to vary whenever necessary.
This means that if a job opportunity arises at a local television station, you should take advantage of it, because you already have the written skills. But when there's a vacancy for a local magazine editor, you can do that job. And most people are not qualified for that
Step 3. Work to become comfortable with all aspects of being a reporter
The 21st century started long ago: Reporters no longer just write, but also tweet, blog, make videos, and go on the air. They are present at all times and always read what others write. It is necessary to stay current. Spend your free time on these ideas to fully immerse yourself in the world of journalism.
Step 4. Build relationships with other people in the business
As with any industry, sometimes your contacts are more important than your resume. In every job you have (even delivering mail), take advantage of the connections you can make. Meet people, make friends. Your career may depend on it later on.
Much of this profession has to do with being friendly and able to relate to people. You must be friendly to make connections, to conduct interviews, to be on television, and to express yourself in writing. In short, you must be someone that people like, which leads us to …
Part 4 of 4: Have Personality
Step 1. Get the idea of working unstable hours
Being a reporter does not always mean that your work hours depend on your boss, but on the news. When important news arises, you must leave immediately. Time is of the essence in this profession. If you are excited to always be attentive to events, this is the job for you.
Over time, your schedules will get more and more absurd. You will have to work on holidays, weekends or in the middle of the night; and sometimes there will be periods when nothing seems to happen. So are the things. There is nothing like it
Step 2. Learn to handle attention (and criticism) gracefully
Whenever your name appears in a publication, there will be someone who is affected by what is written. Whether it is good or bad publicity, it is important to know how to handle it, be focused and positive. Over time, these things will affect you less and less.
The internet is the world's largest platform for negative comments. It is important to remember that everyone has different opinions and that not everyone will agree with you. Consider the opinions of others, but the important thing is that your company likes your work. If so, you will probably be fine
Step 3. Find ways to deal with stress
In a recent study, journalism was listed as the "worst career" anyone can choose. Why? Well, considering all the stress involved, you don't really earn enough. You probably won't get a big check at the end of the month to justify the absurd hours and negative reviews, so you have to find a way to deal with that. If it's your dream, in the end it will be worth it.
Make sure you are always alert to your stress levels. If you feel exhausted, add a few hours of yoga, meditation, or an evening enjoying a glass of wine and a good book to your routine. If you are stressed, your work and family life will pay the consequences. The best thing is to prevent it
Step 4. You must know how others perceive you
Especially on television, although it is also very important to know if you work in the written press. This can affect what you say, the way you say it, and ultimately, it can influence your success as a journalist.
Among other qualities, it is important that you be direct, personable and well articulated. And the only way to improve your weakest areas is by knowing what they are. The more aware you are of how you are perceived, the easier it will be to make the necessary adjustments
Step 5. Be brave, tireless, and keep an open mind
The best journalists are people with very specific qualities. It's hard work and not everyone has what it takes. These are some of the qualities of successful journalists. Do you think you have them?
- They are brave. They have to search for the stories, take risks when conducting interviews, and put their name in a post that not everyone will agree with.
- They are tireless. The stories do not come alone. Sometimes journalists spend months of research on a single idea.
- They have an open mind. Good stories require a different perspective than those that have already been explored. That perspective is what is called "thinking outside the box."
If you are a student, your school newspaper is a great way to test if you are good at this job
- Don't think it will be easy to become a reporter; it takes patience and hard work.
- Reporters always tell the truth. Do not lie or cheat with your articles; you may even face legal consequences.
- Don't harass people to interview them just because you want to fulfill your dream!