In a world where literally everyone is a self-made reporter through the use of various online resources – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and more – it’s more important than ever to set yourself apart from the crowd by being a multi-talented journalist. The best way to showcase your versatility is by highlighting your strength in multiple forms of journalism, from print and editing to production and new media.
With today’s fast-paced society, it’s always good to know the quickest and most professional way to get a story out to the public. Being well-versed in the field of writing alone will no longer cut it if you hope to be a top tier journalist. Good writing skills may be the foundation for creating a hard-hitting story, but if you can’t reach the public then your work will go unnoticed and unappreciated. Content is king, but so is the distribution.
A true journalist must always be prepared, so the ability to access new technologies to break news is a must-have. Twitter is very useful for getting news to the public quickly and effectively. Although the limited character allotment for tweets can become problematic, it’s perfect for getting the word out about updates on news stories or breaking news that is of great public interest.
Osama bin Laden’s death is an example of the exposure that social media outlets can produce. There were over 3,000 tweets per second being reported on bin Laden at the time of President Barack Obama’s address to the nation.
Blogs are another form of new media that are good for reporting on news locally, nationally, and internationally in addition to building a name for yourself as a journalist and gaining recognition from prospective employers.
Keep in mind, however, you should be careful not to fall into the trap of making a blog and maintaining it with material that will garner an audience but is not newsworthy. Many bloggers reach a certain level of publicity through stories that hardly qualify as news. Although we, as journalists, want to gain an audience that will appreciate our material, we should also want to be taken seriously and take our responsibility to educate and enlighten the public seriously as well.
Being able to shoot, report, and edit video content is also a very useful trait for a journalist to have. Just being able to report as a broadcast journalist is not a high enough standard in today’s world of media production. Most journalists come as the whole package, and who would hire a reporter when a company could hire a reporter, editor, and cameraman all in one as a one man band.
Learning the fundamentals of editing and filming video can put you on par or a step ahead of the competition as a broadcast journalist. These basic skills can be picked up from video editing software, such as Windows Movie Maker, Adobe Final Cut Pro, a program that is quickly becoming standard in many news organizations. The best way to learn is through instruction from a journalist that has already edited and shot film professionally before.
Naturally, a journalist must have exceptional writing skills if they plan on succeeding in the work place, not only as a print journalist, but in any of the previously mentioned factions of journalism. Even the most qualified journalist won’t get the job if they cannot write quality stories.
Skeptics predict that print journalism will die out in coming years, but the attributes needed to become a print journalist will not. These writing skills will only transfer into other forms of media as a new age approaches, so regardless of where journalism turns next, the necessity of good writers will always exist.
Employers are faced with tough hiring decisions everyday and are flooded with applications from journalists that are all qualified. Staying well-rounded will propel your resumé to the top of the stack and increase your ability to share news with the community.
Published May 2011 Issue of the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists Byline