If you’re thinking of becoming a journalist or are currently enrolled in a journalism program, you might be wondering if it’s really a good career path.
And rightly so – the journalism industry is changing rapidly, and it can be tough to know whether or not it’s a wise decision to make.
So, is a career in journalism a good idea? Here are insights from industry experts:
Journalism Graduate | Writer | Founder & CEO, Beauty Results PR
There’s a variety of industries you can work in and you can influence people through your words
Entering college as a business and finance major, I was assigned an elective class, “Journalism 101,” I was immediately hooked and changed my major that same semester. I was pulled in by the variety of career paths and endless creativity this career field provides.
Since graduating from Bowling Green State University in 1992, I have had the privilege of serving in a variety of journalism roles, including:
- magazine writer
- newspaper writer and editor
- newsletter editor and writer
- website content writer
- social media content creator
- media relations
- crisis communications
- ghostwriting for clients
- military public affairs
To me, the most fascinating part of journalism is the variety of industries you can work in and the number of people you can influence through your words.
Related: Why Is Journalism Important? (40+ Reasons From Experts)
While the field has changed since I embarked on my journalism career, which culminated with the launch of my own PR solo practitioner firm in 2002, the variety is even greater with the addition of social media.
I can honestly say that there has not been a single day in my 30-year career where I have been bored!
Advice to the next generation of journalists:
Pair your degree with a minor in a graphic design type curriculum
If I were to advise those considering majoring in journalism, pairing your degree with a minor in a graphic design type curriculum would be. The ability to package your story with graphics and illustrations on your own in the age of social media is vital and valuable.
Start your own blog or social media channel
Secondly, don’t overlook freelance opportunities to build your portfolio and resume. Thirdly, start your own blog or social media channel to have a proven POV for your stories and style.
Creating my blog and having those “clips” got me in the door with at least three different magazine editors I began writing for as a guest writer and columnist.
Challenge: Competing for assignments against those who are not truly trained as journalists
I believe the challenge in majoring in journalism today is that you are possibly competing for assignments or jobs against those who are not truly trained as journalists.
Instead, they might be influencers with a following but not an accurate industry educational background. Finding a way to co-exist and separate yourself as a professional journalist is essential.
The field is constantly evolving and developing, and for any entering journalists, shape the career you want to have. But no matter what, stay true to your ethical center when telling your stories.
Yet, be bold and take risks. Try writing in a new style, cover a story outside your beat, work in corporate communications, launch your own magazine — just focus on what you are passionate about writing!
Former TV Anchor/Reporter & Radio Host | Former Adjunct Professor
It teaches you how to acquire and best utilize knowledge
Yes, journalism is a good major and career path. Journalism teaches you how to acquire and best utilize knowledge. No matter what you end up doing, knowledge is king.
We are bombarded with information today. The ability to curate this daily onslaught is nearly impossible without the proper training and experience. Journalism is a path to interact with a broad range of people, which makes your understanding of issues much greater if you are willing to listen.
Related: 50+ Reasons Why Listening Is Important
Perspective, the ability to reach a more profound understanding through a collection of experiences, is vital to good judgment. Good judgment will be one of the most critical factors leading to success and happiness.
My best advice is don’t be misled by the personal agendas of some of those who train or employ you. Seek the truth always, show context, and let your audience decide what is best for them.
Lifestyle Blogger, KT Likes Coffee
It opens up opportunities for many different career paths
When I started college, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do: be a journalist. I loved writing, researching, and editing articles, so I decided to major in Mass Communications (my university’s equivalent of Journalism).
Jumping ahead to my senior year, I served as Editor in Chief of the university’s bi-weekly newspaper. I had also tacked on a second major at that point, too: English Literature.
I joked with everyone that all I did was read and write at school, but it was somewhat true. And honestly, I loved it. However, throughout those four years, I learned that I did not want to be a journalist.
Nevertheless, I still think majoring in journalism was one of my best decisions.
You can learn how to write, edit, research, and reach out to strangers
Over the course of four years, I learned how to write, edit, research, format documents, cite references, and reach out to strangers for quotes. The list of things I could do goes on and on because I did it all to a certain extent.
I was able to practice with Adobe InDesign and worked on laying out an actual, physical newspaper. Every other week I sent off an InDesign file to the local printer.
I saw how a newspaper is physically made, and I picked up all those newspapers and placed them around campus every two weeks with my own two hands (and the help of other staffers). I learned about media ethics and media law which was all new to me.
Everyone always seems to think of journalism as an “easy” major, but it was hard work. And, working in the newspaper didn’t count for anything in regard to course credit or paid work. It was like an unpaid internship, so to speak.
But, through everything I had access to at school, I realized that what I really liked about journalism wasn’t the journalistic side of things at all.
Running a newspaper, writing for a newspaper, taking photos for a newspaper — it just didn’t appeal to me as a career after a while. But deadlines, writing in a general sense, and researching — I enjoyed that part.
Related: 40+ Reasons Why Research Is Important in Education
So once I graduated from college, I pursued other endeavors and applied for different jobs outside of journalism. But my degree got me in the door in a lot of ways.
I now work full-time as a Proposals and Contracts Manager for a small business, and I have my own blog too.
At my day job, I send out hundreds of emails and communicate with government customers across the country and around the world. I have deadlines for bid packages, and I know how to manage those deadlines because of my journalism major.
You can learn how to write and craft professional email responses
I know how to write and craft professional email responses to Majors, Captains, and Generals in the Air Force, Navy, and Army, as well as create winning bid packages, thanks to my journalism major.
Had I majored in something different, I don’t think I would have the strong communication skills and writing skills I have today. And I know that those skills really can take me anywhere.
Majoring in journalism provided a strong foundation for me. Because of that, I think it is a good major as it opens up opportunities for many different career paths.
Mia Manzano Bayuga
Former Broadcaster & Journalist | Lead Marketing & Communications, Curacubby
It presented us with an opportunity to empower the informed
I entered my professional journalism career through radio which demanded effective verbal communication skills to make up for the lack of visual storytelling.
Shortly after, I pursued a television opportunity to deliver MMA news for ABS-CBN and UFC. Through these opportunities, I was afforded my first mentor, Boom Gonzalez, further enforcing the principles that we stood by as partners on-air during our daily broadcasts.
It has the ability to carry a working professional across borders and industries
Journalism presented us with an opportunity to empower the informed. My job was to deliver information that was truthful, accurate, and entertaining. I believe journalism has the ability to carry a working professional across borders and industries.
Although I entered the workforce as a Journalism major in another country, after ten years in radio and tv, I went back to school to further my marketing knowledge in America.
As a woman in the broadcasting industry, specifically in the role I had, I found myself struggling to balance the late nights and short-notice travel requirements.
Once I had my child, I searched for a career change that would be conducive to the lifestyle I sought after to raise my child and not work to solely pay for childcare. The tools I learned while broadcasting carried me over to the tech industry, which provided me with a more stable schedule.
I now lead the marketing department for a top fintech company that provides operation and tuition management software for schools and cities across the US.
As companies are laying off staff and looking to downsize, I’ve found security in my background and skills in creating a well-rounded employee with the ability to communicate and strategize.
Former Journalist & PR Professional | Founder & Managing Editor, Drinky Coffee
Public relations agencies and large corporations are willing to pay big salaries
The PR industry means that journalistic experience and connections are highly sought after. The public relations industry, which is booming due to the role that editorial links play in helping companies’ visibility in organic search, relies on building relationships with journalists.
This means that both public relations agencies and large corporations are willing to pay big salaries to staff who have journalistic experience and connections to extensive publications.
This has made journalism a very lucrative career path if you can “play the game” and ping pong between working for agencies/corporations in a PR role and working as a features reporter for a big publication.
Related: What Are the Different Types of Public Relations Jobs?
How can I maximize my earnings in a journalistic career?
A lot of your earning potential will depend on your ability to get articles published in a large number of big outlets.
Try wherever possible to build relationships with editors of these big outlets. The best way of doing this is by publishing articles that bring in a lot of clicks (editors are judged by the number of clicks they can generate).
If you can demonstrate a track record of writing articles that bring in a lot of clicks, editors will be more consistently willing to publish your articles and will want you specifically to write for them.
You can then use these relationships as leverage to get larger salaries at PR agencies and corporations as you can all but guarantee press coverage for them and their clients.
MA in Online Journalism | Content Marketing Specialist, Drive Research
Journalism is both a great major and career path. This is a major/career choice for those that enjoy writing, as this is at the crux of the profession. Put simply, if you’re not big into writing, you’ll hate being a journalist. If you enjoy it, you’ll likely love it.
A journalism degree can prepare you for all jobs that rely heavily on writing
As a major, journalism is an excellent choice for those who (obviously) want to pursue a career in the field. However, a journalism degree can also prepare you for a career in communications, public relations, content marketing, copywriting, and social media management.
Why? Because these are all jobs that rely heavily on writing. More often than not, journalism degree programs will have students working on other vital aspects of communication outside of just writing articles. This gives the student a well-rounded view of the industry.
Journalism is incredibly fulfilling but can be extremely grueling as a job
As a job, journalism is incredibly fulfilling but can be extremely grueling. 50% of journalism relies on other people for your job — your sources. It’s essential to be a good communicator in the field because of this.
Additionally, it’s essential to be able to talk to complete strangers regularly — again, your sources! If these are elements you’re okay dealing with, the pros of the field will far outweigh these stressors.
Legal Specialist, Adamson Ahdoot LLP
It can be good or bad depending on how you look at it
Journalism is going through a transformation that can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it.
News outlets don’t place as much emphasis on beat reporting as they used to. The norm these days for a local journalist isn’t so much attending meetings, going through arrest logs, or sifting through agendas — like in the old days.
The downside is that journalists aren’t cultivating sources like they used to. They’re not ensconced inside a courtroom or a city hall — and those in power aren’t under as much scrutiny as they used to be.
These days, journalists are looking to establish their brand. They have to deal with a digital workflow and often show their work on Twitter or other social media channels. Their platforms are bigger — and they get noticed more.
It’s no longer a case when your face is on the local news, or your byline is in the metro section, and you’re known only by local news consumers. These days, you’re known by more people outside your sphere of coverage.
That can be a distraction for some — but that can also be an advantage for others. There is a greater opportunity for your stories and coverage to elicit attention. It’s no longer a case of hoping that one of your stories is picked up by the Associated Press or some other wire.
You can post your story on Facebook or Twitter, and it gets shared by tens of thousands of people in an hour.
Journalists aren’t as focused on local news as they used to be. But opportunities for fame and influence are more significant than ever before.
Former Journalist | Content & Marketing Director, Autopadre
Journalists are responsible for ensuring that the truth survives
We live in an age where the news cycle is dominated by conspiracy theories, fake fluff, and nonsense designed to subvert public opinion and mainstream belief. Now more than ever, we need people who are dedicated to ensuring that the truth takes center stage at all times.
How can we make sure that happens?
- by becoming avatars for honesty
- telling the truth regardless of the consequences
- writing and reporting the stories that need to be told
It’s too easy to pass the buck and think that someone else will become the voice of reason in an insane world, but that kind of blinkered thought leads to the death of truth.
And journalism is the last weapon in the arsenal of truth that we have, and we have a collective responsibility to make sure that the truth survives. The only way to do that is by pursuing journalism and becoming the reporters the world deserves and needs.
Founder, Beginner Guitar HQ
There are several reasons why journalism is and will always be a legitimate major. Here are some:
We wouldn’t hear about vital news without journalists
Journalism is how we get our news. Without people willing to write or speak on vital issues, we wouldn’t hear about them.
This is important for:
- political cases
- government happenings
- celebrity deaths
- disease awareness and disclosure
- medical information, just to name a few
In this day and age, most of us use Google to ask questions; we need journalists to write the information.
Journalism is a writing-heavy venture
It asks you to follow certain AP conventions most of the time. This writing can help get you into other positions like technical writing, grant writing, and many different writing positions.
So, just because a person majors in journalism does not mean that is where they need to seek employment.
CEO & Founder, Smart Singapore
Journalism is a worth it job and an in-demand career
If you want to work in broadcast journalism and have a passion for multimedia, your communication skills on camera should be excellent. Journalism is a rewarding career path, but it is not without its difficulties.
Many people find it to be an excellent career.
To succeed, however, you must be passionate about news, current events, and media. If you want to work in print media, you should have a solid foundation of writing skills before you start.
Journalists play a vital role in any democratic society.
They hold those in power accountable for their actions as information gatekeepers. In short, mass communication keeps the public informed, and an informed public makes better decisions.
Once upon a time, most journalists began their careers by obtaining an internship and working their way up through media companies. However, the more common route into the industry nowadays is to study journalism, earn a journalism degree, and then work as a graduate in a media organization.
Journalism is a rewarding career because it informs the public about issues that are important to them and keeps those in power in check. There are more lucrative options if you are only interested in this career for financial reasons.
Journalism jobs are more diverse than ever, with many graduates working in public relations and content writing.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if journalism is right for me?
To determine if journalism is the right career path for you, you must evaluate your interests, skills, and personal characteristics. Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering a career in journalism:
Interest and passion: Do you enjoy following current events, engaging with the news, and learning about different topics? Are you passionate about telling stories and sharing information with others?
Communication skills: Can you write and speak well and convey complex ideas clearly and engagingly? Are you comfortable interviewing people and asking insightful questions?
Curiosity and critical thinking: Do you have a natural curiosity and desire to delve into topics? Can you critically analyze information and discern truth from multiple perspectives?
Adaptability: Are you comfortable adapting to new technologies, platforms, and formats for storytelling? Can you keep up with the ever-changing media landscape?
Resilience: Can you handle and bounce back from criticism, rejection, and setbacks and stick to your goals?
Ethical considerations: Are you committed to upholding ethical standards, maintaining integrity, and ensuring accuracy and fairness in your reporting?
Stress management: Can you work effectively under tight deadlines, high pressure, and potentially difficult situations?
Flexibility and independence: Are you open to exploring different career paths within journalism and possibly working as a freelancer?
If you can answer “yes” to most of these questions, journalism may be a suitable career choice for you. It may also be helpful to talk to professionals in the field, participate in journalism workshops or internships, and attend related degree programs to better understand the career field before making a final decision.
Is there a lot of competition in the field?
Yes, there is a lot of competition in the field of journalism. The industry has changed in recent years with the rise of digital media, which has led to a decline in traditional printed newspapers and magazines.
As a result, job opportunities in traditional media have become more limited, increasing competition for available positions.
In addition, the accessibility of digital platforms has led to a surge in the number of freelance journalists and content creators, further intensifying the competitive situation. Entry-level positions, in particular, can be fiercely competitive, with many aspiring journalists vying for a limited number of jobs.
However, it’s important to note that journalism skills are transferable to several related fields, such as content marketing, public relations, and corporate communications.
Staying flexible and open to opportunities in these areas can increase your chances of a rewarding career in the broader media and communications sector.
To stand out in the highly competitive journalism job market, focus on building a strong portfolio, gaining hands-on experience through internships or freelance work, networking with industry professionals, and continually expanding your skills and knowledge of the latest trends and technologies in the field.
How can I improve my writing skills as a journalism student?
Good writing skills are essential for a journalism career. To improve your writing skills, consider the following tips:
Write regularly: Practice makes perfect. Write daily, whether for a blog, magazine, or college publication, to develop your skills and find your voice.
Read a lot: Expose yourself to different writing styles and genres by reading newspapers, magazines, books, and online articles. Analyzing the work of others can help you understand different storytelling techniques.
Seek feedback: Share your work with peers, professors, or mentors for constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement.
Revise and edit: Learn to thoroughly revise and edit your work to eliminate errors and refine your prose.
Attend workshops and conferences: Participating in writing workshops, seminars, or conferences can provide valuable insights, tips, and networking opportunities.
Is it stressful to be a journalist?
Working as a journalist can indeed be stressful, depending on the specific role, the work environment, and the type of stories being reported. Some common stressors in the profession include:
Tight deadlines: Journalists often work under strict deadlines, which can lead to a high-pressure environment and requires good time management.
Fast-paced industry: The news cycle is constantly evolving, requiring journalists to stay abreast of current events and respond quickly to breaking news.
High expectations: Journalists are expected to maintain accuracy, objectivity, and ethical standards in their reporting, which can be challenging when dealing with complex or sensitive issues.
Unpredictable work schedules: Depending on the beat or assignment, journalists may have to work irregular hours, weekends, or holidays, which can disrupt the work-life balance.
Emotional toll: Covering difficult or traumatic events such as natural disasters, conflicts, or tragedies can take an emotional toll on journalists over time.
Job insecurity: The changing media landscape and competition in the industry can lead to job insecurity, which increases stress in the profession.
Online harassment: Journalists, especially those covering controversial topics, can be harassed or criticized online, which can be emotionally draining.
However, not all journalism roles involve high levels of stress, and some journalists thrive in fast-paced, high-pressure environments. Effective stress management techniques, strong support networks, and a passion for storytelling can help mitigate the stressors associated with the profession.
It’s essential to consider your own stress tolerance and the specific demands of a journalism career when deciding if this is the right path for you.
What ethical considerations apply to journalists?
Journalists have a responsibility to provide accurate, fair, and unbiased information to the public. Key ethical considerations include:
Accuracy: Check facts and sources before publishing or broadcasting a story.
Objectivity: Strive to be impartial, present different perspectives, and avoid personal bias.
Accountability: Admit and correct mistakes, and be transparent about your reporting process.
Minimize harm: Be sensitive and discreet when reporting on sensitive or controversial issues, and consider the potential impact on individuals or communities.
Be independent: Avoid conflicts of interest and maintain a clear separation between editorial content and advertising or sponsored content.
What should I know before studying journalism?
Before you study journalism, getting a clear picture of the field, its challenges, and opportunities is vital. Here are some critical points to consider before you decide to study journalism:
Passion for storytelling and current events: A successful journalism career requires a strong interest in current social issues and stories. Ensure you are truly passionate about these aspects before starting a journalism degree.
Evolving media landscape: The journalism industry constantly changes as new technologies and platforms emerge. Be prepared to adapt and keep up with the latest trends and developments.
Develop a broad range of skills: Journalism involves various skills, including writing, editing, research, interviewing, and multimedia production. Be prepared to learn and master different skills throughout your studies and career.
Importance of internships and hands-on experience: Gaining practical experience through internships, contributing to campus publications, or freelance work is critical to building a strong portfolio and improving your employability.
Potential challenges: Journalism can be demanding, with irregular hours, tight deadlines, and high stress. Be prepared to deal with these challenges and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
Writing skills: Good writing skills are critical in journalism. Improve your writing skills by regularly practicing, seeking feedback, and analyzing the work of professional journalists.
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