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Become an Online Journalist: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become an online journalist. Research the education and training requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career as an online journalist.

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Should I Become an Online Journalist?

Journalists, also known as correspondents or reporters, typically cover a specific area or topic, such as sports or entertainment. As technology grows more advanced, print publications and other media sources are making the necessary move to digital formats to keep up with the trends. As a result, the increasing number of electronic news media outlets has created a greater demand for online journalists. Professionals in this field often work freelance or are self-employed and the quest for assignments or publication may be very competitive.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree preferred
Degree Fields Journalism, communications or related field
Experience Experience from internships or entry-level positions is beneficial
Key Skills Communication skills, objectivity, interviewing skills, persistence, familiarity with Web design, editing, analytical, spreadsheet and other industry software, experience with video cameras, mobile phones and microphones
Salary (2015) $38,453 per year (Average wage for journalists)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); O*Net Online, www.payscale.com.

Step 1: Earn a College Degree

According to the BLS, a majority of employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in journalism, communications or a related subject. Bachelor's degree programs in this field teach students about reporting, research, writing, editing, journalism ethics and laws regulating mass communications.

Some of these programs may also offer classes that teach students about digital media, changing technologies and how they impact the media industry. Students learn how to use video recording and editing, develop interactive story graphics and design websites. They also become familiar with computer software that combines text, audio, image and video elements commonly used on news outlet websites.

Success Tip:

  • Gain extracurricular experience. Acquiring hands-on experience during undergraduate studies can provide journalism students with a competitive edge over their peers. Internships, part-time jobs and volunteer experience working for school or community newspapers, magazines or television stations all provide students with the opportunity to gain practical experience. During an internship, students can expect to research, write and edit stories, take photos and design websites.

Step 2: Build an Online Portfolio

Having a portfolio can help an online journalist highlight his or her best work. Traditionally, journalist portfolios consist of a compilation of published clips in hard copy form. Online journalists should create website portfolios that display their reporting, writing and editing skills, as well as their expertise with digital media. When creating the online portfolio, aspiring journalists should ensure that no grammatical or spelling errors or inaccuracies are present. All links should be checked to guarantee they are live and lead to the correct pages. Overall, the website should be organized and easy to navigate.

Success Tip:

  • Join a professional organization. Organizations like the Online News Association can provide journalists with a variety of resources. Organization members typically have access to industry conferences and networking opportunities.

Step 3: Prepare for the Job Interview

The BLS reported that competition for journalism jobs is intense, especially in large metropolitan areas with major media outlets. Candidates new to the field can prepare for interviews by researching the company and preparing a list of questions to ask the interviewer. Asking questions not only shows interest, but also illustrates journalistic aptitude. Demonstration of good communications skills and knowledge of current events are also key skills a journalist should exhibit during an interview.

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