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A career in journalism

Newspaper journalists, also known as reporters, investigate and write stories for local, regional and national newspapers. To become a newspaper journalist a candidate needs to have an investigative mind and should have a flair for research. You’ll also need to be determined and persistent, to make sure you are aware about the latest report. One can make a foray into newspaper journalism by pursuing a course in this subject or by working as a trainee journalist in a local or regional newspaper. For both types of entry, it will help if you possess relevant experience, either through volunteering, paid work or articles you’ve written during spare time. It is a good idea to keep clippings and printouts of your published work and present them before the potential employers. To build up your experience, you can volunteer for student and community newspapers, submit articles to websites or maintain an online journal or blog.

Newspaper journalists cover any event of interest to their specific audience, ranging from reporting on council meetings and school fetes for a local newspaper, to general elections and world events for the national press.

As a newspaper journalist, your work would typically include investigating a story as soon as it breaks out following up potential leads, developing new contacts, interviewing people, both face-to-face and over the phone, attending press conferences, recording meetings and interviews, using recording equipment or writing in shorthand, coming up with ideas for new stories and features and writing articles in a style that will appeal to the intended audience. One can opt for specialisation in a specific subject such as sport, politics or entertainment. Most newspapers have an online edition, you may also write stories for their websites. Newspaper journalists sometimes work as sub-editors, editing the news filed by reporters. They process the stories and rectify the errors in copy and also check the facts.   

One will need to remain flexible about his working hours. Following up stories, responding to breaking news and meeting deadlines can mean working long, irregular hours, including evenings, weekends and on public holidays.

A journalist will usually be working in an open-plan office, which is likely to be hectic and noisy most of the time. One will also spend time out of the office and may have to travel to distant suburbs for following up stories. If you work for the national or international press this could mean travelling anywhere in the world, sometimes at short notice.

Jubel D’Cruz

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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