Journalism as a career demands a lot, you will have to step out of your comfort zone, you are most certainly gonna be on your toes at all times.
But it’s a lot of fun too, according to this career advise.
The life of a journalist is everything ranging from fun to unbelievably crazy, hard and demanding to exhausting and squishing. Journalism is one thing that allows you to work for as long as you want, from where you want.
Journalism as a career, this info-graphics explains some of the basics.
To understand the profession better, I reached out to Theresa Moses, an investigative journalist; she answered the most basic questions people have of the Journalism profession.
What kind of Profession is Journalism?
Journalism as a career is diverse and includes a variety of jobs that are related to the dissemination of information.
Journalists are involved in gathering of information in diverse media platforms. They work as news reporters, writers, editors, publishers.
Mass Communication and Journalism graduates and graduates of English Language and Literature with writing skill might work for newspapers, news websites, magazines, television and radio stations, blogs and other mass communication organisations.
Though in recent time a whole lots of all individuals have joined the prestigious profession with little or no knowledge about the ethics of the profession.
To be specific most operators in the Social Media are not professionals and that accounts for the recklessness witnessed on the platform.
How do Journalists gather News?
As a journalist, news is everywhere. The news story finds the journalist and the journalist finds the news as well. These days, people reach out to journalists at their various media houses – newspapers, radio/television stations, online publications, etc.
Some journalists also rely on their contact for information. For example, if one covers politics, he/she will talk to people with various campaigns, political parties just to get the latest controversies and people’s comment as well.
When news breaks or an event happens, they follow up the story to wherever it leads.
Most journalists focus on certain causes, such as social injustice, a particular community, or develop expertise on a specific topic like health/fitness, beauty, celebrities, entertainment/showbiz, science, current issues/event, sport, politics, crime, human angle stories and more.
A very good journalist imbibes creativity as regards an idea of a news story. For instance, there can be a news story idea that nobody has addressed such as why the COVID-19 pandemic is not affecting infants/new-born babies or find a new way to report on a subject. News can be gotten from where one buys foods, water, everywhere; but the ability to be creative about the news story is what makes a good journalist.
Do Journalists just publish or do a thorough check before publishing?
One of the qualities of a good journalist is determination and ability to research and write accurate news report/stories.
They do a thorough research before publishing their news stories. Before creating and up-loading news content for the newspaper websites or blog posts, it is ideal for the reporter to be able to know who did it, by what medium he did it (with), where he did it, why he did it, how and when he did it to get to be considered complete.
These interrogative words make a complete and well-investigated news report, with necessary attribution.
However, in the traditional media, Print, Radio and Television, the question of checks was what distinguished one medium from the other in terms of credibility.
In some, it was compulsory; in others which sold headline, they care less.
But globally, checks, depth of investigation and effective use of English are core factors that determine the rating of a media house.
What about Investigative Journalism?
Investigative journalism simply means a reporter should deeply investigate an issue of interest such as crime, corruption in public places, any wrong-doing whatsoever even if it takes months or years to get the truth from relevant sources.
Although it is time-consuming, expensive and life-threatening as well, it is difficult to practice in this part of the world (African continent). Notwithstanding, it is still done. As a young journalist, I developed love for investigative journalism, even to the point where I did not think about the hazards and its consequences, but I could not hit the mark because no institution was willing to fund/support me.
From the few successful forays I made, I found out that my life was at risk and so my family discouraged me as they were scared.
I even tried my hands in some cases but challenges such as the aforementioned stood as a brick wall. The fact is that reporters are not well-paid as some media organisations owe salaries for months and the government is not willing to secure the lives of these journalists or fund it as well.
As a result most journalists compromise when those who are under investigation offer them advert placements in their newspapers/blog-post just to shut them up. When the stakes are high, investigating journalists are offered huge financial gratification which they must accept, or publish and pay with your life.
Another challenge can be in form of blackmail, arrest and illegal detention by security agencies, when the journalist proves to be insistent or stubborn. Some fine journalists have been eliminated in mystery deaths. Often, in such cases, investigations are equally blocked.
The ability to get dogged digging journalism is still a dream waiting to come true even when most Nigerian journalists are slated for awards, it is still very hard due to the fact these challenges come, despite the harsh operating environment.
How dangerous is Investigative Journalism and how well can it be practiced?
As I said before, if you thinking journalism as a career and decide the investigative aspect piques your interests, you should know this aspects of journalism practice are life-threatening as a result of harassment, attack on family members, kidnap, sacked, imprisonment, torture, murder, etc.
I think it can be well-practised through consistent research, retaining your audience without risks of offending advertisers inherent in investigative journalism.
Above all, you must update your knowledge and keep abreast of events locally and globally as well as building a good network of connections in both the public and private sector.
Finally, I will say Nigerians should trust most of the news that is published in national dailies and online publications, especially credible and verified sites.
Theresa Moses is a Journalist, Blogger, Brand Consultants, she is also a Film/Documentary Producer, you can contact her via mobile on +234-807-202-2024, E-mail, Instagram, LinkedIn,Twitter and Facebook.
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