Researching and verifying
The starting point of any article or news report is researching and finding information on your given or chosen topic. You need to cover every possible angle and provide enough information to substantiate your report. Keep in mind, you may be responsible for doing research for other journalists as well and when compiling your research portfolio it needs to make logical sense to all parties involved.
You may think your next step would be to process this information and start writing, but you’re wrong. You won’t be allowed to use any of the information you have gathered unless they have been presented and verified as credible sources. This isn’t only good practice but you’ll be saving yourself the embarrassment of being shut-down for lack of evidence to support your claims. You are going to be hounded for the truth of whatever story you are covering, so be sure to know what you are talking about and where your headline claims come from.
Writing and editing
Now it is time to brush up on your report writing skills and process all your verified findings into a written report. You will be expected to know how to write an article with a headline, subheadings, a logical flow within the text and citing of sources or quotes where necessary.
Not only will you be expected to research and formulate reports but you will be expected to edit your own work and possibly the work of others as time passes. You will need to know how to adapt your work for various platforms. Be it for online, magazine, radio or television.
Networking and communicating
Starting out in a journalism career probably means that you are already connected to someone in the industry. Today, it’s all about who you know in the field and there are so many people to know in all parts of this industry. Networking is an important part of being a journalist, it will help with finding credible sources and having your reported views shared and supported by journalists who are already established in the news world.
Networking goes hand-in-hand with communicating on a more personal level. Because you are just starting out, you will need to start a following on social media. Use the networks you have made to share your views in comments and shares on their platforms and drive traffic to your accounts. The more people you have from the community engaging with you, the more motivation you will find in providing worthwhile information as well as getting an idea of what your mass audience wants to know about. Keeping your communication channels open and public also gives people a good idea of what your “voice” sounds like and what your style of journalism is.
Regardless of what type of journalism you end up getting into, you will always have to stay current with what is happening in your area, country and the world. Your job is to inform but you cannot inform if you are not aware. You don’t have to know everything there is to know about every topic, but as a figure of information, you will be expected to have an opinion. One day in your career your opinions will be highly recommended and considered, so make it a habit to be up to date with the world.
If your focus is on the motor industry then obviously, it is important to be aware of all new developments in that industry as well as its history if you want a contextual element in your reports. This way you will always have an informed opinion to give.
The beginnings of any career are challenging and overwhelming. And rightly so if it’s something you’re serious about getting into. Not to mention that journalism is such an important and necessary part of any country’s democratic efforts. You have a social responsibility to provide the people with the needed information to make fair and informed decisions.
You will make mistakes, you will be covering controversial topics of discussion and you will not be able to please everyone. But, you will learn from it, you will grow in your beliefs and you will surprise yourself with what you are capable of.
You will be working long hours and constantly under the pressure of meeting deadlines and quickly putting together a validated “breaking news” segment. But at the end of the day, if this is your chosen career, you will find a way to make it work for you.