Are you a news junkie? Do you have an avid curiosity? Do you like to write? If you can answer yes to these questions, becoming a journalist is likely to be a good career path for you.
The best jobs in news media go to those who have attended journalism schools. While some journalists with no formal training can have satisfying careers working for community news media, the big bucks go to those who've graduated from college with degrees in journalism.
Journalists need to be good observers who are able to report what they've seen or experienced in an objective manner. They need to be fast, accurate writers as journalists are almost always working under the pressure of deadlines, whether it is for the next day's newspaper or the 6 p.m. television news.
Journalism schools can teach you how to write good news articles if you have already mastered the art of good writing. If you've got a nose for news, a j-school can teach you how to best use it. They'll teach you the elements of an article, beginning with the lead which is the first paragraph in an article that tells readers or viewers what is important about this article, and why they should read it.
Journalism colleges will also teach you about libel, which is making people look bad when it's not warranted, and how to avoid getting sued by the person you're writing about. Journalists working for gossip magazines need to be especially careful here, always verifying facts with independent sources before airing or publishing the story.
Many major news media employers won't hire people who do not have degrees from journalism colleges. That's because they don't have the time to train journalists how to be reporters. Any training offered is likely to be geared to that specific media outlet.
Many journalists start out as general assignment reporters. That's because they're expected to be jacks-of-all-trades, meaning they need to know a little bit about a lot of things. From there, reporters will advance to be a beat reporter, specializing in a specific area, such as health care, government or education.
Reporters may be able to skip the general assignment articles, by minoring in specific topics while attending journalism schools. For example, a journalist who wants to write financial news can minor in business; a journalist who wants to report on the federal government can minor in political science.
Do you have what it takes to become a journalist: curiosity, nose for news, good writing skills? If so, you need to take the time to investigate schools which offer journalism majors. They're located all across the United States, with most colleges and universities offering a degree in journalism or communications.