What Does A Journalist Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Alyssa OmandacCareer, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz


Journalists are responsible for gathering and disseminating information. They may investigate a current topic or news story, gather the facts, and compile their information into a written news article.

Bachelor's degree
Interest Match

Most people know that Journalists present information to the public. They write articles that are released in magazines, newspapers, and online. Some Journalists may work for broadcast news companies and deliver their comments on air.

While many people understand the main role of a Journalist, they may not know the amount of work that goes into collecting, writing, processing, and editing information to produce a news article or live report. Journalists conduct interviews and spend a lot of time researching topics. Journalism involves a wide range of tasks and responsibilities, requiring aspiring Journalists to fully understand the demands of this career.

What they do

Journalists are responsible for gathering and disseminating information. They may investigate a current topic or news story, gather the facts, and compile their information into a written news article.

Pitch story ideas to editors or producers

Before investigating a story, Journalists typically need approval from an editor or producer. They may perform some initial research and assess the credibility of any leads before pitching the story idea. For example, a witness may come forward with an interesting piece of information. Before pitching the story idea to an editor, the Journalist may learn more about the witness to verify their credibility.

Along with pitching their own story ideas, Journalists may be assigned topics. Some Journalists also specialize in covering specific topics. For example, a Sports Journalist may be responsible for covering the latest sports stories while other Journalists cover political news or current topics.

Gather information from various sources

Journalists need to gather information for their stories. They may find information from a variety of sources. Depending on the topic of the story, they may interview witnesses or people affected by the story. They may also perform research online.

Throughout the information-gathering process, Journalists need to maintain detailed notes and records. Journalists are expected to follow a code of ethics, which involves providing honest information and verifying the authenticity of their sources. After interviewing an individual, the Journalist may need to verify their statements with other witnesses or perform online research to discover relevant facts.

Write, submit, and revise news stories

After gathering information, Journalists start writing their stories. The format and structure of the writing depend on where the story will be distributed. For example, a story for a newspaper or news website may have a limited word count and require the Journalist to focus solely on the facts of the story. However, a lengthy magazine article may allow the Journalist to provide more depth.

Journalists typically submit their stories to an Editor for review. After the Editor reads the story, they may request revisions and inquire about the credibility of the sources.

Travel to different locations to investigate stories

In some cases, a Journalist may need to travel for a story. Journalists who work for local newspapers may travel throughout their local region. Journalists who cover specific industries may need to travel to other states to attend conferences and industry events. Interviewing a witness to a story may also require travel.

When traveling out of state or to another country, the employer typically covers the Journalist’s expenses. However, long-distance travel is rare for Journalists who work for small or local news organizations.

Establish and maintain contacts

Journalists tend to specialize in telling specific types of stories. For example, a Journalist may focus on investigating stories related to crime, sports, politics, health, or other topics. Covering a specific topic becomes easier when a Journalist establishes relevant contacts.

For example, a Journalist who covers local politics may need to establish contacts within the local government. A Journalist who covers crime stories may develop contacts in the police department or district attorney’s office.

What is the job like


You get paid to write original content

One of the main benefits of working as a Journalist is the ability to get paid for writing, which should be something that you love to do.

You may get to see your name printed in publications

Seeing your name printed next to your story in a newspaper or magazine is often an exciting experience. You may also develop a following on social media.

You get to meet and interview a diverse range of people

Journalists often get to interview and interact with people from all walks of life, making this career interesting and full of learning opportunities.

You may get to preferential treatment at certain events

The press often gets front-row seats to public events. As a Journalist, you gain access to events that may be closed to the public or restricted to members of certain associations.


You may need to work long hours

Journalists often have deadlines for their stories. If you are not yet finished with your story, you may need to work long hours to complete it before the deadline.

Working as a Journalist can be stressful

Journalists experience a variety of stressful situations in their careers, from hostility based on the stories they cover to tight deadlines and demanding editors.

Where they work

Newspapers & Magazines
Online News Organizations
Television Stations
Radio Stations

Print Journalists traditionally work for news organizations that publish newspapers, magazines, and journals. However, the internet has expanded this role to include online news organizations that publish content on websites.

Broadcast Journalists typically work for news agencies that air stories on television or over the radio. They may work behind the scenes to produce stories for other on-air Journalists and Reporters or they may broadcast stories themselves.

How to become one

Step 1: Start developing your writing skills

You can prepare yourself for a career as a Journalist by honing your writing skills. Take writing classes in high school and consider writing for your school paper.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism

Most Journalists have Bachelor’s degrees in Journalism or Communications. However, a specific major is not required for Journalists. Many successful Journalists majored in unrelated fields.

Step 3: Obtain relevant work experience

Employers typically hire Journalists who have experience in a relevant position or related field. For example, you may increase your career prospects by completing an internship at a news organization. Many aspiring Journalists also contribute to the newspaper, radio station, or TV station at their colleges. Before becoming a full-time Journalist, you may need to work in a supporting role such as an Assistant, Researcher, Proofreader, or Fact Checker.

Step 4: Look or entry-level positions in small markets

Many Journalists start in small markets, writing for local newspapers, or working at local television stations. It is often easier to start in a smaller market and work your way up to larger markets as you build your portfolio and gain more experience.

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Artist

People with this personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.

You can read more about these career personality types here.

Journalists require integrity as they need to report on important topics without embellishing the facts or adding personal biases to their reporting. Journalists also tend to be naturally curious due to the need to investigate stories and verify the credibility of sources.

Journalists are often outgoing individuals with strong communication skills as many stories require them to interview subjects or witnesses. Your communication skills may help you obtain information from individuals who are reluctant to share their stories.

Take this quiz to see if being a Journalist is the right career for you.

Take this quiz to see if this is the right career for you.


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