Journalists investigate, gather and share the news with the general public. They can work for various outlets, such as newspapers, magazines, television stations and websites. While the daily life of a journalist may vary based on your specific role, you can expect to write and produce news stories that keep the community informed. Understanding what a day in the life of a journalist looks like can help you decide whether news reporting is right for you.
In this article, we discuss a journalist’s schedule, what their typical day looks like, and answer frequently asked questions about this career.
What’s a journalist’s schedule?
A journalist has a schedule that often varies due to the nature of their work. They often spend their days collecting information for their stories through interviews, either in person or over the phone. They also spend part of their time away from the office, attending events or covering other news stories in their communities.
While most journalists work full time with 40-hour regular workweeks, their specific schedule depends on their assignments. Therefore, while they often work during regular business hours, some may work on weekends and evenings. They may also work overtime to obtain the necessary information for a story.
A day in the life of a journalist
Whether covering breaking news or conducting interviews, a journalist has many duties that often change daily. While their duties can vary based on their job, journalists typically have the same general tasks.
Here’s a look at a day in the life of a journalist through their varied responsibilities:
Staying informed of the latest news
As a journalist, it’s essential to know of any breaking news as it happens. No matter the day or time, journalists spend part of their schedule researching the latest news, current events and trends by interviewing sources and checking credible news websites and social media platforms. Researching helps them stay informed and pitch story ideas. Journalists may also work as editors and assign reporters to stories in this role.
Researching assigned stories
Journalists spend their day performing in-depth research when they have an assignment. This involves finding relevant sources to interview, scheduling and completing interviews and verifying facts and numbers. With enough research, journalists can provide the public with the most accurate and thorough news on everything from news to sports, arts and culture.
Once a journalist finds the sources for their assignment, they schedule and conduct phone or in-person interviews. For example, they may interview city council members and community members outside of a polling station or speak with musicians before an upcoming concert.
Journalists make sure to speak with the right people so they can include accurate and relevant information in their stories. A good journalist interviews sources who reflect varied viewpoints on a story to provide as comprehensive an account as possible. This helps journalists create objective reports so readers can develop their own opinions.
Writing or reporting news
Once journalists research their assignments and interview the right sources, they use the information they’ve gathered to create a clear, informative and engaging story. Broadcast journalists work with video cameras and sound to create TV news stories. Print journalists write articles and prepare them for written publications. Both types of journalists self-review their work and submit stories to editors for review.
Collaborating with editors
Print journalists work with the editors who review their submitted assignments. If an editor requests changes to a written piece, a journalist makes corrections or adds more information to provide greater clarity. With the help of an editor and effective communication, a journalist can ensure a strong article that offers precise and pertinent news coverage. Additionally, journalists collaborate with editors to brainstorm new story topics based on the latest news and trends.
Frequently asked questions
What are the different types of journalists?
There are various types of journalists that you may find interesting, including:
What are the required skills for a journalist?
Journalists require soft and hard skills to help them perform their daily duties. Here are some required skills for journalists:
Journalists use this skill to speak with the public and ask them questions regarding a news event. Their interviewing skills help them ask the right questions so they can gather insightful quotes to use in their story. If you become an investigative journalist, this skill is crucial to help piece together a story.
Working in journalism requires being able to fact check, which is the process of verifying your information with multiple sources, including primary and secondary sources. This helps journalists create factual stories and build rapport with the general public because they can trust their work. Often, journalism students take a wide variety of courses to develop general knowledge on many subjects, which can help them learn to report factually on various issues.
All journalists require strong moral principles and values. This skill helps them ensure they’re collecting and presenting information that’s accurate, fair and thorough to the public.
As a journalist, it’s valuable to have strong communication skills to interact with editors, fellow journalists, photographers, news sources and the public. Verbal communication skills can help you speak with sources or report the news as a broadcast journalist. Written communication skills can help you write scripts or produce articles for a newspaper, magazine or online media outlet.
What’s the average salary for a journalist?
Journalists have a national average salary of $47,452 per year. Earnings may vary based on your years of experience, education, skills, location and employer. In addition to a salary, you can also earn employee benefits, such as stock options, health insurance plans, a health savings account or flexible scheduling.