Writing for the Times: Is a Career in Journalism Right for You?
Journalists and reporters (a subset of journalism) help people understand and come to terms with what’s happening in a specific area or throughout the world. Current events shape the way individuals see the world, making news a crucial vehicle for offering context. Journalists do more than just report on current events; they conduct research and interviews and then communicate the information they uncover with clarity and accuracy.
Black Professionals Are Underrepresented in Journalism
About three-quarters of newsroom employees are non-Hispanic white, compared with about two-thirds of all U.S. workers, according to a 2018 analysis. Nearly half of newsroom staff are white men, compared with about a third of the overall workforce. Diversity in the newsroom remains far below the goal the American Society of News Editors set in 1978 “of minority employment by the year 2000 equivalent to the percentage of minority persons within the national population.” Racial and ethnic minorities make up about 40% of the U.S. population, according to Pew Research.
What Career Opportunities Are Available in the Field of Journalism?
Once limited to broadcast or print, journalists today have multiple options. Some journalists specialize in broadcast, data, investigative or political journalism. Others write and report for a combination of mediums. Others establish a personal news service on streaming services such as Youtube, and many journalists publish blogs.
Declining advertising revenue in radio, newspapers and television will hurt employment growth for these occupations, with an 11% decline forecast from 2019 to 2029 for traditional journalism jobs. However, there are opportunities in several related industries, including editors; public relations specialists; film and video editors; and camera operators.
Fields of Journalism (by Medium)
One way to define journalism fields is by the medium. These fields of journalism require similar reporting and storytelling skills but disseminate the information differently:
- Print/Online Journalism: These journalists write articles and blogs for print or online publications, such as newspapers and magazines.
- Broadcast Journalism: Reporters who share news on television or radio or online video or audio are broadcast journalists. Print or online journalists may focus more on writing skills, but broadcast journalists may have more technical video and audio production skills.
- Photojournalism: Photojournalists tell stories through photos. The photos may sometimes accompany written stories or stand on their own.
- Multimedia Journalism: This combines written, broadcast and photojournalism to create interactive and engaging stories online.
Types of Journalism Writing and Reporting (by Content)
Types of journalism can also be described based on what it covers. These are a few traditional types:
- News Journalism: Journalists in this category report on events from crime to politics—on a local or national scale.
- Feature Journalism: Feature journalists write stories that are generally longer than news stories, allowing for a deeper dive into a topic.
- Investigative Journalism: Investigative journalists work to uncover corruption and fraud, often in politics or business.
- Columnists: This type of work includes journalists who review or analyze businesses, organizations or politics featured on TV shows, radio programs, newspapers, etc. It’s based more on opinion but has journalism elements and is featured on TV shows, radio programs, newspapers and more.
- Data Journalism: An emerging field that involves finding trends and data that tell a larger story.
- Subject-Specific Journalism: Some journalists focus on particular subjects, sometimes called beat journalism. Some typical beats include sports, business, politics, arts and culture, education, travel, science and the environment, and crime.
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Undergraduate journalism majors vary depending on the school but provide students with classes that teach the basics of reporting, journalism ethics and how to report for different mediums. Some programs may allow students to focus on specific areas based on medium (like broadcast journalism) or subject. Master’s journalism programs may be more specialized in data journalism, arts journalism and more.
UNCF Schools to Consider
UNCF has 25 member-schools that offer programs for studies in journalism or mass communication, including:
The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) provides annual scholarships to deserving high school and college students interested in pursuing journalism careers.
Several scholarships are also available through UNCF:
- The UNCF General Scholarship Awards are an excellent opportunity for any student going to a UNCF-member college, regardless of their major.
- The UNCF/Koch Scholars Program offers scholarships, mentorship, academic support and networking opportunities to undergraduate African American students.
- The Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Scholarship Program awards a $10,000 scholarship to one exceptional HBCU senior each year who has demonstrated high academic achievement, strong leadership skills, commitment to community service and unmet financial need.
Students should also check with each college or university to see if there are scholarships available to study journalism.
Reach out for guidance by submitting a major interest form if you are interested in a career in journalism. Submit the form on our website to get started. And follow us on UNCF social media channels to receive notifications about our scholarships and member HBCUs. Reach out today!