By Gladys Mae
Gladys is the Associate Director of Admissions & Student Services with over 10 years of experience at the International Career Institute.
There’s little doubt that journalism, as a profession, is struggling to stay relevant in the modern world. In both 2019 and 2020 there were reports that thousands of journalism jobs were cut across the UK, and while that might sound like a career path you want to stay away from, the reality is quite the opposite. Studying journalism actually puts you in an excellent position to work across just about every sector.
We’ve all got the image of Hunter S Thompson in our head when we think of a “journalist” – a heavy-drinking genius tapping away at a keyboard manically. Or perhaps a Bob Woodward, skulking around in the shadows to get the information to break Watergate.
The reality of journalism is perhaps a little less cinematic, but journalists do have a hugely rewarding skillset. They’re storytellers, basically, and that means their skills are relevant wherever stories need to be told.
Journalists that don’t end up in journalism itself might work on social media campaigns, or writing advertising and marketing copy. Some end up working on websites for businesses, or writing books – either their own, or ghost writing for others. Some end up writing scripts for YouTube celebrities, while others might provide consulting services to help business leaders or politicians prepare speeches and understand how to talk to the media in interviews.
The reality is that wherever people need to convey information, journalists have a unique skill set that enables them to articulate complex ideas easily, understand how to write in a way that is interesting and engaging to an audience, and how to tell stories with an efficiency and speed that others envy. Most professional writers these days have some kind of experience or training in some form of journalism on their resume.
Journalism can be a painfully underpaid profession. Unpaid internships are normal, and even once you graduate from that, cadets at newspapers will just barely make minimum wage, despite having an advanced set of skills. In fact, aside from the top editors at major newspapers, most journalists that remain in journalism won’t have high salary expectations – the average salary in 2021 is £23899 per year.
However, because experienced journalists tend to move into other roles, where their skills in storytelling are highly valued, journalists have a very high earning potential, and often wind up in senior roles straight away when shifting industry into industries such as marketing, PR, advertising or entertainment. Furthermore, journalists have significant potential as freelancers, as they can work for a wide variety of clients in a huge range of sectors at once, and in doing so can command significant incomes.
One of the great benefits of being a journalist is that if you’re motivated, it’s relatively easy to make opportunities for yourself.
It goes without saying that the key skill for any journalist is the ability to write quickly, compellingly, and efficiently. A journalist needs to be able to work to strict word limits, hit deadlines on time, every time, and do so with a minimum of errors (generally, the expectation is that copy will be flawless). They also need to understand the different kinds of writing that they might need to do, and adjust their style each time.
Journalists also need to be able to interview other professionals, and while they don’t need to be subject matter experts, they do need to understand the difference between good information and poor information, and be able to walk away from an interview with the story that they need.
On the plus side, journalists can work from anywhere (and, increasingly, do so, either as freelancers or “roaming writers”), and there are plenty of tools out there to assist them, including automatic spelling and grammar checkers which might not be perfect, but will certainly help catch errors before they go to the editor.
An Diploma in Journalism will equip you with all the tools you need to operate as a journalist, from courses on interviewing techniques through to defamation law, developing your writing skills and “voice”, and adjusting your writing based on publications and the kind of reporting that you’re doing.
Most importantly of all, however, is that the ICI Diploma in Journalism will not only give you the skills you need to operate as a journalist, but help you to develop your writing capabilities to operate in any field where skilled storytellers are in demand. Even if the call of journalism itself isn’t for you, having this set of skills on the resume will help your career prospects in just about every field.
Journalists remain the people that set the conversations in society and drive progress. If shaping the future and telling great stories has ever been of interest to you, now is the right time to sign up for an ICI Diploma in Journalism and learn the tricks of the trade in this exciting career path.