Being a Journalist
Nowadays the world around us is shaped by information. Which turns all people working with it into professionals of utmost importance. Being a journalist means to have a number of professional qualities, knowledge and skills. To find out what they thought I addressed my students at the Institute of Modern Journalism. Here is what I got.
Peter Stepichev, MHPI teacher, MELTA coordinator
WHAT MAKES A GOOD JOURNALIST?
Every day we read magazines or newspapers, watch TV or read blogs. What for? To know what’s going on in the world and in our country, to get information, and to entertain ourselves. Who prepares and presents all this news for us? Journalists. Like in any other profession there are some necessary components that form a real professional. Let’s try to find out what these components are. What makes a good journalist?
“Journalism is literature in a hurry” (Matthew Arnold)
Indeed, if you can’t write correctly and interestingly nobody will read you. Every article should be like a short novel and the reader should want to read it to the end. Journalists should not express their personal opinions. It’s not interesting to people. There should be only facts, laconic and not boring. Furthermore, after reading an interesting article the reader can advise friends and relatives to have a look at that and then discuss it. This is success for a journalist.
“You can crush a man with journalism” (William Randolph Hearst)
There is a belief that mass media is the 4th power. If you report that some businessman has lost his business, all his shareholders will panic and start selling shares for the cheapest prices. This man could be ruined. And there is a very important point. Where did you get this information? Did it come from a reliable source? Have you checked it? Maybe somebody paid you for this article? The main rule of being a good journalist is to check facts and never lie to your readers.
“In journalism, there has always been a tension between getting it first and getting it right” Ellen Goodman
Certainly, all people need the most relevant information. We buy a newspaper if we see an interesting headline, something that we haven’t heard about yet. A journalist should be everywhere at the same time. If you want to be the first who finds out a sensation, you will find a way to make the impossible possible.
“If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: President can’t Swim” (U.S. President Lyndon B.Johnson)
But unfortunately, in many cases, journalists present us their own version of events, trying to make us believe it. They are looking for sensation, not for the truth. It’s unfair. The aim of an article is to tell interesting facts about a not very interesting topic. But not to create these facts. Have you ever asked a question: “Why do people hate reporters?” Here is the answer.
So what are the components of a good journalist? These include an interesting way to present ideas, facts and the truth. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. We all live in the same world and in the same conditions. Let’s help each other make our life truthful.
By Marina Luytova, Institute of Modern Journalism
QUALITIES OF A GREAT JOURNALIST
How can some people observe events in everyday life, analyze them and write perfect articles which are not just interesting for most of us, but are also able to emphasize the main issues of our day and motivate the whole society? Is it a gift from somewhere up above or is it a hard work that takes a lot of effort?
As a future journalist, I think that what really can make us good in our profession is the combination of three things: skill, initiative and a strong will. We get skills from our experience and knowledge. From my point of view, a true journalist should learn as many things as he can. It helps him to be more impartial in his articles.
Initiative is also a good quality for a journalist. The 21st century is a period of dynamic progression and being active is the only way to obtain your goals and get more information from the world around. As we know, information is the essential target for journalists. Information is all around us; it is the main product of human society and the power as well. The lack of information can cause misunderstanding and even conflicts.
And last, but not least, is a strong will. Stress and the problems that we face everyday can really undermine our psychological state. And if you rotate in the center of all events, always ready to find something outstanding and interesting for readers, you should be very competitive – and that can only be possible if you have a strong will. As Americans like to say “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me”. A strong will is something that a good journalist must raise in his nature to stand against all the troubles that come with a job.
But that is not all. A journalist must also be communicative. He is supposed to be interested in the subjects he writes about. The ability to analyze the information he gets is very important as well.
But how can somebody who just started his career in the world of journalism become really good at what he is doing? Well, in my opinion, people should work hard. And, of course, it is all up to your own abilities. If you want to become somebody – do your best and become that.
By Ekaterina Nadezhkina, Institute of Modern Journalism