If you are considering a journalism major, then you might be wondering, what can you do with a journalism degree? The answer is surprisingly broad. While some may consider journalism to be a limiting degree—requiring graduates to work in the media and focus on reporting—it's actually a career with limitless potential. 

The Appeal of a Journalism Career 

For many who pursue journalism jobs, the field is less of a career opportunity and more of a calling. Journalism is defined as the art of gathering information and investigating events in order to present information to the public in a thoughtful, accurate and contextual way. At its core, journalism is an honorable career, one in which professionals strive to provide people with the information they need to make sound decisions, to stay abreast of what is happening in their communities and to learn how to get involved in their own ways. 

According to 80,000 Hours, the career is most appealing to those interested in making an impact, either at the local level or on a national or global scale. Journalism jobs are both exciting and inviting, and no two days are the same when you work in this field. 

The Impact of Journalism on Society 

In the United States, journalism is sometimes described as the Fourth Estate, referring to the integral role it plays in democracy. Journalists are called to serve as government watchdogs, holding those in power accountable for their actions and ensuring that the public is armed with accurate information about what is taking place at every level of government. 

In places where the press is free to report on the comings and goings of the local government, democracy thrives. However, journalists are most impactful when they remove themselves from the situation and report objectively. When the public views journalists as biased or their reporting as skewed, they develop a sense of mistrust in the press that can compromise the work they do. 

Perks of Pursuing Journalism as a Profession 

Depending on the types of journalism degree jobs you consider, you will find there are numerous benefits to be uncovered within the field. Some of the perks of working in journalism include: 

  • The opportunity to travel 
  • Unparalleled access to events, important people and exciting opportunities 
  • Staying informed about what is going on in the local community 
  • Working in a fast-paced environment with passionate professionals 
  • Developing transferable skills that can help you succeed in every aspect of your life 

Ultimately, professionals who work in the industry consider it a highly rewarding career in which they are able to make an impact while pursuing their passions. 

Necessary Skills for Successful Journalism 

Regardless of the job you pursue within the journalism industry, you need to develop a specific skill set to practice your craft effectively and efficiently. These are the most critical skills journalists should develop: 

The Art of Storytelling and Communication 

At its heart, journalism is all about storytelling. You must be able to collect facts and data and present them in a way that is accurate, informative and engaging. Knowing how to communicate clearly and effectively is critical to success in the journalism realm, but it's also essential to know the best communication methods and tools to leverage for a particular story. Modern journalists are called upon to determine which medium is ideal for a given story, as today's audiences are consuming news and information in new and innovative ways. 

Researching and Investigating Techniques 

Journalists are not only writers; they also are researchers. In fact, research and investigation are two of the most crucial components of any journalism job. 

According to Writer's Digest, journalism professionals rely on the following techniques to complete their research: 

  • Journalists collect data and information from credible sources, such as books, online articles, research journals and previously published news articles. 
  • Journalists interview primary sources to get direct information. These individuals are usually experts in their fields, elected officials or eyewitnesses who can provide additional context about a situation. 
  • Journalists go into the field and make their own observations. This allows them to better provide nuance and context as well as complete in-person investigations. 

The Importance of Objectivity in Journalism 

Journalists simply must remain objective, as this is the only way to gain the trust of the public and develop source relationships. Journalists have to learn to put their own personal beliefs and opinions aside in order to create reports that are free from bias, allowing those who consume the information to come to their own conclusions based on facts and data. 

Managing Time and Deadlines Efficiently 

Not only are journalists called upon to provide the public with accurate information about news in their local community, but they also must do so in a timely manner. Thus, journalism professionals must be able to manage their own time effectively and complete high-quality work as quickly as possible. In the journalism field, deadlines are non-negotiable. You simply must have your work ready to publish by the deadline or face dire consequences. 

Diverse Career Paths in Journalism 

Many journalism majors are pleasantly surprised by how many careers they can pursue after graduation. The diverse career paths in journalism allow graduates to combine their well-developed journalistic skills with their personal interests and passions, giving them an opportunity to customize their professional pathways. 

1. Journalist 

Journalists are professionals who work to provide the public with accurate, timely information. They are responsible for investigating, reporting and compiling information in a digestible way. According to Indeed, journalists in the digital era are required to connect and relate to their audience, often determining when it is best to publish long-form pieces, videos, online articles or social media posts. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), journalists earn a median annual salary of just under $56,000. Most are full-time employees, but they do not always work typical business schedules. Journalists may be required to work long hours that include evenings and weekends. 

2. Reporter 

Reporters are journalists who work in the news industry, typically responsible for gathering information, data, facts and statistics to provide the public with information as quickly as possible. Reporters may work in a variety of mediums ranging from broadcast and radio to print and online. 

Similar to journalists in general, the BLS notes that reporters earn a median annual salary of about $56,000. Reporters also usually work full-time, and depending on their job, they may not work typical business hours. Reporters need to be flexible with their working hours, as they are sometimes required to stay late or come in early when breaking news happens. 

3. Editor 

Editors are publishing professionals who review content and ensure it is ready for publication. An editor may find work in newsrooms, at publishing companies or with online media organizations. Some job responsibilities of editors include: 

  • Reviewing content for grammatical errors 
  • Finding, pitching and assigning stories to reporters 
  • Verifying that stories have all contextual information necessary for publication 
  • Fact-checking content 
  • Writing headlines 
  • Approving layouts 

Editors earn a median annual salary of about $73,000, according to the BLS. Although reporters and journalists often venture out into the field, editors are able to work in office or remote settings. They typically enjoy standard business hours; however, some editors at news media outlets may work during the evenings and weekends to accommodate the 24-hour news cycle. 

4. Content Writer 

A content writer works to produce written media that accommodates the content strategy for a given organization. Content writers may create blog posts, website landing pages, press releases, e-books, long-form articles, video scripts or newsletters, depending on the needs of their clients. 

According to Glassdoor, a content writer in the U.S. earns an average annual salary of about $58,000 per year. Content writers may be employed on a full-time basis or work as independent contractors. It is generally a flexible job, with many content writers having the opportunity to work remotely or in an office setting. 

5. News Producer 

News producers work in broadcasting, and they are responsible for selecting the stories that air on a television station. Typical job tasks of news producers include: 

  • Assisting reporters in gathering information and data 
  • Conducting background interviews for stories 
  • Approving scripts that are used on broadcasts 
  • Shooting video that will enhance a particular story or broadcast 
  • Creating multimedia content for their news organization 

According to PayScale, the average base salary for a news producer is about $48,000 per year. Similar to reporters, news producers tend to work long or overnight hours, and their shifts are determined by the 24-hour news cycle. 

6. Videographer 

Videographers are visual journalists responsible for compiling video footage and creating multimedia content for news organizations. Videographers often work in tandem with reporters, allowing the reporters to focus on gathering information while they create the visual product that will complement their reporting. 

According to the BLS, the median annual pay for videographers is about $62,000 per year. Videographers may be employed on a full-time or contract basis, and their hours vary based on the organization for which they work. Like reporters, they may have to work non-traditional hours, including nights and weekends. 

7. Data Research Analyst 

Data research analysts are professionals skilled at collecting data and information in order to provide an organization with solutions to specific problems. Given that journalism majors are trained to find factual information and present data within a relevant context, they are uniquely qualified to take on the role of a data research analyst. 

Data analysts work in a vast range of industries — such as healthcare, technology, business and marketing — according to Coursera. The BLS notes that data scientists earn an annual salary of about $103,000 per year, and the field is expected to grow by more than 35 percent by 2032. Most data scientists work full-time in an office setting, enjoying traditional business hours. 

8. Communications Manager 

Communications managers help develop and implement a communications strategy for an individual organization, and they typically oversee a team of communications specialists who execute that plan. Some job responsibilities of a communications manager include producing content for their organization, developing a branding strategy, managing the crisis communications strategy and organizing promotional events. 

According to Salary.com, the average salary for communications managers in the U.S. is about $103,000. Communications managers tend to work in an office setting and maintain traditional business hours. 

9. Public Relations Specialist 

Public relations specialists work to position their clients in a positive light, generally building and enacting a specific brand strategy. They are responsible for developing a client's public image, securing press opportunities and managing interviews. PR professionals often write press releases to be distributed to media outlets in the local area. 

Public relations specialists earn a median annual salary of $67,000, according to the BLS, and typically work full-time in an office setting. 

10. Social Media Manager 

In response to the pivotal role social media plays in modern society, most organizations today have a social media manager who is tasked with creating and implementing their social strategy. Social media managers are responsible for developing social content, increasing followers, improving engagement and responding to comments made online. 

According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for a social media manager is $63,000. Social media managers may work full time, part time, or remotely. Their hours might vary based on the needs of their organization. 

Launch Your Journalism Career at University of the Cumberlands 

As one of the journalism majors at University of the Cumberlands, you could have a unique opportunity to study a broad range of issues while honing the skills required of any journalist — regardless of the job you choose to pursue after graduation. Our curriculum is rooted in traditional journalism techniques, yet it incorporates the modern trends shaping the industry today. 

Request more information about the journalism degree program at University of the Cumberlands.