What does a journalist do?
Journalists investigate issues, generate and develop story ideas, gather information through methods and techniques such as interviews, research, and observation, and then write their stories – no matter which platform they work on. The media has changed dramatically over the years and journalists have to know a lot more these days. As a result of media convergence, they have to continuously think of how they can tell a story on different levels and in different formats. They also have to be familiar with technology and be able to deliver news across various platforms. This means they should be able to take photographs, shoot video for online reporting and use social media in the course of their work. Radio and television journalists often have to read and present the news on top of their reporting duties, while print (and online) journalists need to know how to edit stories and design pages, especially in a community news environment. Corporate journalists work for organisations where they produce in-house news publications – using the same skills as journalists working in commercial news.
Where can you work?
Journalists can work in print, broadcast (radio and television) and digital media (online and social media). They may choose to work for a news organisation as a staff writer or reporter, or be independent as a freelance journalist. Journalists can also use their skills in other communication fields. Possible jobs include:
- Community media journalist
- Content provider (online media)
- Copy editor
- Text editor (e.g. for a publishing house)
- Layout and design editor (using desktop publishing or web design skills)
- Media liaison/relations practitioner
Why study journalism at the NWU?
Journalism students are led to discover and master the new world of multi-platform journalism. They are trained to use smartphones and other technology to create content intended for audiences who prefer news in printed, broadcast, online or digital format. Radio receives special attention because handling modern broadcast technology is an essential skill. The focus on practical skills is supplemented by critical reflection grounded in theory about the media’s role in a democratic society. The work of a journalist – commercial or corporate, is placed within an ethical and legal context.
Several journalism and journalism-related courses are included in the undergraduate degree in communication studies. To be considered for an honours degree in journalism, however, there is a selection process at the end of the third year which entails an evaluation of academic performance as well as involvement in student or other media.
Honours journalism students from the Potchefstroom and Vanderbijl Park campuses as well as editorial staff of the campus newspaper Wapad attended a workshop on television reporting with Daniëlla van Heerden from eNews in May 2016. Here, some of the students are seen fine-tuning their packages.
Examples of student's work
Video by 2016 honours students.