A journalist's task is to collect information, bundle it and publish it in the form of texts, images or videos. This can be done through various channels such as print media, radio, television or online via tickers, blogs, etc. In addition to editorial staff, the term also includes presenters or (foreign) correspondents who report live from the scene. The so-called “all-rounder” journalists cover the entire range of topics, while specialist journalists focus on a single department or subject area and often work for specialist media.
Journalists use various sources for their research. Face-to-face interviews, individual research and telephone interviews are the main focus, in addition to press releases and news from news agencies such as dpa (Deutsche Presse-Agentur).
As a result of the advancing digital transformation, online journalism has also become more and more important in the industry. For example, all major editorial offices now run news tickers or Twitter channels in addition to their other products. Social media content is also increasingly being used for research purposes. In contrast to traditional newspapers, which have an evening editorial deadline, there are no fixed production times or locations for online editors and information must be distributed as quickly as possible. Cross-media forms of presentation are becoming more and more important, which means that the preparation of texts, images, infographics and photos suitable for the user as well as the use of social media and SEO are now part of the regular task portfolio of journalists. Frequently, infographics experts, software developers, video producers or designers, etc. work together in cross-media teams. Even completely new job profiles, such as that of community manager, are emerging.
There are several ways to become a journalist – there are no predefined training paths. Early personal journalistic experience is essential; you will often be able to get started through a classic journalistic traineeship (Volontariat). Attending a journalist school, which is usually subject to a fee, can also be one way, but is not a prerequisite. Due to the developments mentioned above, it would be advantageous to master not only writing, but additional media technologies such as photo editing, video production, social media etc. Since permanent positions with newspapers, etc. are rare, many journalists work as freelancers. They often earn considerably less than their colleagues in permanent employment and have to carry out other tasks in addition to their journalistic work (e.g. in PR or as lecturers) and invest a lot of time in acquiring assignments and maintaining their network. In order to start a career in the industry, it is therefore advisable to establish your own contacts in the media world at an early stage and, if necessary, to have a plan “B” or a second source of income at your disposal.