A writing career is not an oxymoron. The writing life can be a vocation. Consider a career in journalism, for instance. It can be something that you do full-time and it can be something that can be as gratifying as any career. It can pay bills and put food on the table and fruits in the basket. Like any other professional option, a career in journalism in India requires planning and passion but importantly patience.
In this two-part series Booksoarus brings you a view of the writing world. In this post we feature guest writer Preeti Milind More a post graduate in commerce with a Diploma in Business Management. She has been a journalist with The Times of India for 3.5 years. She’s written feature articles extensively for Pune Mirror. She has also written lifestyle articles for Magic Tours of India and Sakaal Times – a supplement of SHE. She de-mystifies a career in journalism for us.
Get a Career in Journalism
Journalism has an inevitable impact in our lives. Be it broadcast journalism, print or the web, media has always brought the world to our living rooms.
Recently I saw an advertisement on Television which stated that, “In this age of technology, it is absolutely criminal to say you are lost!” Journalism has that effect on you; can you ever be lost with the media buzz around you.
So, what exactly is Journalism?
Simply described, journalism is all about collecting information and disseminating the facts and figures to the public via print, television and Internet. Journalists present the news in a manner that is useful, informative and thought-provoking.
Various Roles in Journalism Careers
When we speak of the term journalist, you could be a reporter working on the field or a sub editor, “subbing” a reporter’s copies. That’s why you should have knowledge on the hierarchies in journalism.
The journalist, in the capacity of a reporter is the most basic but essential position. He is the one who collects the story information and is also, often the one who gets the story idea! If you want to be a reporter, you need to have that “go-getting” attitude, the desire to pull out facts of a story, conduct interviews and gather first hand information (strictly!).
Some of them take a professional photographer along too. A reporter needs to have a sense of time and accuracy; the person shouldn’t shirk from going at odd hours to seize a ‘breaking news’ story.
Remember, it’s all about right timing and a different angle brought to your story that ‘clicks’! So, a reporter is the one who senses a story out of a rather mundane piece of news!
There are Special reporters also hired at times who specialise in a particular field like Education, politics, crime or Sports.
A regular in all tabloids, a feature writer gives the readers that much required respite from the regular routine news. Feature writing is about telling the readers a story, a thoroughly researched, meticulously presented story.
The difference between a feature writer and a reporter is that a news writer may not have enough preparation time owing to the urgency and timing of news. A feature writer can plan a story for months. These are human interest stories. That doesn’t mean a feature writer’s life is easier – they have to spot and juggle multiple stories at the same time.
It is not as easy to start off immediately in the field of journalism. To hone and fine tune your skills, starting off as an intern for a newspaper/tabloid is the best option. Not only would you get maximum exposure but also an inside knowledge on how a newspaper works.
Many students while pursuing their degree/diploma for journalism take up an internship and by the time they are pass out, they are ready to hit the floors! As an intern, you are either paid per article or a fixed stipend.
The story has been written by the reporter but needs an initial check:
Is the punctuation in place? Any grammatical errors in constructing the sentence? Wrong synonyms used?
A proof reader scans the reporters’ copy giving his nod on spelling and grammar checks!
Once the proof reading is done and accuracy of data is checked, the sub-editor takes the copy in his hands. ‘Subbing a copy’ involves rewriting the article to suit the requirements of the paper/tabloid.
He also needs to give an appropriate and ‘dashing’ headline which we, as readers get ‘hooked’ to! A sub-editor’s job requires imagination, an advanced understanding of the language and a good knowledge of news locally as well as globally.
If you are used to reading more than just one paper a day (like myself), you are sure to notice the difference in page layouts and space utilisation. There are some papers which are cramped with information and lose appeal. The designer comes to your rescue and places the articles, advertisements in such a manner that ensures lucid reading!
The designers receive the final articles from the Sub-editors/Senior sub-editors and also get the space page availability details.
To become a News editor, you need atleast 6 to7 years experience as a Senior Sub Editor. This person is pivotal for the smooth transition of stories from reporters to the sub editors and from there on to the Design team.
He plays the role of ‘Quality check’, and if required may re-write important or Page 1 stories, ensuring fine quality news and is second in line to the Resident Editor.
Editor / Resident editor
This person is obviously on top of the line and in contrast to what people may think, he is actually the most actively involved member in the team. He has to oversee the final quality of the paper, brainstorm new ideas for stories and is ultimately responsible for the final output. He takes decisions to hire new columnists when the need arises and has the major responsibility of keeping in line with the deadlines.
An Editor has to be creative, a calculated risk taker at times, instrumental for the consistency and continuity of the paper. Without a proper editorial head, any newspaper/tabloid working can go haywire!
Qualifications required for a career in Journalism
There are various schools of journalism where one can pursue a B.A or M.A in Communication or Journalism, Diplomas in Journalism & Mass Communication and various other certificate courses.
The journey in journalism is an unending process; every day teaches you a lesson or two.
Do you have what it takes?
So, you want to be a journalist? A journalist’s job is exciting, inspiring and a “full-of-life” kind but also involves a lot of gruelling hard work.
Be prepared for:
– long-working hours, deadline pressures, quality deliverance irrespective of time constraints, validation and authenticity of information collected
Salary Range in Journalism careers
Journalism as a career in India can pay well as you rise in the ranks.
Entry level positions start at around INR 150,000 to 200,000 per annum and mid and senior level positions are between INR 800,000 to INR 1,500,000 per annum.
For star players, the salary can go higher.
What the future holds for journalism careers: The e-paper
Social media has taken over. The need of the hour demands digital news creation. Newspapers and magazines alike all have an e-presence. That the media can influence the readers is known but the Web has a huge audience worldwide, bringing world news at a minimal cost.
Web content creation has become equally important in today’s age and hence, there are job requirements for Web designers, editors and consultants for newspaper websites.
What you can do next
It sure helps if you can build a repository of articles showcasing your writing skills and potential to those who are looking for new talent. For newbies this can be a Catch-22 situation – no opportunity > no visibility > no new opportunities.
Here’s a solution to it. Without waiting for the big break, kick-start the process by writing guest posts on websites that have a good reach.
For starters, check out Careerizma. A free platform created by the founder of Booksoarus, specifically for aspiring writers like you who want to build an online presence and highlight their researching / writing skills and learn a little about the power of SEO.
However, the Careerizma editorial team is choosy (their site’s reputation at stake!) and most writers who apply may not be invited to write for the site.
Read more about how you can use Careerizma to brand yourself and improve your online visibility for free.
Hope to see your articles published soon.
[Editor’s note: We are not responding to new queries on this page.]