Different Types of Journalists and Journalism Careers

Young female broadcast journalist reporting on location

Journalists are responsible for researching story ideas, interviewing sources and writing articles or broadcast scripts that present the information in a clear, concise, unbiased and accurate manner. There are many different types of journalists who specialize in different types of journalism. Furthermore, the field continues to change, and journalism positions are more diverse than ever, thanks to digital media. A degree in professional writing can open the door to the potential for journalist job opportunities.

In This Article:

Investigative Journalism

Investigative journalists conduct systematic, in-depth and original research. Their thorough investigations often aim to uncover evidence or demystify secrets and unanswered questions. Investigative journalists then write comprehensive articles that present their discoveries in the form of a story.

They frequently focus on topics of public significance, such as political corruption, crime rings or corporate wrongdoing. For a fuller sense of their work, consider some of the milestone exposés produced by noteworthy investigative journalists:

  • Barton Gellman and Glen Greenwald: In June 2013, Gellman at "The Post" and Greenwald at "The Guardian" published articles about the National Security Agency (NSA) and their surveillance of US citizens and foreign officials, gaining intel from a former NSA analyst. Aided by Laura Poitras and Ewan MacAskill, both articles shared the Pulitzer Prize that year.1
  • The staff of "The Wall Street Journal": 2023’s Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism was awarded to the staff at "The Wall Street Journal" for their reporting on federal officials at 50 federal agencies and their ethical misconduct and financial conflicts of interest.2
  • Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein: In 1972, these two investigative journalists exposed the Watergate scandal — a series of crimes that led to President Nixon’s resignation.3

A career in investigative journalism may suit you if you believe that the truth matters and that the public deserves to be informed about carefully guarded information.

Watchdog Journalism

Like investigative journalism, watchdog journalism seeks to expose and draw attention to acts of wrongdoing. However, watchdog journalists focus on corporations, politicians and similar societal agents in whose hands the power to benefit or harm society is concentrated.

This type of journalism aims to ensure that organizations and figures of authority are held accountable for their wrongful actions. For example, a watchdog journalist may monitor the actions of a major corporation to determine whether it is violating fair trade practices.

Types of Journalists in Broadcasting

The separation between the camps of print journalism and broadcast journalism is fading as journalists begin to benefit from working in a wide range of media. However, many journalism positions and jobs are based exclusively in audiovisual media. This is known as broadcast journalism. Broadcast journalists are responsible for writing scripts and presenting them to the public and may specialize in a specific area such as politics or sports.

For a position in broadcast journalism, a broadcast journalist needs the traditional skills of other types of journalists, such as the ability to interview people, research topics and put together a well-written story. However, the nature of the job also demands oral communication skills, confidence on screen and additional specialized aptitudes.

Today, aspiring broadcasters have plenty of opportunities to prepare for their future careers, like exploring alternatives before a traditional journalist job. For instance, you can create your own YouTube channel and practice putting together your own stories and presenting them on screen. Practicing and refining your on-screen presence may help you with a future broadcasting internship opportunity.

Journalist Jobs in Sports

If you have a passion for sports, you may enjoy the opportunity to interview athletes, managers and coaches to craft stories that engage readers.

There are a few different types of journalists within this subfield of journalism. Sports journalists may be assigned to cover a specific sport or even a specific team. They may work as broadcasters or print journalists. Much of modern sports journalism takes place online. An understanding of how to write for a digital audience and storytelling skills are essential.

Trade Journalism

Trade journalism may appeal to people with a passion for the business world who would rather observe the practices in this arena than influence them. Trade journalists investigate and report on trends in the business world. They may focus on a specific industry, such as oil and gas, or broader fields, such as technology and economics. 

Trade journalists covering a given topic are expected to develop in-depth expertise on that topic. For these professionals, building a strong rapport and an effective working relationship with the major figures in the field is essential.

Journalism Fields for Fashion Enthusiasts

If you eagerly await the published pictures from the latest New York Fashion Week or find yourself often looking online for fashion ideas, you might decide that a career in fashion journalism is right for you. Fashion journalists keep abreast of the latest trends and emerging news in the fashion industry — everything from fads to industry working conditions to the latest collection by a notable designer. They research chosen topics extensively to write articles and may be assigned to cover specific events like promotional launches.

Data Journalism

If you are interested in a journalism job and in a career as a data analyst, then data journalism may be the ideal type of journalism for you. Data journalism is an emerging field that combines traditional journalistic techniques — such as interviewing sources — with data science. Data journalists comb through databases and use statistical analysis to develop a deeper understanding of emerging stories and trends.

Travel Journalism

There are types of journalists and journalism that allows you to travel the world and write about it. Consider a position in travel journalism, which encompasses both short-term and long-term trips, domestically and abroad. Travel journalists might write about everything from the local culture and food to popular tourist attractions to outdoor recreation in the destination. A travel journalist might work on a freelance basis, for a travel magazine or for a travel blog.

Food Journalism

Do you love to cook and eat but are not sure that being a chef is the right choice for you? A job as a food journalist can allow you to combine dual passions of culinary arts and the written word.

Food journalism can encompass how-to articles, such as how to determine when an avocado is ripe or how to prepare perfect slices of fried tofu. However, it can also go beyond this to explore cultural heritage, current issues and societal trends using food as a lens. A food journalist might write a story on anything from the daily life of a food safety inspector to the rising price of olive oil.

Interested in Working in Journalism Fields?

At Grand Canyon University, you’ll have opportunities to develop a firm foundation of competencies in professional writing. The College of Humanities and Social Sciences is pleased to offer the Bachelor of Arts in Communications with an Emphasis in Broadcasting and New Media degree program. To learn more about the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and explore our supportive learning community, fill out the form on this page.

1Dews, F. & Young, T. (2014, Oct. 20). Ten Noteworthy Moments In U.S. Investigative Journalism. Brookings.edu Retrieved April 16, 2024. 

2Pulitzer Prize. (n.d.) The Pulitzer Prizes: Investigative Reporting. Pulitzer.org. Retrieved April 16, 2024. 

3History.com Editors. (2023, Oct. 18). Watergate scandal. History.com. Retrieved March 18, 2024. 

Approved by the assistant dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences on April 19, 2024.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.