Journalists are responsible for researching story ideas, interviewing sources and experts, and writing articles or broadcast scripts that present the information in a clear, concise and accurate manner. There are multiple types of journalism. After you earn your journalism degree, you can pursue a career in any of the following specialties.
Investigative journalists conduct systematic, in-depth, original research. Their thorough investigation often aims 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:
- Ida Tarbell: At the turn of the 20th century, Tarbell wrote about the working conditions and environmental practices at John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company. Her investigations prompted the United States Supreme Court to find the company in violation of antitrust laws.1
- Upton Sinclair: In 1906, Sinclair wrote about the unsafe, unhygienic conditions at Chicago’s meatpacking plants, where immigrant workers faced significant dangers as they tried to earn a living. His novel "The Jungle" was based on seven weeks spent working undercover at a meatpacking plant. Sinclair’s work helped inspire the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906.2
- 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.
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. Journalists in this field work to ensure that societal powers are held accountable for their actions. For example, a watchdog journalist may monitor the actions of a major corporation to determine whether it is violating fair trade practices.
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 journalists work exclusively in audiovisual media. They are known as broadcast journalists. They are responsible for writing scripts and presenting them to the public and may specialize in a specific area such as politics or sports.
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. 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 can help you land an internship in broadcasting.
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 many different career paths 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 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 a broader field, such as personal finance.
Trade journalists covering a given topic 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.
Develop a solid academic foundation for success in journalism at Grand Canyon University. The College of Humanities and Social Sciences is pleased to offer the Bachelor of Arts in English with an Emphasis in Professional Writing, which features an invigorating curriculum designed for aspiring journalists and other writing professionals. To learn more about the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and explore our supportive learning community, click on Request Info at the top of your screen.
1Retrieved from https://connecticuthistory.org/ida-tarbell-the-woman-who-took-on-standard-oil/, January 2020
2Retrieved from https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/conditions-meatpacking-plants-1906-upton-sinclair, December 2020
3Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/1970s/watergate, September 2019
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.