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How do I Become a Digital Journalist?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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Digital journalism is an expanding career field dedicated to online news reporting. Some journalists write for online newspapers, magazines, and sites dedicated to accurate news reporting, while others host independent websites and blogs. An individual who wants to become a digital journalist generally has several options for entering the field. Many journalists hold bachelor's degrees or higher in a subject related to journalism, though degree requirements vary widely depending on employers and a writer's abilities. Many professional journalists begin their careers as freelance online writers to gain valuable experience and build an impressive portfolio of published work so they can prove their abilities to potential employers.

The realm of online journalism includes written news pieces, photojournalism, and digital video coverage of news stories. Most journalists extensively research issues, determine the credibility of news sources, take or find appropriate photos, and write informational, interesting stories. A person who wants to become a digital journalist should become familiar with various research techniques, such as searching Internet databases, as well as and online communication so that he or she will be prepared for the job. Professionals frequently work under deadlines, so quick, accurate research and writing are essential. Prospective journalists usually develop these skills over time through practice.

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A college degree can be very helpful for an individual who wants to become a digital journalist, as university courses generally help people perfect their writing and communication skills. Many future digital journalists major in journalism, a native language, or communications. They receive expert instruction on how to write clear, accurate articles and news stories. A student may be able to intern with his or her school's news publication, which may include online work. Potential employers often highly regard such college journalism experience.

Online media publishers usually prefer to hire journalists who have previous reporting or writing experience. An individual who wishes to become a digital journalist can look for freelance writing work in other areas of communication to improve their credentials and begin building a network of professional contacts. Many journalists gain experience as technical writers, copywriters, and editors. Editing experience can be especially helpful when applying for digital journalism jobs, as it shows potential employers that an individual is capable of producing factually accurate and technically precise pieces.

A person who wants to become a digital journalist can investigate different online media sources and inquire about job openings. Some publishers staff full- or part-time journalists, though many news outlets provide freelance, contract-based opportunities. Depending on the employer, a digital journalist may have explicit or general guidelines regarding the content and style of their stories. It is important for a person to understand the type of work a certain publisher expects, and determine whether or not he or she can meet those expectations.

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