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What does a Newspaper Journalist do?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2016
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A newspaper journalist is responsible for certain aspects of conveying the news in print to readers. Usually, this type of journalist comes up with article ideas, conducts research, and writes articles. Sometimes, these duties may be shared with other journalists, so a newspaper journalist may have more specified duties than those listed above. While many journalists do reporting in the field, it is also possible to write newspaper articles from information available online or from personal opinions. What a newspaper journalist does depends on the person's career level, specialties, and the newspaper for which he or she works.

Most of a newspaper journalist's job involves writing and preparing to write. This is particularly true if a person is working in a freelance capacity rather than as an employee of a newspaper. A freelance newspaper journalist must be relatively self-sufficient, coming up with ideas and pitching them to newspapers in order to get them published. The entire process must be handled by the freelancer, including research and competent writing. Everything except final calls about editing and other major decisions may be left for the journalist to do alone.

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As an employee of a newspaper, a newspaper journalist might work fairly independently on a variety of projects, or he or she might have a more specific job. For example, some people write the same column in regular intervals, which may be about any number of topics. Sometimes, a journalist may be assigned to help other journalists complete a larger project. Working for a newspaper may require some cooperation between journalists.

While writing the actual articles is important, most of the work for an article often goes into conducting research and preparing notes on the topic. If someone is offering opinions, those opinions must often be qualified and topical in order to keep interest in the column alive. For news reports on incidents that have happened or other informational articles, evidence must be collected and interviews must be conducted. Given the time-consuming nature of this work, research often takes up more time than writing.

Often, a journalist of this type must be able to follow the writing standards of the newspaper for which he or she is working. This may mean doing some work researching writing and citation styles. Research for content may need to be performed in a specific way in order to meet the standards of the newspaper, and a journalist may be required to keep records. As such, some aspects of a journalist's job usually involve organizational and office skills.

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Discuss this Article

seag47
Post 4

@shell4life – I think that as long as you are not working in sports journalism, you would have a good bit of freedom over topics. Sports writers have to cover whatever games are going on at the time, and they stay pretty busy on this type of assignment.

I have a friend who gets to write most of the articles related to food for her newspaper. When she started out, she did receive a lot of topics that didn't interest her, but as she proved that she was a good writer and had a knack for putting a story together, the editor gave her more leeway.

She let him know that she was interested in doing restaurant reviews and publishing recipes, so he let her handle the food section of the paper. So, she got to work her way up to her dream job.

shell4life
Post 3

If you have a journalism job, do you generally have to rely on your editor for topic assignments, or do you have some sort of control over what you get to write about? I think that a writing job would be neat, but I really would want the freedom to choose my own topics.

I would imagine that journalists just starting out might have less control than those who had been there for many years and had demonstrated their talents. I could deal with receiving assignments for awhile, but I would want to eventually set my own subjects.

DylanB
Post 2

Some areas of the journalist job description are far less appealing than others. I had a friend who was newspaper reporter, and she found some of her assignments very tedious and boring.

She had to attend aldermen meetings and other meetings of this nature. She had to take notes of everything important that was discussed and decided upon, and she had to put all of her notes into the format of an article.

She said it really made her dread Tuesday nights, because she knew that she could not make any plans other than to attend the boring meetings. This was the part of her job that bummed her out the most.

However, it wasn't all boring. She got to do many other articles on topics that interested her. She never could get out of doing those meeting summary articles, though.

kylee07drg
Post 1

My sister studied journalism in college, and she got an internship with the paper in our town. She was able to learn a lot during her last semester while doing this internship, and this resulted in the paper hiring her full-time after she graduated.

She focused on what she did best, and this was conducting interviews with interesting characters around town and developing a descriptive article to go with the interview. Each week, the paper featured a different article and interview that she had done, and her works were a hit.

She interviewed everyone from artists and musicians to ninety-year-old people who had interesting stories to tell. Each person had some sort of strong ties to the community, and that was what made them interesting to the readers.

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