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Online Journalist Job Description, Career as a Online Journalist, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree in journalism or mass communication.

Salary: Median— $48,000 annually

Employment Outlook: Very good

Online journalism refers to the reporting of national and international news via the Internet. Although it is similar to traditional journalism, there are several characteristics that distinguish one from the other. In online journalism, news can be reported in real time, that is, as and when events happen. Various multimedia elements like graphics, sound, animation, and motion video are a part of online journalism. This medium is also more interactive, and online publications are much easier to access than print or broadcast publications.

Online journalists report interesting facts and news items by following the approaches of open source reporting, distributed reporting, as well as traditional reporting. Open source reporting is when a reporter publicly discusses the topic under investigation and invites ideas and feedback from readers. Distributed news reporting is the approach whereby readers are encouraged to provide information themselves. This method is used widely since readers are likely to have first-hand information which can easily be published on the Internet. Traditional reporting refers to the method of collecting news through interviews, observation, and study of documents.

Education and Training Requirements

Online journalists need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in either journalism or mass communication. A postgraduate degree in these fields can help in getting better job opportunities. A large number of colleges and universities offer degree programs for journalists.

Specialized training is very important in online journalism. Online journalists need to be aware of basic reporting and investigative techniques. They also need to be well versed with web programming and HTML coding techniques that help in the production of web pages, digital audio, and video.

Although not mandatory, any kind of training, fieldwork, internship, or work experience can go a long way in giving one’s candidature a definite edge over others in the occupation. It is a good idea to start doing freelance assignments while still in college. This lends more credibility to resumes of freshers.

In addition to educational qualifications and training, online journalists need to be good writers. They should be able to report news items in a concise, organized, and effective manner. Employers also tend to prefer candidates who have qualities like persistence, confidence, sensitivity, and flexibility. Since criticism can often be a big part of the job, online journalists need to be able to accept negative remarks and work past minor setbacks.

Getting the Job

A number of job portals on the Internet provide information related to job opportunities in this profession. Since the market for online journalism is huge, candidates wishing to become online journalists generally do not face any problem finding employment. However, it might be a good idea to have some experience in a related field, and get in touch with professional online journalists.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

With experience, online journalists can begin working with international and more reputed organizations. Those interested in returning to academics can take up faculty position in colleges and universities. One can also shift to business and marketing departments in news agencies.

In the last few years, the market for online journalism has continued to expand at a very fast rate. More and more people prefer getting their news via the Internet rather than through newspapers. This has led to a huge demand for online journalists, and a lot of publishers, broadcasters, and other news gathering agencies are queuing up to take advantage of the new technologies.

Working Conditions

Online journalists spend a part of their day in clean and well-lit offices. However, they need to travel frequently in order to gather interesting news items. They may be required to work under all kinds of weather conditions, and in different climates as well. Work hours can be very erratic for journalists. Those interested in crime reporting may often find themselves in dangerous situations.

Where to Go for More Information

American Society of News Editors
11690B Sunrise Valley Dr.
Reston, VA 20191

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center
3909 N. Meridian St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208

American Society of Journalists and Authors
1501 Broadway, Suite 302
New York, NY 10036

Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications
University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications
Stauffer-Flint Hall, 1435 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence, KS 66045

International Symposium on Online Journalism

USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review

Salary, Earnings and Benefits

As per data published in 2009, the median annual salary of online journalists in the United States is $48,000. Starting salaries are usually around $30,000 annually, while experienced online journalists can earn more than $110,000 every year.

Online journalists enjoy employment benefits like sick leaves, paid vacations, and medical insurance coverage. Those working part-time have the benefit of flexible work hours.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCommunication and the Arts