Digital journalism is consistently opening new doors for reporters and broadening the global conversation. If you want to plan an active role in this conversation for years to come, it is imperative that you consistently aim to take your career as a digital journalist to the next level. Should you ever stand still in this fast-moving field, you will soon find yourself missing out on all the latest scoops and news updates. This will have an adverse effect on your reputation as a leading reporter in your niche sector, which in turn will hold you back from maximizing your professional potential.
Are you ready to take that next crucial step in your development as a web-based journalist? If so, be sure to heed the advice, guidance, and information listed below.
Here are seven things you must do to take your career in digital journalism to the next level:
Enroll on a digital journalism masters course
Enrolling yourself on a digital journalism masters course is one of the best things that you can do to fully immerse yourself in the modern world of online reporting. Whether you are a recent bachelors graduate or whether you have not been a full-time student for a number of years, returning to education as a postgrad will push you to delve deeper into the world of online reporting than ever before. This form of study will force you to ask questions of yourself and the wider world that you have never even contemplated asking before, which in turn will aid you in your bid to become a far more intuitive, informed, and insightful journalist. What is more, taking part in a digital journalism masters will also help you to get your finger on the pulse of the latest journalistic trends, topics, and changes. Ultimately, this will stand you in good stead whenever you are faced with the prospect of reporting on the day’s most important and delicate matters.
Once you graduate from your digital journalism masters course, you will have the experience required to develop, research, and execute major online reporting projects. Whether you choose to work for another company or decide to go it alone in a freelance role, this experience will help you to carve out an authoritative personal brand for yourself going forward.
Hone some crucial qualities
With your digital journalism masters postgraduate qualification in hand, you will then be able to apply for higher paying jobs in your niche journalistic sector. The hard work is not over yet, though. Getting your foot in the door is one thing – actually walking over the threshold, taking off your shoes, and getting comfortable is another thing entirely! If you want to stick around in the upper echelons of your industry for years to come, you need to impress your superiors, your colleagues, and your audience members on a daily basis. To do this, you are going to need to hone some crucial qualities.
If you want to showcase the fact that you are an authoritative digital journalist, you must expand beyond the lessons that you learned in your digital journalism masters course. Here are three qualities that you must seek to cultivate:
To be a successful digital journalist, you must show yourself to be an accurate and reliable source of information. In order to produce trustworthy reports time after time, you cannot ever afford to compromise your integrity. Your ethical core will set you apart from your competitors, which is why you must seek to retain it all times and costs. Whatever you do, just make sure you resist the temptation to produce fabricated journalism. Fake news and ‘click bait’ may gain you short-term attention, but they will not buy you long-term loyalty.
Great journalists display a vast amount of courage in their reports. They step out of their comfort zone, stand their ground, ask the tough questions, and dig deep in order to uncover the truth. If you are to reach the pinnacle of your chosen career ladder, you must be bold and courageous with everything that you write about.
You are not going to get very far in your career as a digital journalist if you are not tech-savvy. No matter how skilled you are at reporting and writing, your professional progression will be held back if you fail to optimize the software solutions that you use day in, day out. If you feel that your technological proficiency currently leaves a lot to be desired, you might want to consider joining a tech community.
Enhance your photo editing skills
So long as you enrolled on a digital journalism masters program offered by an educational institution renowned for its journalism excellence, you will have learned foundational skills photography during your time as a student. If you are serious about taking your career to the next level, however, you are going to need to build on this solid foundation. To succeed in today’s competitive digital journalism sector, you need to entice your audience with images that actively engage them. What is more, you need to optimize your photography with SEO in mind.
If you do not feel confident in your ability to fill your journalistic content with intuitive images, you are going to need to enhance your photo editing skills — pronto! Here are three things you can do to achieve this all-important feat:
- Use an editing software that matches your skill level
- Experiment with the different composition techniques
- Tweak the exposure of quality images to find the perfect white balance
Become a master coder
Do you want to tell compelling digital stories that truly resonate with your target audience members? If so, you must resolve to become a master coder. Don’t worry, you do not necessarily have to enroll on another educational program in order to expand your coding capabilities. So long as you remain focused, motivated, and patient, there is no reason why you cannot teach yourself to perform this crucial digital task. Advice and guidance on how to learn coding at home can be found here.
Establish ownership of your work
You are not going to succeed in your attempt to take your career to the next level if you consistently allow other journalists to take credit for your work. If you put the effort into research, create, and publish an article, you simply must establish full ownership of it!
There are a whole host of things that you can do to achieve this all-important feat. You can add a disclaimer to your written reports stating that you would like to be cited if your content is used elsewhere, and you can actively state your name when recording videos so that the audience are aware that the content belongs to you.
For advice on how to copyright the contents of your website, be sure to check out this insightful article on the matter.
Steer clear of fake news
Everybody is a fact-checker these days, which means that you will get caught out pretty quickly if you contribute to the spread of fake news. Should you get caught up in this sort of ordeal, even if you do so unknowingly, your reputation as a reputable digital journalist will be tarnished and your audience members will find it difficult to trust you again going forward. This will have a profound negative impact on the number of leads that you generate online, which in turn will an adverse effect on the amount of money that you make from digital journalism.
Steering clear of fake news does not necessarily have to be a difficult task. The following websites have been created to help the general public differentiate between real journalism and downright ludicrous reports:
As its name suggests, FactCheck.org is the number one online resource for fact checking. Providing insights into everything, from politics to COVID-19, this platform is designed specifically to shed light on false claims.
Designed specifically to debunk political claims, Politifact is a useful tool to have at your disposal if you regularly report on politicians, parties, and manifestos.
Snopes.com is the oldest fact checking site on the Internet, choosing to focus primarily on urban legends, past news reports, and memes. Crucially, this platform cites genuine sources at the end of each article.
Although this site was not set up primarily to fact check false claims, LinkedIn is a useful online tool that you should be making use of in your quest to steer clear of fake news. This professional networking platform provides trustworthy information pertaining to authors, books, and whitepapers. A quick LinkedIn search will provide you with all the info you need to decipher whether or not an article is fabricated.
If you want to get the whole picture before you start reporting on matters pertaining to politics, AllSides is a website that you should definitely visit. This platform provides daily access to stories that fall to the Left, to the Right, and in the Centre of the political spectrum. It even lines conflicting articles side-by-side, thus allowing you the chance to make your own mind up.
Reignite your enthusiasm
Do you want to produce compelling digital journalism over a sustained period of time going forward? If so, it is imperative that you remain enthused with your work. Your pieces are not going to resonate with your target audience if they are devoid of passion, which is why you must go above and beyond to retain a keen sense of eagerness.
If your enthusiasm for journalism has, for whatever reason, waned in recent times, it is imperative that you reignite it as soon as you possibly can. Enrolling on a leading digital journalism masters program is one thing that you can do to perform this all-important task. Other things that you can do include:
- Inspiring yourself with great journalism or books written by journalists
- Taking a new direction with the niche journalistic reports that you produce
- Build your day around the specific activities that excite and impassion you
- Celebrate your wins, no matter how big or small (this could be something as simple as receiving great feedback on a report)
- Seek out a mentor that has been there and done it all in your niche sector of journalism
- Take some time away from your screen to explore the world (you will no doubt encounter something that enthuses you to get writing sooner rather than later)
- Determine what it is that is dampening your passion for journalism, and let go of it
- Shake things up, dismiss familiarity, and get yourself into a ‘new hire’ mindset again
- Audit your work and focus solely on your strengths — take a look at what it is you do well and then seek to build on it
- Remember why you became a journalist in the first place, and go back to your roots with regard to the types of reports that you produce
Have you recently hit the proverbial glass ceiling in your career as a digital journalist? If you are to overcome this barrier and move one step closer to maximizing your professional potential, it is imperative that you do not remain rooted to the same spot for too long. This will result in your career stagnating, which in turn could result in you losing the love you once had for your craft.
If you are to one day reach the pinnacle of your niche journalistic field, it is imperative that you gain a digital journalism masters degree, hone some crucial qualities, enhance your photo editing and coding skills, establish ownership of your work, steer clear of fake news, and retain a keen sense of enthusiasm for your work. Do all of that, and you will be sure to take your career to the next level in no time.