Journalists research, verify and write news stories for newspapers, magazines, television and other broadcast media. They cover political, economic, cultural, social and sport events. Journalists must conform to ethical codes such as freedom of speech and right of reply, press law and editorial standards in order to bring objective information.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to journalist:

news writer
web editor
political journalist
financial journalist
sports journalist
science journalist
business journalist
investigative journalist
news anchor
crime journalist

Minimum qualifications

Bachelor’s degree is generally required to work as journalist. However, this requirement may differ in some countries.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Journalist is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Journalist career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to journalist.

business journalist
crime journalist
entertainment journalist

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of journalist. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of journalist with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of journalist.

Interview techniques: The techniques for getting information out of people by asking the right questions in the right way and to make them feel comfortable.
Editorial standards: The guidelines on how to deal with and report on privacy, children, and death according to impartiality, and other standards.
Writing techniques: The different techniques to write a story such as the descriptive, persuasive, first person and other techniques.
Spelling: The rules concerning the way words are spelled.
Grammar: The set of structural rules governing the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language.
Copyright legislation: Legislation describing the protection of the rights of original authors over their work, and how others can use it.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of journalist.

Participate in editorial meetings: Participate in meetings with fellow editors and journalists to discuss possible topics and to divide the tasks and workload.
Study topics: Carry out effective research on relevant topics to be able to produce summary information appropriate to different audiences. The research may involve looking at books, journals, the internet, and/or verbal discussions with knowledgeable persons.
Evaluate writings in response to feedback: Edit and adapt work in response to comments from peers and publishers.
Interview people: Interview people in a range of different circumstances.
Stay up to date with social media: Keep up with the trends and people on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Consult information sources: Consult relevant information sources to find inspiration, to educate yourself on certain topics and to acquire background information.
Apply grammar and spelling rules: Apply the rules of spelling and grammar and ensure consistency throughout texts.
Develop professional network: Reach out to and meet up with people in a professional context. Find common ground and use your contacts for mutual benefit. Keep track of the people in your personal professional network and stay up to date on their activities.
Follow ethical code of conduct of journalists: Follow the ethical code of conduct of journalists, such as freedom of speech, right of reply, being objective, and other rules.
Use specific writing techniques: Use writing techniques depending on the type of media, the genre, and the story.
Build contacts to maintain news flow: Build contacts to maintain a flow of news, for example, police and emergency services, local council, community groups, health trusts, press officers from a variety of organisations, the general public, etc.
Write to a deadline: Schedule and respect tight deadlines, especially for theatre, screen and radio projects.
Follow the news: Follow current events in politics, economics, social communities, cultural sectors, internationally, and in sports.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of journalist. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

Literature: The body of artistic writing characterized by beauty of expression, form, and universality of intellectual and emotional appeal.
Political parties: The ideas and principles that political parties stand for and the politicians representing them.
Election law: The regulations concerning the procedures during elections, such as voting regulations, campaign regulations, which procedures candidates must follow, how votes are counted, and other electoral procedures.
Cultural projects: The purpose, organisation and management of cultural projects and related fundraising actions.
Musical instruments: The different musical instruments, their ranges, timbre, and possible combinations.
Political science: The systems of government, the methodology concerning the analysis of political activity and behaviour, and the theory and practice of influencing people and acquiring governance.
Food materials: Quality and range of raw materials, half finished products and end products of a specific food sector.
Photography: Art and practice of creating aesthetically appealing images by recording light or electromagnetic radiation.
Law enforcement: The different organisations involved in law enforcement, as well as the laws and regulations in law enforcement procedures.
Political campaigning: The procedures involved in conducting a succesful political campaign, such as the specific research methods, promotional tools, liaising with the public, and other strategic aspects concerning the organising and conducting of political campaigns.
Musical genres: Different musical styles and genres such as blues, jazz, reggae, rock, or indie.
Art history: The history of art and artists, the artistic trends throughout centuries and their contemporary evolutions.
Sport history: The background history of players and athletes and the history of sport events and games.
Food science: The study of the physical, biological, and chemical makeup of food and the scientific concepts underlying food processing and nutrition.
Food hygiene rules: The set of national and international regulations for hygiene of foodstuffs and food safety, e.g. regulation (EC) 852/2004.
Types of literature genres: The different literary genres in the history of literature, their technique, tone, content and length.
Sports competition information: The information regarding latest results, competitions and events in the sporting industry.
Criminal law: Th legal rules, constitutions and regulations applicable for the punishement of offenders.
Economics: Economic principles and practices, financial and commodity markets, banking and the analysis of financial data.
Pronunciation techniques: The pronunciation techniques to properly and understandably pronounce words.
History of dance style: The origins, history and development of the dance styles and forms used, including current manifestations, current practices and methods of delivery in a chosen dance style.
Ict software specifications: The characteristics, use and operations of various software products such as computer programmes and application software.
Multimedia systems: The methods, procedures and techniques pertaining to the operation of multimedia systems, usually a combination of software and hardware, presenting various types of media such as video and audio.
Rhetoric: The art of discourse that aims at improving the ability of writers and speakers to inform, persuade or motivate their audience.
Film studies: The theoretical, historical, and critical approaches to films. This includes the narrative, artistic, cultural, economic, and political implications of cinema.
Sport games rules: The rules and regulations of sport games such as football, soccer, tennis, and others.
Stock market: The market in which shares of publicly held companies are issued and traded.
Sporting events: Possess an understanding of different sporting events and conditions that can affect a result.
Desktop publishing: The creation of documents using page layout skills on a computer. Desktop publishing software can generate layouts and produce typographic quality text and images.
Audio editing software: The various software for editing and generating audio, such as Adobe Audition, Soundforge, and Power Sound Editor.
Musical theory: The body of interrelated concepts that constitutes the theoretical background of music.
Tax legislation: Tax legislation applicable to a specific area of specialisation, such as import tax, government tax, etc.
Corporate law: The legal rules that govern how corporate stakeholders (such as shareholders, employees, directors, consumers, etc) interact with one another, and the responsibilities corporations have to their stakeholders.
Court procedures: The regulations which are in place during the investigation of a court case and during a court hearing, and of how these events occur.
Press law: The laws concerning the licensing of books and the freedom of expression in all products of the media.
Financial jurisdiction: Financial rules and procedures applicable to a certain location, whose regulatory bodies decide on its jurisdiction

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of journalist. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

Provide context to news stories: Provide substantial context to national or international news stories to explain things in more detail.
Ask questions at events: Attend a variety of events, such as council meetings, magistrates’ court proceedings, football matches, talent contests, press conferences and ask questions.
Edit negatives: Use different software products and techniques to process photographic negatives and adapt the images to the desired specifications.
Liaise with cultural partners: Establish and maintain sustainable partnerships with cultural authorities, sponsors and other cultural institutions.
Direct photographic workers: Direct and manage the daily activities of photographic workers.
Analyse market financial trends: Monitor and forecast the tendencies of a financial market to move in a particular direction over time.
Speak different languages: Master foreign languages to be able to communicate in one or more foreign languages.
Observe new developments in foreign countries: Observe political, economic and societal developments in the assigned country, gather and report relevant information to the relevant institution.
Do historical research: Use scientific methods to research history and culture.
Create online news content: Create and upload news content for e.g. websites, blogs and social media.
Present arguments persuasively: Present arguments during a negotiation or debate, or in written form, in a persuasive manner in order to obtain the most support for the case the speaker or writer represents.
Set up photographic equipment: Choose the best position and orientation of the camera to capture the scene, along with other necessary equipment.
Maintain an artistic portfolio: Maintain portfolios of artistic work to show styles, interests, abilities and realisations.
Apply desktop publishing techniques: Apply desktop publishing techniques and software to create page layouts and typographic quality text.
Check correctness of information: Check if the information contains factual errors, is reliable, and has news value.
Attend trade fairs: Attend exhibitions organised to enable companies in a specific sector to demonstrate their latest products and services, study the activities of their competitors, and observe recent market trends.
Adapt to changing situations: Change approach to situations based on unexpected and sudden changes in people’s needs and mood or in trends; shift strategies, improvise and naturally adapt to those circumstances.
Study cultures: Study and internalise a culture that is not your own to truly understand its traditions, rules, and workings.
Attend book fairs: Attend fairs and events to get familiar with new book trends and to meet with authors, publishers, and others in the publishing sector.
Perform video editing: Rearrange and edit video footage in the course of the post-production process. Edit the footage using a variety of sofware, tools, and techniques such as colour correction and effects, speed effects, and audio enhancing.
Select camera apertures: Adjust lens apertures, shutter speeds and camera focus.
Analyse trends in the food and beverage industries: Investigate trends in foodstuffs related to consumers preferences. Examine key markets based on both product type and geography as well as technological improvements in the industry.
Attend performances: Attend concerts, plays, and other cultural performances.
Proofread text: Read a text thoroughly, search for, review and correct errors to ensure content is valid for publishing.
Manage writing administration: Manage the financial and administrative side of writing including making up budgets, maintaining financial records, checking contracts, etc.
Adapt to type of media: Adapt to different types of media such as television, movies, commercials, and others. Adapt work to type of media, scale of production, budget, genres within type of media, and others.
Manage personal finances: Identify personal financial objectives and set up a strategy to match this target in seeking support and advice when necessary.
Monitor political conflicts: Monitor the possibility and development of political conflicts in specific contexts, such as in or between political parties, governments, or between different countries, as well as identifying its potential impact on government operations, and public safety.
Show intercultural awareness: Show sensibility towards cultural differences by taking actions which facilitate positive interaction between international organisations, between groups or individuals of different cultures, and to promote integration in a community.
Promote your writings: Talk about your work at events and conduct readings, speeches and book signings; establish a network among fellow writers.
Record court procedures: Record all the information necessary for proper record maintenance during court hearings, such as the people present, the case, the evidence presented, the sentence made, and other important matters which were brought up during the hearing.
Rewrite manuscripts: Rewrite unpublished manuscripts to correct errors and to make them more appealing to the target audience.
Meet deadlines: Ensure operative processes are finished at a previously agreed-upon time.
Perform image editing: Edit various types of images such as analogue and digital photographs or illustrations.
Read articles: Read unpublished articles thoroughly to look for errors.
Liaise with celebrities: Liaise with actors, musicians, writers, and other celebrities to establish a good relationship with them.
Record multi-track sound: Recording and mixing audio signals from different sound sources on a multi-track recorder.
Watch video and motion picture production products: Watch films and television broadcasts closely and with attention to detail to give your objective view on them.
Edit digital moving images: Use specialised software to edit video images for use in an artistic production.
Promote yourself: Market one’s own strengths in terms of skills and knowledge.
Ensure consistency of published articles: Ensure that articles are consistent with the genre and theme of the newspaper, journal or magazine.
Write headlines: Write” titles to accompany news articles. Make sure they are to the point and inviting.
Critically reflect on artistic production processes: Critically reflect upon processes and outcomes of the artisitc production process in order to ensure quality of experience and/or product.
Select photographic equipment: Select appropriate photographic equipment and background properties, and adapt it according to subjects, materials, and conditions.
Address problems critically: Identify the strengths and weaknesses of various abstract, rational concepts, such as issues, opinions, and approaches related to a specific problematic situation in order to formulate solutions and alternative methods of tackling the situation.
Read books: Read the latest book releases and give your opinion on them.
Maintain photographic equipment: Execute maintenance tasks to keep photographic equipment functioning properly.
Provide written content: Communicate information in written form via digital or print media according to the needs of the target group. Structure the content according to specifications and standards. Apply grammar and spelling rules.
Edit recorded sound: Edit audio footage using a variety of sofware, tools, and techniques such as crossfading, speed effects, and removing unwanted noises.
Use photographic equipment: Use analogue or digital camera equipment, along with a variety of accessories such as tripods, filters and lenses.
Rewrite articles: Rewrite articles to correct errors, make them more appealing to the audience, and to ensure that they fit within time and space allotments.
Communicate by telephone: Liaise via telephone by making and answering calls in a timely, professional and polite manner.
Edit photographs: Resize, enhance and retouche photographs, using airbrushing, editing software and other techniques.
Test photographic equipment: Test photographic equipment, tools and accessories.
Document interviews: Record, write, and capture answers and information collected during interviews for processing and analysis using shorthand or technical equipment.
Show diplomacy: Deal with people in a sensitive and tactful way.
Follow directions of on-site director: Follow the instructions of the director when covering events on location.
Present during live broadcasts: Present live on political, economic, cultural, social, international or sport events, or host a live broadcast program.
Develop film: Prepare tools and developing and printing equipment. Develop and print exposed film using chemicals.
Write captions: Write captions to accompany cartoons, drawings, and photographs. These captions can be humorous or explanatory.

ISCO group and title

2642 – Journalists





  1. Journalist – ESCO
Last updated on August 8, 2022

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