Are you thinking of a career in journalism but wonder whether the job is the right fit for you? Here’s a list of attributes that make a good journalist and some of them may surprise you!

Curiosity – Are you interested in the world around you and holding people account? Does investigating stories and getting answers about the unknown pique your interest? If you don’t understand something, do you ask questions until you do?

Every day, journalists who are driven by simple curiosity bring to the table stories that are interesting, informative and entertaining. With the increase in fake news, it’s crucial to be curious and question the facts, too.

Being a people person – Would you like to spend your day talking to people and learning their stories? Do you enjoy getting to know new people? Are you good at keeping people at ease? Then journalism could be the career for you.

Being a chatty and natural conversationalist is not something that you can learn in a classroom but is a crucial skill as a reporter.

Interests graphicPassion – Do you have a passion for a particular subject? Maybe you’re into a specific sport, or perhaps you care strongly about the environment? Having that passion for your chosen subject gives you a niche, and means that you might have contacts in that field.

Editors love it when you bring stories to the table. Your news outlet will be that much richer with stories you have sourced and have an interest in.

A hunger for news – As a journalist, you will be expected to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on nationally and locally.

An interest in the world around you and the latest events stands you in good stead as a journalist, helping you to come up with timely ideas for stories.

A desire to learn – A flair for writing or technical prowess doesn’t come naturally to everybody. But that’s where the NCTJ comes in.

Studying on an NCTJ-accredited course helps you hone those skills and learn new techniques to become a journalist performing at the industry standard.

Skills and techniques

Studying on an NCTJ-accredited course helps you hone those attributes and learn new techniques to become a journalist performing at industry standard. The syllabus of the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism ensures you develop a wide range of multimedia skills to ensure you can operate effectively and move seamlessly between platforms.

You will learn:

  • Newsgathering and storytelling skills: These are the fundamental tools to being a good journalist, and good journalists know where to look for stories, which questions to ask and how to portray the story in an effective, accurate and balanced way. These skills may not come naturally and are skills you can develop on course
  • Digital journalism developments: As the pace of journalism changes, so too does the Diploma in Journalism qualification. On NCTJ-accredited courses, students are taught how to operate across different digital platforms, how to use social media, mobile journalism and website analytics.
  • Interviewing skills: The ability to persuade people to give you information is an important skillset of any journalist. You will be taught who to approach for stories, how to communicate effectively and how to obtain and spot the best quotes for a story
  • How to operate in a legal and ethical framework: Being morally, legally and ethically sound as a journalist is vital. All NCTJ courses teach you how to operate in the boundaries of media law, particularly when reporting from court, how to recognise when ethical issues may arise and work within ethical codes of conduct
  • Technical specialist skills: Many NCTJ-accredited courses also offer elective modules designed to give you more specialist skills in areas that may interest you, such as sports journalism, data journalism, TV journalism, radio journalism and more. However, once you are trained in the core skills and master media law and shorthand, you can turn your skills to any avenue that interests you.

Take the next steps

If you're interested in learning more about journalism and furthering your journalistic skills, there are plenty of resources available for you.

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Journalism Skills Academy

The NCTJ’s Journalism Skills Academy supports journalists throughout their careers - offering professional and expert training and development in a range of subjects which reflect the needs of the industry.

Journalism careers guide

Do you want to be a journalist? Our journalism careers guide is packed full of information, tips and advice on how to get into one of the most exciting careers around.

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