Journalism is the key cornerstone of our democracy.
Without local journalism, in depth stories, and investigative journalism, no one would be there to ask the hard questions and hold the government and other elected officials accountable. So you may ask yourself, what are the qualities of a good journalist? Well, there are many, of course, but here are the main ones:
Honesty, Objectivity, Critical Thinking Skills
How to be a reporter journalist…
Even a talented reporter is likely to make mistakes, to miss stories and vital facts at some point in their journalism career, but as long as they are honest about their work, their biases, and limitations they can go far in the industry.
Honesty is the keystone that lies at the foundation of the journalism field, and any successful journalist must remain steadfastly truthful in their writing and keep personal feelings out of their reporting.
A journalist’s search for transparent coverage begins with their approach to researching topics for articles. Good reporters don’t settle for the first source they come across, but instead strive to locate several sources of information related to the story.
Poor research can lead to poorly informed articles and accusations of fake news, and the best way for journalists to ensure accuracy is to thoroughly evaluate the facts from different perspectives, to ask directors and editors for advice, accept criticism and to do extensive research. This kind of research also demonstrates to readers that the journalist is diligent and trustworthy.
Above all else, journalists must practice honesty in their writing. It’s important to ensure that an article has not been swayed by any personal opinion or bias.
A good journalist will be aware of their own perspective and keep it out of the article, otherwise their credibility could be impacted.
In addition, good journalists must have an analytical mind. Journalists must be able to question facts, analyze data and make thoughtful decisions. To be effective reporters, they have to be able to assess a story objectively and base stories on facts.
In this day and age, it’s essential for journalists to have strong critical thinking skills in order to be successful. Without those skills, stories can easily become shallow and lack the accuracy that’s most important to ensuring the trust of their viewers, readers, or listeners.
Building and honing these skills is key to being a good journalist.
Mastering the industry basics:
Getting the facts for a news story
In order to be a good journalist, you must learn how to get factual information. One way to do that is through public records requests, known as FOIAs. Journalists request information from public agencies and interview sources, these help journalism professionals produce error free articles and reports.
Additionally, in order to get the whole story, journalists must ask tough questions of politicians, vetted sourced or vetted experts.
Finally doing research on background information will be key to really understanding the facts in order to write in-depth stories. They must be able to evaluate and analyze each source from multiple angles and determine which information is accurate and trustworthy.
In this previous blog post we looked into the skills needed to be a journalist. We encourage you to check it out.
Vetting subject matter experts
Furthermore, good journalists must know how to vet expert sources of media. As a journalist, we get a lot of press requests and pitches that suggest speaking with certain sources, but it is important to keep in-mind the ulterior motives that people may have if they are pitching themselves through a press release.
Additionally, it is not uncommon for sources to exaggerate, or to miss important details, and a competent journalist will remain vigilant in verifying any claims before publishing the story. Being able to use sound judgment to discern whether a source or quote is reliable or not is key to reporting faithfully.
Nowadays, there are many tools to help journalists find vetted subject matter experts or news sources, among them Rolli (Rolliapp.com). Rolli provides journalists with a database of vetted experts and organizations that journalists can use for their news coverage.
In this previous blog post we looked at how Rolli empowers journalists to do their jobs quickly and more efficiently.
Overall, in today’s age, truth and honesty are essential to effective journalism. Successful journalists must be able to investigate various sources and verify facts, while also having a firm stance on their ethics.
As long as professional journalists are honest, objective and master the industry basics, the trust of their readers and editors can be maintained.
About the Author
Nick Toso is a former CNN television producer and journalist. He worked in the Washington DC Bureau for nearly a decade, during his time, he helped produce interviews with dozens of presidents and world leaders, including President Obama, Clinton, and more. Nick is also the founder of Rolliapp.com.