About Political Journalism Jobs
At the foundation of any properly functioning political system should be truth and transparency. In tumultuous times such as these, political structures and government institutions’ strength is crucial to ensure all citizens’ prosperity and safety.
This is what makes political journalism jobs that important. Out of all journalism domains, nothing is more consequential to regular citizens than reporters keeping a check on influential political figures and parties.
Objectivity and integrity are arguably two of the essential components of good journalism. What separates political journalism from other jobs in the media industry is the stakes. Speaking truth to power can be a daunting task, but reporting the good, the bad, and the ugly is the foundation of democracy.
What Do Political Journalists Do?
Whether we are fully aware or not, politics play an essential part in shaping our societies. Every day, the elected officials come together and make decisions that impact people’s lives. They decide on our education, healthcare, safety, opportunities, and travels.
In that sense, it’s the political journalists’ job to serve the public. That service includes reporting and informing the citizens about all the latest political developments, from the White House to the small City Hall council. The most critical duty political journalists have is making sure that the government serves their people, and the moment it’s perceived they are failing, they need to be held accountable.
Journalism jobs, in general, have many aspects. It’s different from the regular news reporter job. Political journalists are expected to be present at briefings and meetings, attend press conferences, witness councils, and similar live events. They need to curate their relationships with assets and sources, always making sure they respect their anonymity’s wishes. The research that goes into writing political pieces is meticulous, as spreading false information can have serious repercussions.
The list of duties the job of political journalism brings is extensive:
- Collecting information on newsworthy local, state, national or international political events and have them ready for radio or television broadcast.
- Assembling and verifying facts through interviews with figures relevant to the story and examining documents and public records.
- Doing a thorough analysis of the background events.
- Top journalism jobs generally demand meticulous note-taking, tape-recording, and even shooting video footage to preserve correct information.
- Completing story assignments appointed to them by the editor or producer.
- Reviewing the gathered material and determine what information is of the utmost urgency, according to space or time slot allowed.
- Reporting live from the event, providing as much relevant data.
Although we could argue that political journalism has many subcategories, the most glaring division is between the political reporter job description and what political columnists and writers do.
The job of a political reporter is to compile newsworthy information from critical political events and briefings. One of the most significant happenings in political journalism is election season. It means long hours and a hectic schedule, as election campaigns mean a seemingly endless stream of rallies, conventions, speeches, and debates, all culminating with election night.
Once outside the election season, the less exciting, but equally important part of the cycle begins. Political news reporters present buzzworthy stories that provide information about local, state, national, or international events. They may also express opposing views on current political issues, challenging the solutions and opinions of governmental authorities to guide their audience through any possible repercussions of legislative changes and lawmaking.
Political Columnists and Writers
Political writer jobs don’t only incorporate objectively reporting the news, but also offer a personal insight into a story. Most of the political columnists are well-versed and experienced with the topics they cover. They generally pick out these topics themselves, unlike the political reporters who mostly take cues from editors.
Depending on the publication’s frequency, writers may have to provide columns daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even yearly.
Political journalism jobs always demand browsing for the right topic and keeping an eye on everything happening in the political world, from radio to television.
Arguably the most critical part of a columnist’s work is the research they put into it. When discussing politics, especially in a more subjective form that columns cultivate, it’s imperative to have all the correct facts. Media bias is one of the most significant threats to a democratic society, as journalists have the platform they can use to mold people’s opinions on political issues.
Broadcasting and news reporting is anything but dull. The importance of political reporting in journalism is undisputed. Every information has to be fact-checked but presented to ooze confidence and tone appropriate to the situation’s severity.
When a significant story is developing, an office full of journalists can look hectic. From typing clatter to phone conversations, it probably isn’t a place for anyone who dreams of peace and quiet.
Working under immense time pressure is also something to be expected and part of any media industry job.
Depending on work engagement, political journalists aren’t strangers to travel. Covering international stories, especially in war zones and politically unstable countries, can be a high-risk task.
Similarly, covering sessions of the state legislature might call for a several-month stay in one place.
Injuries and Illnesses
While physical injuries and illnesses aren’t typically the most frequent part of political correspondents’ jobs, it’s worth pointing out that not all political systems protect the media’s freedom, especially if we’re talking about authoritarian regimes.
Working in a field that is as volatile and challenging as politics does take a significant toll on ones’ mental health.
Reporting on events such as riots, protests, and wars is bound to leave psychological scars on journalists.
Reporting about politics is not your regular nine-to-five office job. While it usually operates in the reign of a 35- to 40-hour week, overtime isn’t uncommon. Although this isn’t a case for all types of jobs in journalism, another difference between news reporting and employment in other industries is the schedule’s irregularity.
Working at a news network that operates 24 hours a day comes with its own specific circumstances. Depending on how busy the news cycle is, reporters might be working throughout the day, very early in the morning, and extremely late at night.
How to Become a Political Journalist?
To provide comprehensive and quality content, writing skills (including setting the right tone, communicating clearly and unambiguously), and following the grammatical rules are the foundation of the political journalist job description.
Other essential qualities that make a great political journalist are:
While communication in a written form is essential for political columnists and writers, political reporters also lean on their verbal skills. Either way, knowing what kind of message you are trying to convey and setting a tone accordingly is crucial in journalism.
The use of broadcasting equipment and devices is highly encouraged, and so is being knowledgeable about editing software and procedures.
Nurturing relationships with as many relevant people in the field can make political reporter jobs a lot easier, which means social skills are a valuable asset in this profession. Collaborating with the story’s direct subjects is of the utmost consequence, but so is being a team player. While political journalists are the face of any story they report, many other people make a part of it behind the scenes, like editors, producers, photographers, videographers, etc.
If we’re talking about a politics reporter job, objectivity is imperative. Reporters need to present facts without any bias. In today’s climate, partisanship makes an overwhelming part of the political scene. Some media networks choose to lean towards some political ideas more than others, but this isn’t something that should be perceived as acceptable, not unless disclosed.
When your work requires getting the truth from some of the most influential people in the country, persistence may be the only way to uncover the facts. As a political journalist, the service is to the public first. While it can make relationships with people subjected to the news stories quite complicated, it’s a part of political journalism jobs.
A highly dynamic, fast-paced profession such as journalism comes with more than an emotional toll. The long, unpredictable hours affect journalists’ physical state, so being prepared for the unforeseeable tasks is pivotal.
It is preferable to obtain a bachelor’s degree in journalism or mass communications to increase your chances of getting a job in political journalism. However, it is not unusual for employers to hire someone with a degree in a relevant field. There is a strong correlation between a political science job and what political journalists do.
Acquiring an education in journalism includes attending various classes, from journalistic ethics to liberal arts like economics and history.
Studying techniques for researching a story and conducting interviews is essential for becoming a journalist.
Furthermore, there is an option to pursue a degree in a specific type of journalism. This degree could be it print, broadcast, or multimedia.
Many different courses also proved to give beneficial skills for a more successful political journalism career. Proficiency in multimedia design and editing is especially advantageous, as more content is being distributed on multiple platforms and channels.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Licensing and registering journalists is a thing of the past in most democratic societies. In some less liberal countries, the licenses and the decision who gets to receive them are issued strictly by the government. This means that political figures get to decide who will inform the public about them, which in itself creates questionable circumstances.
Political journalism careers tend to take a long time to develop. Even though every vocation follows its path and pace, relevant experiences and skill-learning can get you faster to where you want to be. By gaining work experience, political reporters and writers can receive promotions by moving from local networks and publications to more widespread organizations. With a broader market, media communications or writing jobs bring in more money and come with considerably more responsibilities and career challenges.
The dream career achievement is different for each journalist. Still, the goal is most often to become an editor or a news director, which gives the journalist freedom to curate and control the process of broadcasting and publication from start to finish.
If you’re wondering about the political journalist salary, the median wage for broadcast news analysts was $66,880, according to a report in May 2018. The lowest 10% of earners made less than $27,370, while the top 10% brought more than $200,180.
Regarding reporters and correspondents, their median salary was even lower at $41,260, with the top 10% earning over $100,930 and bottom 10% gaining less than $23,490.
When looking at political journalism entry level jobs, their salary sits at $36,986 annually on average.
Jobs in political journalism aren’t the easiest to find. There is a 10% decline in employment projected to transpire in a decade from 2018 to 2028. Reporters and correspondents’ overall employment will crumble 12%, while broadcast news analysts aren’t expected to see any significant change.
A collapse in advertising revenues for radio and television is undoubtedly one of the imposing reasons for the predicted drop in employment numbers.
Newspaper media will continue to face a decline in the next few years, as the readership moves more to digital consumption.
The journalism field is very competitive, and experience plays a significant role for employers, so it might be challenging to find jobs for journalism graduates. Completing an internship is one of the best ways to ensure you have a head start.
Recording and editing video and audio content, and being well-versed with multimedia, in general, are notable bonuses.
As the web is becoming more prominent for sharing stories, being knowledgeable about website design and coding can make a resume look even more remarkable.
How do I become a political reporter?
The first step to getting a career in political journalism is obtaining a relevant college degree. While studying journalism is undoubtedly the most obvious route, employers don’t shy away from hiring experts from related spheres, such as political science.
In addition to corresponding degrees, many additional courses can help polish your resume, most of them being multimedia-oriented.
Having previous experience is undoubtedly the best testament to one’s abilities. While relevant and paying jobs for journalism students aren’t exactly easy to find, completing internships while still studying can be advantageous. Another way to garner practical knowledge in political journalism is working for school newspapers and college radio and TV stations.
How much does a political correspondent make?
The national average for a political correspondent in the US is $46,851 annually. However, only 14% of journalists earn between $43,000 and $51,499 – most earn significantly less.
New York is the best place to pursue jobs in journalism and broadcasting, with an average salary of $51,389. Conversely, North Carolina is at the bottom of the list, averaging $37,689 in annual earnings.
Is journalism a dying field?
While some say that journalism is indeed a dying field, what numbers tell us is a bit more complicated.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 455,000 people were employed in the newspaper industry in 1990, including every position, from reporting to the paper delivery truck drivers.
In 2018, the number declined around 60%, with just 200,000 reportedly working in the field.
While this affects the prospects of pursuing careers in political journalism for many people, the reality isn’t as hopeless as it seems.
With the arrival of the digital age, it was only reasonable to expect significant changes in newspaper journalism, but it also opened doors for other media. If everything that BLS defines as “media” is taken into account (magazines, books, Internet publishing, filmmaking, cable and broadcast TV, radio), the drop is notably less severe, showing a decline of just 4%.
Is it worth getting a journalism degree?
As the modern age is continuously redefining journalism, the reality is that getting a degree won’t prepare you for the changes. Getting a break in the industry is also a steep path, as it’s very competitive. To top that, many employers demand 12 years of experience for entry-level jobs, which indicates just how valuable the internships are.
Conversely, jobs you can get with a journalism degree aren’t necessarily limited to that particular industry, as some of the skills can be easily transferable to fields like marketing and communications. Being taught by the experts in the line of work is a valuable advantage for those studying journalism.
Pursuing a journalism degree also gives you access to more relevant mentorships, workshops, and guest lecturers.
Can I be a journalist with a political science degree?
In short, yes. Suppose a person has a degree in political science but is also interested in media like television and radio. In that case, there is a prospect for a starting one of the many political journalism careers.
As previously discussed, having a journalism degree is by no means the only way to succeed in the field, as more and more editors look for specialists in liberal arts for their contributions.
Having a political science major is particularly advantageous for getting into political journalism, as it implies knowledge of the subject on a more in-depth basis.
How to start a career in political journalism?
Aside from obtaining a political journalism degree, having any relevant experience is imperial. An excellent way to tackle the experience obstacle early on is writing for college newspapers.
Starting a blog can be a fruitful endeavor, especially if it brings a lot of following and attention to your work. Not only can it get you noticed quickly, but you simultaneously have samples of your work displayed.
Whether on the blog or social media, continually building your following can be an enormous boost when looking for political journalism jobs.