Since the average person will spend 90,000 hours over his lifetime at work, it is important to choose a career that suits both the individual’s interests and personality. For people who enjoy research, writing, and being “in-the-know,” journalism may fit the bill. Fortunately, journalism students and professionals have access to a wealth of online information, professional organizations, open courseware, and other available resources.
Student and Professional Organizations
An invaluable resource for students and practitioners alike, professional and student associations offer job banks, networking and educational opportunities, mentorships and online resources to help improve skills and develop expertise.
- American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) – Since 1948, the ASJA has promoted professional, non-fiction writing and journalism. Members enjoy access to the ASJA’s Freelance Writer Search, a subscription to The ASJA Monthly, and special discounts. However, membership is restricted to writers who have been published by a recognized media outlet.
- Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (AEJMC) – AEJMC’s mission to “promote the highest possible standards for journalism and mass communication education” makes the association a good fit for graduate students, as well as young professionals seeking to get a jumpstart on their career. Membership includes subscriptions to Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, Journalism & Mass communication Monographs, Journalism & Mass Communication Directory, and AEJMC News. Members also enjoy access to teaching and other resources; networking opportunities are available at regional events and through the association’s annual conference.
- Association of Food Journalists (AFJ) – Students and professionals in food journalism benefit from membership to the AFJ. Since 1974, the organization has helped its members express their passion for food reporting. Members enjoy access to educational webinars, as well as mentorship opportunities and scholarship programs. Networking at the annual AFJ conference offers aspiring food journalists the opportunity to build personal relationships with experts in the field. A job board is also provided.
- National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) – Founded in 1975, the NABJ has been committed to providing “quality programs and services to and advocacy on behalf of black journalists worldwide.” NABJ members enjoy networking opportunities at the organization’s annual convention, as well as through its NABJ Media Institute. Regional programs, events, workshops, fellowships, and online discussion groups are also available. Email updates and a subscription to the group’s quarterly NABJ Journal are provided to all members. NABJobs Online allows job seekers and employers to connect.
- National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) – As the “leading voice advocating for the work of visual journalists,” the NPPA offers advocacy, networking, and educational opportunities to its members. Student members find scholarship advice, seminars, and career tips, and young professionals enjoy online resources, workshops, and a mentorship program. Many continue as professional members and take advantage of the group’s workshops, conferences, online education, and advocacy. Membership also includes a subscription to News Photographer magazine.
- Radio and Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) – As the “world’s largest professional organization exclusively serving the electronic news profession” since 1946, the RTDNA has provided advocacy, training, and insight to journalists and broadcasters. Well-known for its sponsorship of the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Awards, RTDNA provides its members with online resources, including industry news, a blog, and videos. Networking opportunities are provided at workshops, as well as the association’s joint conference with SPJ, Excellence in Journalism.
- Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) – With a mission to ensure “the perpetuation of a free press as the cornerstone of our nation and our liberty,” the SPJ helps its members develop and maintain the skills and abilities necessary to keep the nation informed. Members enjoy numerous networking opportunities at national and regional conferences, as well as through one of SPJ’s 250 local chapters. Subscriptions to Quill, the SPJ’s bi-monthly magazine, as well as its weekly e-news SPJ Leads, are included with membership.
Open Journalism Courseware
Many of the top colleges and universities in the world are making their syllabi, lecture notes, bibliographies, videos, and other resources freely available on the Internet. Aspiring journalists on a budget can take advantage of open courseware to develop skills and expertise for free.
- Applied Multimedia Technology – Notre Dame – To succeed in journalism in the 21st century, reporters must be skilled in more than research and writing, they need to be able to manipulate media tools to reach a wider audience. In this course taught by G. Christopher Clark, students at all levels explore the aesthetics, usability, content, and functionality of a wide array of media, and how to critically evaluate it. Project work includes sound and image editing and blog writing.
- Critical Reading and Writing – UMass Boston – Taught by Professor Erin M. O’Brien, this course helps students better develop their reading skills for gleaning pertinent information. Topics covered include relating general ideas to supporting facts and arguments, pattern recognition, and ways of structuring writing. Assignments range from searching techniques to essay writing.
- Classical Rhetoric and Modern Political Discourse – MIT – Sifting through persuasive texts to find the kernel of truth is a skill all successful journalists possess. In this course taught by Prof. Leslie Perelman of MIT’s Writing and Humanistic Studies department, undergraduate level students learn to analyze and think critically about persuasive texts.
- Documentary Photography and Photo Journalism: Still Images of a World in Motion – MIT – Prof. B.D. Colen teaches this cross-listed course, appropriate for graduate and undergraduate students alike. Students explore the work of well-known photojournalists and documentary photographers, as well as papers critiquing them. Image galleries, projects, and examples are provided. A helpful list of links to related photographic resources will help guide students’ self-study.
- Ethics and the Law on the Electronic Frontier – MIT – Co-taught by Profs. Daniel Weitzner, Harold Abelson, and Michael M.J. Fischer, this undergraduate level class delves into the “interaction between law, policy, and technology.” Privacy and transparency, electronic surveillance, the Fourth Amendment, data mining, profiling, and the Patriot Act are all explored. Selected lecture notes and a guide for writing news articles are provided.
- Expository Writing: Social and Ethical Issues in Print, Photography and Film – MIT – In this undergraduate level course, taught by Dr. Andrea Walsh of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, students explore a range of social and ethical issues through the expository writing of famous authors; Charles Dickens, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are among the writers covered. Recommended readings, online resources, and a guide to critiquing film are provided as well.
- Finding Information in Technology – OpenLearn – This introductory level course from The Open University helps aspiring journalists learn to find reliable information on the Internet effectively and efficiently. Using bibliographic databases, electronic journals, and search engines are all covered. Students who complete this nine-hour course should develop skills in evaluating the quality of a source or site, properly attributing references, and organizing facts for readability.
- Understanding Media: The celebrity in the text – OpenLearn – From the Open University comes this intermediate level, 12-hour course that explores how media influences public opinion. Using the vehicle of celebrity, students learn basic media terms and techniques to analyze media and consider the newsworthiness and coverage of celebrity reporting.
Open Access Journals
Scholarly publications help journalism professionals keep abreast of the latest theories and research in the field. The articles, book reviews, analyses, and commentary found in the journals on this list cover the most current views on journalism and the media.
- Critical Studies in Media Communication – Providing a “home for scholarship in media and mass communication from a cultural studies and critical perspective,” this journal publishes scholarship on a wide range of media and journalism topics, including radio, television, print outlets, and new media. Rigorously peer-reviewed access to some content in this hybrid journal requires a subscription, while other articles are available via open access. Two of its most popular articles include “Pranking rhetoric: ‘Culture Jamming’ as Media Activism,” and “The Crisis of Public Values in the Age of the New Media.”
- Digital Journalism – Founded in 2013, this peer-reviewed journal publishes scholarship that analyzes the relationship between digital technologies; their impact on political, cultural, and economic changes, and journalism. Topics of particular interest include social media’s effect on news, mobile news, and participatory journalism. Although some content requires a subscription in this hybrid journal, other articles are freely available, such as a recent piece on “Mobile News: A Review and Model of Journalism in an Age of Mobile Media.”
- Global Media Journal (Africa) – Maintained by the Journalism Department of Stellenbosch University, this open access journal publishes articles, research papers, and book reviews. Broad in scope, its mission is to “address diverse interests of media and journalism scholars, researchers, teachers, students, and institutions.” Representative articles include “The Recent Decline in Press Freedom in South Africa” and “Deconstructing the Reporting of Hostage Taking in the Niger Delta.”
- Global Media Journal (Canada) – Bilingual and refereed, this journal hosted by the University of Ottawa provides open-access to research in the fields of journalism, communication, and media studies. Published twice a year, both academic papers and book reviews are included. Original empirical and analytical research, critical pieces, case studies, and works that develop theories about media are preferred. Recent papers include “Framing News in 140 Characters: How Social Media Editors Frame the News and Interact with Audiences via Twitter” and “Making Journalism Better by Understanding Data.”
- Journalism Practice – This multidisciplinary journal publishes rigorous, anonymously reviewed articles that focus on critical and research-based studies. Topics found in the journal include developments in education and training, journalism practice, cross-platform journalism, and journalism history. In this hybrid publication, some content requires a subscription while other papers are available for free. Some of the most read, open-access articles from the journal include “Twittering the News: The Emergence of Ambient Journalism” and “Participatory Journalism Practices in the Media and Beyond.”
- Journalism Studies – This international publication attempts to reflect “the intellectual interests of a global community.” Peer-reviewed, it covers a broad range of journalism topics, including specializations such as sports coverage and current affairs. While some of this journal’s scholarship requires a subscription to access, other content is freely available via open access. Recent popular (and free) articles include “What is News? Galtung and Ruge Revisited,” and “A Compromised Fourth Estate? UK News Journalism, Public Relations and News Sources.”
- Media History Monographs – Freely available online, this open source journal is “devoted to publishing scholarly journalism and mass communication history works.” Sponsored by the School of Communications at Elon University, articles undergo blind-review and include titles like “When Objectivity Works: David Halberstam’s Vietnam Reporting” and “Naming the Forest Fire: Journalists Define the ‘Red Demon,’ 1871-1933.”
- MedieKultur. Journal of media and communication research – This journal is multilingual; articles are available in Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and English. This double-blind, peer-reviewed journal takes an international perspective on journalism and media scholarship. Published by the Society of Media Researchers in Denmark, its mission is to “contribute to critical reflection and development of theories and methods within media and communication research.”
Over 100 years ago, Oscar Wilde said, “the difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read.” Luckily, both have changed for the better; the works in this list demonstrate that good journalism can create highly readable literature.
- All the President’s Men – This chronicle of the reporting behind the Watergate scandal, written by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, is as current today as when it was published in 1974. With the story of the Washington Post‘s quest for the truth of President Richard Nixon’s involvement in dirty politics, and its culmination in his resignation, this book is a must read for anyone interested in investigative reporting.
- Boomerang – From Iceland to Greece, Germany to Ireland, and then back in the states, Michael Lewis’ romp across the globe investigates the causes and effects of the latest financial crisis as it played out with unique consequences in several nations. Funny, brilliant, and as much a cultural study as a financial one, this book will entertain journalists of all stripes.
- Dirty Wars – Written by The New York Times bestselling author, Jeremy Scahill, this book takes readers behind the scenes of America’s covert wars. Examining the activities of military special forces, CIA operatives, and private security contractors, this 2013 work reveals the scope of America’s secret wars across the globe.
- Double DownDouble Down
– Part two of President Barack Obama’s improbable hold on the Oval Office, this work by Mark Halperin of Time and John Heilemann of New York Magazine, goes behind the scenes of a campaign’s ability to overcome crises, an unhappy electorate, and lots of soft money to keep the White House. Following both campaigns, this book “exposes blunders, scuffles, and machinations far beyond the klieg lights of the campaign trail.”
- Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 – The work of Hunter S. Thompson is largely considered essential reading for aspiring journalists, but this book stands out. A collection of his articles for Rolling Stone on the national campaigns of 1972, presidential politics, and the wild life of a gonzo journalist on the campaign trail are profiled with wit and insight.
- Game Change – Covering Barack Obama’s first presidential election campaign, Halerin and Heilmann show how a relatively inexperienced senator from the Midwest overcame the Clinton Machine, a war hero senator, and the most likable hockey mom ever to hit the national stage. Called a “reportorial tour de force” readers catch up on the behind the scenes tales of high-level machinations, campaign staff failures, and candidate downfalls. This book is a must-read for any journalist considering a career in political reporting.
- The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession – As Susan Orlean follows orchid enthusiast John Laroche through the swamps of Florida and into courtrooms to defend his craft, she colorfully reveals the obsession and art of orchid hunting. From historical naturalists, smugglers, and peers of the realm and Native Americans to Palm Beach’s elite, The New Yorker writer Orlean gives a captivating account of orchid fever.
- Three Nights in August – Pulitzer prize winning author Buzz Bissinger takes a unique swing at baseball reporting in this profile of a single three-game series in August 2003 between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. Following one of the winning-est managers in the game, Tony La Russa, Bissinger’s recount takes readers inside the mind of one of baseball’s most respected thinkers.
Online Magazines and Newspapers
Aspiring journalists can enjoy the nation’s top online magazines as well as industry insider publications to learn the latest news, discover emerging trends, and gain insights into new methods of reporting. Consider adding some of these popular news outlets and journalism reviews to your daily reading queue.
- American Journalism Review(AJR) – Published by the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, AJR’s mission is to “promote excellence and inspire innovation in journalism.” With commentary, news aggregation, and original reporting on the media industry, this online magazine is a must-read for journalists across the profession.
- BuzzFeed – With its unique mix of original reporting, entertainment content, and breaking news, “in today’s media age, Buzzfeed is just as important as the New York Times.” Most-popular-lists, which include cats, fun quizzes, wildly inappropriate content, and hard news features spar for space in this socially driven news outlet. Representative articles include “Exclusive: Egypt Observers Report Ballot Stuffing, Bribes in Constitution Vote” and “Welcome to the Net Neutrality Nightmare Scenario.”
- Columbia Journalism Review(CJR) – With a mission to “encourage excellence in journalism in the service of a free society,” the CJR monitors what’s going on in the press, online, in print, and over the air. Daily updates of news, commentary, and analysis across the industry will be found in the online version of this insider magazine.
- The Guardian – Around in one version or another since 1821, in recent years, The Guardian has re-asserted itself as a leading voice of the left. Beginning with its collaboration with WikiLeaks in 2011, and continuing with its revelations of the NSA secret surveillance program, this online news outlet has been at the forefront of whistleblowing over the past few years. Journalists of all stripes keep tabs on the latest developments from around the world, particularly with its UK version.
- The New York Times – The print version of this online newspaper enjoys one of the highest circulations in the country. In the 150 plus years of its operation, the Gray Lady has won over 100 Pulitzer Prizes, with reporters and columnists like John Burns, Maureen Dowd, Thomas Friedman, Nicholas Kristof, and Anna Quindlen, many of whom still write for the paper today.
- Quill – This magazine of the Society of Professional Journalists(SPJ) has an online version that is freely available for download or to read directly from SPJ’s website. Published six times a year, articles provide in-depth analysis, coverage of emerging trends, and member profiles. Recent articles include “Generation J Toolbox,” and “How to Interview a Zombie.”
Topical, current, and pithy blogs are a great way to learn writing tips, keep current on the latest news, and discover new trends, particularly in social media and emerging technologies.
- Journalism.org – Sponsored by the Pew Research Journalism Project, this blog disseminates research on who is reporting what, what isn’t being covered, and how readers are consuming news. Emerging trends in reporting and the news industry can be found here as well.
- Mashable – Styling itself a the “leading source for news, information & resources for the Connected Generation,” Mashable readers keep current on the latest innovations in our increasingly social and networked world.
- Media Bistro – With it mission to “help media professionals succeed and grow in their careers,” this blog is a great place for job seekers to develop skills, make connections, and find new positions.
- Poynter – A non-profit journalism school that teaches in newsrooms and elsewhere around the world, Poynter also produces a blog with the latest news and “how to’s” that help journalists with newsgathering, storytelling, and digital strategies.
Who to Follow on Twitter
Keeping current 140 characters at a time, Twitter is the place to learn what is going on in journalism today, and what will be happening tomorrow.
- @10000words – From the intersection of technology and journalism, the staff of 10,000 Words tweet at the cutting edge of multi-media journalism.
- @CICM – Bryan Murley sends out tweets from the digital think tank Center for Innovation in College Media.
- @CNNReliable – CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter examines “how journalists do their jobs and how the media affect the stories they cover.”
- @comminternships – Steven Chappell maintains and tweets a frequently updated list of journalism and communications internships and paid positions.
- @cschweitz – Director of Digital Innovation at Time, Callie Schweitzer tweets on a variety of subjects including the latest in tech news.
- @JournalistsLike – Tweets from the satirical media and journalism blog Stuff Journalists Like encourage others to #PartyLikeAJournalist.
- @mediagazer – “Must-read media news” in tweet form from the staff of the website of the same name.
- @PBSMediaShift – Tweets that track “how mobile devices, social media, citizen journalism and new technology are changing the media landscape.”