Education and Training Requirements
If you are considering a career as an online journalist, you should take college preparatory classes while in high school. Concentrate on English classes that allow you to develop your research and writing skills. Take computer classes that teach you to use word processing programs, graphic design software, and the Internet. If your school offers journalism classes, take these to develop another writing style and learn about publications. To prepare for college and have the broad educational background any writer needs, take mathematics, science, history, and social studies classes.
Many online journalists have bachelor's degrees in journalism. You may also be able to enter the field with a degree in English or communications. Many journalism programs offer courses in online journalism, and a few offer degrees in multimedia journalism or new media. Traditional journalism courses usually cover such topics as basic reporting and copy editing, press law and ethics, and history of journalism.
In addition to your journalism studies, continue to take computer classes. Learning HTML, a Web site authoring language, can also be helpful to an online journalist and may qualify you for other writing and editing opportunities. It is also essential that you learn the most popular software programs and office tools that relate to the writing profession.
Finally, one of the most beneficial things you can do during your college years is to gain hands-on experience through a journalism internship or summer job at a publishing company. Working in online journalism, naturally, is best. But even if you have an internship at a traditional print publication, you will gain valuable experience. Some schools' career services offices or journalism departments have information on such internships.
Other Education or Training
A variety of webinars, conference seminars, digital journalism training sessions, and other continuing education opportunities are offered by professional associations such as the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Society of Professional Journalists. Topics include writing, interviewing, social media, and technology. Contact these organizations for more information.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
There are no certification or licensing requirements for online journalists.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Hands-on experience in journalism, gained through an internship or summer job, is extremely valuable, as are classes in computer science and HTML (a computer language used to create Web sites). Knowledge of the most popular software programs used by writers is also necessary.
If you want to be an online journalist, you will need good research skills. You must have a love for learning and enjoy searching for new information. You must have the desire and initiative to keep up on new technology and the changes that are constantly taking place on the Internet. You must also be organized, self-motivated, and able to meet strict deadlines. Because you will deal with many different people in various lines of work, you must have good interpersonal skills.
Online journalists should obviously have writing skills (including the ability to write concisely), and the ability to distinguish fact from opinion. All journalists must have good grammar, spelling, and editing skills. You must also have good communication skills and the ability to listen and interpret what others are saying. You should also be able to develop relationships not only with other journalists but with outside experts and contacts who can provide information and tips for stories. You must be able to analyze and interpret information in a way that makes it comprehensible for readers and viewers. Perhaps the most important personality traits for a good journalist are persistence in pursuing a story and the physical stamina to keep going for long hours in that pursuit.