At its core, journalism is the reporting of current events with supporting evidence. Purely fact-based, journalism gives audiences the opportunity to inform themselves, and to form their own opinions. With an emphasis on supplying the who, what, when, where, and why of any circumstance or happening, good journalism strives to be bias-free. To be a good journalist, a person should have a stable, ethical foundation, and all of the following qualities.
Boldness, Courage, and a Willingness to Explore
The best journalists are bold, courageous, and willing to explore. To reveal the whole truth of any matter, it’s often necessary to ask tough questions, even when those being interviewed are unwilling to offer the answers. These qualities don’t always make journalists likable, especially among those being grilled. It does, however; enable them to accurately detail what has happened for those needing to know.
A Tough, Analytical Mind
Strong critical thinking skills and a tough, analytical mind are also important to this profession. Journalists must constantly ask themselves whether they’re crafting their reports on opinion and whether their own inherent biases are coloring their reporting. These are skills that must be leveraged even when reporting on deadlines and in other high-stress, high-stakes situations.
A Commitment to Telling the Truth
Reporting the truth and revealing facts and events exactly as they are, and exactly as they’ve happened is rarely easy. Journalists must prioritize their professional objectives above friend-making, ally-keeping, sponsorship and other monetary opportunities, and more. The first obligation of the journalist is to always tell the truth, no matter what the professional cost.
Not all stories entail interviewing people on open fields, in comfortable office spaces, or in television studios. Journalism often takes interviewers into dangerous, crime-ridden, or warring regions, while still requiring them to uphold honesty and courage as their key virtues. Just as journalists are committed to telling the truth, they must also be fearless in pursuing the facts that support their stories in all settings and environments.
While being tech-savvy and good at communicating can certainly be beneficial in this field, skills like these are always secondary to accurate reporting. Good journalism fosters and preserves trust. When journalists are committed to doing their job right, they can build and maintain large and loyal audiences.