The journalistic work process

The articles we read, listen or see in the media don´t just appear out of thin air: someone always chooses the topic, gathers the information and edits it to the public.

The work of a journalist begins with an idea, which has to be developed and formulated into a tight article plan – a work plan that defines the article’s perspective or angle and has been clearly framed.

Effective information gathering is a part of a journalist’s professional skills. Possible sources of information include perceptions and experiences of the journalists themselves and their acquaintances, officials, bulletins, news agencies, event notices, websites, forums, other media and rumours. The use of social media as a source of information has also increased during the 2010s. A journalist must take a critical stance on all information they receive, including that provided by officials. It is worth cross-checking any information from multiple sources, even if it has already been published. Additionally, it is necessary to consider whether, for example, an interviewee might have their own agenda in providing material for the article.

A journalist must take a critical stance on all information they receive, including that provided by officials.

After the information has been gathered, it must be formulated into an article. Whether the medium is on paper, a website or, for example, the radio, journalists should strive for expression that is as clear and accessible as possible. It is good to avoid complicated concepts, lengthy sentences and foreign words. If, for example, an interviewee uses jargon related to their field, it is the journalist’s task to either explain these terms in the text, or to ask the interviewee to translate their terminology into standard language. The journalist always has the right or even the obligation to ask “stupid questions”.

After publication editorial offices should keep an eye on feedback, usually gathered straight from the website or social media channels. People click, share and comment in the comments field located beneath the articles. In past times, feedback was primarily mailed to the office’s post box or published as letters to the editor.

The journalist always has the right or even obligation to ask “stupid questions”.

If an article contains errors, the editorial office must correct the error and/or publish a correction. If it can be argued that the article has offended someone, after its publication a right to reply can be granted to the object of the article.

The work process of a journalist: A summary

  • Coming up with idea
  • Making an article plan including the story angle
  • Gathering information and conducting interviews
  • Compilation and modification
  • Publication
  • Gathering and discussing feedback.

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