If you’ve ever dreamed of having a front page byline, breaking a hard-hitting story, or thought Lois Lane had the coolest job ever, you might be considering a career in journalism.
Journalists seek for and tell the truth. And if you’re a writer with a passion for showcasing the the truth to the general public, this might be the right path for you. But first, make sure you’re clear on your available options.
This article explores four of the different types of journalism (not all!) available and what you can potentially earn in this line of work.
An investigative journalist thoroughly researches a topic to expose evidence and deliver information on that topic to a wider audience than would normally have access to it. Investigative journalists conduct in-depth searches using multiple resources and various tactics, and work to uncover (sometimes hidden) truths that support their story or claim.
After collecting, reading, and evaluating evidence with a critical eye and analytical thinking, they write comprehensive stories that expose a subject, and cite sources to back up their claims.
Investigative journalists play an important role in society because they often, as the name suggests, investigate the issues others are afraid to dig into and some don’t want exposed.
Examples of investigative journalists you might be familiar with are Woodward and Bernstein who uncovered and reported on the Watergate scandal.
Investigative journalists are some of the highest-paid journalists but also take on the greatest risk. The average salary ranges between $40,000 and $104,000 USD depending on the region. They get paid either by the organization they work for, or they work independently and earn their income from selling stories to publications.
Broadcast journalism shares many of the same traits as investigative journalism but the stories are delivered through broadcasts either on television, radio, podcasts, or online streaming. Broadcast journalists both write news stories that are often accompanied by visual or audio elements.
This is not to be confused with an anchor who is the person who reads the story written by a journalist. Depending on the position, this could be the same person but there are often separate people in charge of writing, producing, editing, and compiling these stories.
Like an investigative journalist, a broadcast journalist will research, verify sources, and compile evidence that will backup the story they are writing using resources like the internet, databases, archives, and interviews. This type of journalist might also be in charge of writing catchy headlines or snippets that promote the story before it airs.
Rather than just writing the story and handing it off, this position might require you to select locations to film the story, identify interviews and prepare the interview subjects.
Broadcast journalists make an average of $48,818 a year, with salaries ranging from $24,000 to 101,000 USD.
An entertainment journalist focuses on popular culture, the entertainment business and its entertainers. Entertainment journalists shine even more of a spotlight on industry-specific news and can cover anything from lifestyle and theater, to film, TV, music, and celebrities.
While entertainment journalists should be truthful and maintain their journalistic integrity, this type of journalism is meant to entertain and those in this industry may play a little more freely with the “facts.”
While we might picture red carpet coverage or reports on who Taylor Swift is dating now when we think of this type of journalism, it’s not all fluff. The #MeToo movement is said to have started in entertainment journalism as it centers on Harvey Weinstein, once a mogul in the entertainment industry.
The rise of YouTube, TikTok, and other sites have allowed amateurs and “the average Joe“ to start their own blogs or channels relating to topics centered in entertainment journalism (and many make a great career out of it!). But, depending on where you work or who your employer is, the glitz and glamor of the industry may not extend to those reporting on it.
The average entertainment reporter’s salary is about $43,590 a year. Now this can vary wildly depending on the type of entertainment journalism you’re in. If you’re the host of a show like Entertainment Tonight, you might end up making $500,000 a year. But if you’re pounding the pavement as a reporter, you have to work your way to that kind of salary.
Sports journalists report on America’s favorite pastime…and more. Sports journalists report on sports and their responsibilities include pitching ideas (no pun intended), researching, writing, interviewing, and editing. A journalist might cover games, matches, and events, or news from the industry like trades, management changes, and more.
Their interviews might include the players but also managers, referees and other professionals in the industry. Their goal is to keep fans informed.
While this all might sound cool, especially to sports fans, the average salary of a sports journalist is anywhere from $30,000 to $53,000 a year. These numbers will obviously start to vary as you combine broadcast sports journalism and look at jobs at places like ESPN, although the average anchor at ESPN makes about $59,333.
Sports journalism has been one of the heavier hit markets when it comes to shifts in news delivery methods and is struggling along with the broader market of journalism. Sports publications and sections are having a hard time covering costs due to cuts made because of falling subscriptions.
With All of These Different Types of Journalism Available, Are Newspapers or Magazines Still a Good Career Path?
So if you’re looking at these jobs and salaries and thinking, “Oof—it would be hard to make a living as a journalist….” You might not be wrong.
Since the early 2000s, circulation, subscriptions, and advertising in print have been falling at a pretty rapid rate. This fall has caused cuts and layoffs and today there are 29 percent fewer journalists in the workforce when compared to the number of journalists in 1980.
As online content continues to rise and print publications continue to fall, even print publications are joining the digital world by creating podcasts or documentaries on streaming services. So, the better question might be, “Is journalism a good career path?” To that, depending on the work you’re looking to do, you could probably answer, yes.
People are always going to need the truth. We are always going to need people willing to investigate, ask hard questions, and report the truth without bias or prejudice. We will always need good journalists, the only difference between decades ago, today, and the future, is how those journalists report the news.
If you’re looking at a career in journalism, be sure to research all your options as there are many different types of journalism. Explore freelancing or streaming services. Learn more about the different forms of media technology and become an expert in utilizing them to report on what you discover. If you’re a good writer and passionate about the truth, you’ll find a career in journalism that suits you!