As a child, we would dream of doing a job that meant something to the world. The very basic professions would be Doctor, Pilot, Lawyer, Teacher and Engineer etc. There was also another profession that drew us closer to the TV. Watching the news at sharp 7, seeing dressed up men and women on TV discussing about Politics and other raging issues. Yes, it was being a Journalist. Journalism is one of the most interesting jobs to pursue. Especially being a Journalist in Sri Lanka and any part of the world has its own perks.

Nowadays reporting in the homeland might not get the recognition deserved due to the past government’s Media Freedom policies, but Journalists can surely find themselves with many opportunities around the world.

Various professions are designated to different people. Just like everyone cannot simply become a Lawyer, same applies to a Journalist. But one can learn the set of skills and achieve the required qualification of becoming a good reporter. Let’s look at how you could be a good reporter/journalist in the present day.

The types of Journalism

Reporting/Journalism requires a set of skills to be mastered in order to take up the role. Back in the ’70s, of course, it was just a matter of practice. Those who had a solid background in Political Science or Law were able to become Journalists.

However, today the system is quite different, Journalism is not just about Politics, it’s a vastly branched profession. According to American Press Institute, “Journalism is the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information.” These information include various kinds of raging issues, topics of economic, society etc.

The very basic 5 principal types of Journalism are news, investigative, columns, reviews and feature. Every journalist’s pursuit falls into one of the mentioned above categories. Are you dreaming of being a Journalist in Sri Lanka? Then you should know and learn the job roles of the 5 main categories.

Learnings the Skills

Skills are the most important trait in being a Journalist. Like any other profession, skills are learnt through practice and experience. Some of these skills are taught in media school but most of it is learnt while on the job. Any Journalist in Sri Lanka should be aware of these.

  • Courage and boldness – presenting information to the public without shying out requires immense courage and boldness
  • Ethics and integrity – Ethics is the most important in Journalism. Understanding the values of society and individual beings, a journalist should never present false information nor be biased to any cause.
  • Communication and investigation skills – Communication is the second most important factor in Reporting and Journalism. Communication here means not only writing skills but presenting skills and information gathering skills. Additionally all Journalists should learn the skill of investigation. (Not in depth as an Investigative Journalist, but just enough to dig deep in to pretense stories)
  • Technological knowledge – The industry is growing and information is all over the place. Learning the right technological approaches can make your story gain more advanced data and proof.

Many of these mentioned skills come with practice. However, the skills aren’t just enough to promise you an amazing career in the industry. After all – prior to being hired, your skills cannot be measured unless you’re given an internship.

Qualifications Needed

Having a set of qualifications can take any Journalist up the ladder of growth. However, looking for the useful qualifications could be a crucial task. Nowadays education being one of the best ways to earn money, private institutions are flocking in around Sri Lanka claiming to be affiliated with recognized colleges abroad. Many of them unheard.

Currently there are only two recognized institutions in Sri Lanka who provide external courses on Journalism and Mass Communication. The Journalism Faculty of Colombo University offers a one-year Diploma in Journalism which focuses more on the theoretical part of the subject. This cover the ethics and the studies from the very beginning. This course can be very helpful if you’re an intern reporter willing to pursue Journalism as a profession. It teaches you everything you need to know beginning primarily.

The Sri Lankan College of Journalism offers a 6 months Diploma which focuses rather on the practicality of the job role. If you have zero experience in the industry, this would be ideal for you as it takes you step by step in the learning process.

There are other universities that offer degrees in Media and Mass Communication in Sri Lanka, but a little advice from someone who has been in the field, don’t waste 4 years cubed within walls. Journalism is a job which needs hands on experience and field work. Get out of your comfort zone and conquer the industry.

The pay

It all comes to this, doesn’t it? Every person dreams of getting a good pay for working. A basic salary of a Sri Lankan News journalist could range between 20k and 35k. An acclaimed magazine feature writer, probably slightly higher than that. Investigative Journalism in Sri Lanka isn’t very famous as the role is tough. However talented investigative Journalists are quite rare to find and have great demand around the world.

Passion over Talent

Curiosity makes a great journalist. A journalist can be found anywhere and it’s not only associated with writing. Not every talented writer is a good Journalist and not all good journalists are talented writers. It all relies on your will and dream to go forward in the journey.

Especially being a journalist in Sri Lanka would require a lot of courage as the society doesn’t really push one to become a journalist in profession. If you really love the idea of being a journalist, it has to begin with you first. Ignite the passion within you and go chase the dream. You need to step out and work hard if you really want to become a recognized journalist.

So there you go. Thinking of being a Journalist in Sri Lanka? You can simply make your dream come true.