In today's world, it can be hard to be a journalist. The ground is constantly shifting under our feet as technology evolves, and skills that are useful today might become obsolete tomorrow. Traditional journalism also needs to compete with opinionated voices on social media and elsewhere just to be heard, and with trust in journalists seemingly at a low point, this can be heard.
Bureau Chief for Bloomberg BNA Paul Albergo, also a professor at American University School of Communication (SOC) talked with SOC's Joe Riley about what journalists need in today's market. Here are the six traits that he pinpointed as necessary for journalists today:
"Reporters need to look at the world and see questions. They need to be inquisitive, and not just about whatever story they are working on or topics that relate to their jobs. They need to immerse themselves in the world. Reporters cannot explain impact to an audience if they don't have a sense of the bigger picture, a trends or issues or developments beyond the immediate story or event."
Willingness to Learn
"Continuous learners can evolve as a people and employees. This means they can keep up with new skills. They remain current in the workforce. More importantly, continuous learners often sees the new in the world, which means he or she brings real value to the audience."
"Stories change. Situations evolve. The news is dynamic. Reporters have to be adaptable, willing to try new things or pursue new paths to ensure they are serving their audience. A reporter that cannot adapt often misses important news or fails to capitalize on a new way of telling that news, a way that might be more effective to convey information. Another way of saying this, news is often about change, and reporters who can't adapt to change themselves often miss the news that is unfolding around them."
"Successful reporters don't just chronicle the world around them, they engage with it. They read, they watch films, they enjoy art, sports, and other forms of entertainment. They travel when possible. They live full lives. This kind of engagement allows them to build empathy with sources and those they cover. It becomes a lot easier to engage with individuals if you have a reservoir of experience to tap into when you are trying to understand a person on the other end of a phone call or sitting across for you in a coffee shop. Of course, we have limits to have far we can engage in the world: We can't cross ethical boundaries that would cause a reasonable person to question our objectivity."
Willingness to Step-Up
"This is especially important in the workforce. The best way to get ahead in the workforce is to be raise your hand when an editor or manager is looking for a volunteer or needs help on an immediate problem. Give yourself the opportunity to shine. Become the person your colleagues can depend upon."
"Understand what you don't know and be willing to admit your limits. Reporters who have too much self confidence often miss important elements of a story because they fail to ask questions or seek to really understand what's right before them. The best reporters approach potential stories assuming they have much to learn. They are more then skeptical. They are open to uncovering that's new and different even in situations they believe they've seen a thousand times before. "