5 Qualities Needed to be a Good Journalist

NEWS by Matthew Lew licensed by CC 2.0

So you want to be a journalist? But do you have what it takes? On top of having good writing skills, several other qualities are needed to excel as a journalist. Editors look for individuals with, “”Curiosity, critical thinking, a hunger for news, a burning desire to tell a good story, regardless of the medium or platform, and a dedication to accuracy, fairness, balance and media ethics...” (Brewer).

To give you a better idea of if you have what it takes to be a good journalist, check out the five essential qualities listed below.

To be a good journalist, you must possess a “solid ethical core” and integrity. Journalist’s must have their audience’s trust in order to succeed. Fairness, objectivity and honesty are three factors that need to be built into every story. It is a journalist’s duty to report accurate and reliable information to the public. If a journalist is ever put into a scenario where trust could be compromised, they should step aside. A good way to familiarize one’s self with the ethics of journalism is to read and follow the Society of Professional Journalist’s Code of Ethics.

A good journalist must also be courageous and bold. Part of the job is asking tough questions and digger deeper than comfortable when deemed necessary. Personal feelings must be put aside in order to unleash the truth. In most cases, journalists will need to be out on the scene to get a full, unique story. This includes traveling to drastic and dangerous events to get details.

Strong communication skills are a must for a journalist. These skills are used on a regular basis to interview sources and to write in-depth stories and reports. To be a journalist, a bachelor’s degree in communication or journalism is necessary, along with some form of internship experience. A journalist must also possess skills in technical writing and source attribution, along with a high proficient in English grammar.

Technology and social media have become a huge part of journalism and reporting today; therefore, it is important that a journalist’s possess technology skills. Journalists are expected to use social media as a tool to report in real time and to provide transparent coverage of an ongoing event. Journalists also need to know how to search the internet so that they can properly fact check and access any public records that are necessary for reporting a story. Social media also helps journalist connect with potential sources that could help build a story; therefore, knowing the ins and outs of each social media platform is necessary.

A good journalist should also have an analytical mind that allows them to base stories on fact instead of emotion. Critical thinking skills and sound judgement are crucial when it comes to reporting. Even when there are strict deadlines, a journalist should hone these skills to report stories accurately and to verify that all information they have found is true.

If you believe you possess the above five qualities, then you definitely have what it takes to be a good journalist. What other qualities should a good journalist carry? Comment below to share your thoughts and opinions!


Brewer, D. (2018, March). Five qualities editors seek in journalists. Retrieved from https://ijnet.org/en/story/five-qualities-editors-seek-journalists

Dowd, M. (2018, June 28). The Qualities of a Good Newspaper Journalist. Retrieved from https://work.chron.com/qualities-good-newspaper-journalist-22454.html



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