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10 Things You May Not Know About Journalists Though You Think You Do

10 Things You May Not Know About Journalists Though You Think You Do

As the recent experience of Angolan journalist Rafael Marques de Morais proves, there is often a high price associated with exposing truths and scandals. Facing libel charges after writing about the horrors of a country’s diamond trade, serious journalists must place themselves at considerable risk if they are to uphold the values of honesty and integrity while delivering newsworthy content to their readers. This harsh reality is often overlooked, thanks to the antics of a select few tabloid journalists and editors who deal in sensational narratives rather than those with genuine value for the reader. The importance of serious journalism should never be underestimated, however, and neither should the sacrifices that journalists make in the quest to report real news in real-time to their audience.

With a small minority of tabloid reporters responsible for an entire series of misconceptions, let’s look at the following facts about serious journalists and how they stack up against popular stereotypes:

1. They are Deadline Driven

The world of news moves quickly and in real-time, meaning that stories have to be written, edited and published to a prohibitive deadline. This poses an issue for journalists, especially those who are forced to deal with regular interruptions with colleagues as they work. This can trigger a less than welcoming response that is perceived as rudeness, when it is in fact little more than a coping mechanism that enables them to maintain focus and deal with significant pressure.

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2. They are Versatile and Adaptable

Depending on their status and background, some journalists are required to cover numerous genres of news and stories over the course of their careers. Rather than highlighting inadequate levels of focus or a lack of clear orientation, this underlines a keen sense of versatility and willingness to accept unfamiliar work with minimal notice. So while established bloggers often receive more credit in the current marketplace, it is important to remember that they are able to create single-minded content that is dictated by their existing knowledge and expertise.

3. They are Calm in the Face of Criticism

While anyone who shares their work and opinions in a public forum are opening themselves up to criticism, people often fail to realize that journalists are human beings with emotive views and feelings of their own. Criticism is particularly hard to take when it is aimed at an honest and unbiased piece of journalism, especially when it is directed by Internet trolls who well-versed in the art of dissecting sound and well-reasoned arguments. When you consider the journalists have to face such criticism on a daily basis, they are constantly required to remain calm and professional in response.

4. They are Often Their Own Harshest Critics

The nature of journalism is interesting, as each author is given individual accreditation for their work and must take ownership of the content. This breeds both pride and a yearning for self-improvement, especially when they reread a published article and uncover sentences or paragraph that they would like to restructure. In this respect, journalists are often their own harshest critics, as they learn over time to remain strong when they doubt their ability and use mistakes as motivation to further hone their craft.

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5. They Work in an Incredibly Competitive Industry

The issue of self-improvement is an interesting one, as the journalism industry is as competitive as it is fast-paced. This means that a strong work ethic and a relentless quest for self-improvement are crucial to your chances of longevity in the sector, regardless of whether you work for a traditional media firm or an online brand. Many outsiders categorize those who work within the industry as being cut-throat and ruthless, when in fact they are simply committed to succeeding and carving out a long and rewarding career.

6. They are Deceptively Humble

Although some have described journalism as “an inherently arrogant profession,” this is at odds with some of the core elements of the sector. Not only is there a strong hierarchy within any typical media or news agency that commands a degree of servitude, but the majority of writers have their work shaped, changed and embellished by meticulous editors. So without a sense of humility and respect for the chain of command, journalists would not be able to survive in the industry.

7. They Risk their Careers Everyday

While many serious journalists may be deceptively humble, they are also courageous despite carrying a burden of great responsibility. Those in the front line of their field (such as investigative journalists) are forced to place their careers at risk every single day, as they strive to deliver insightful and often difficult news to the public regardless of any influential figures who may be involved. This can cause tremendous unrest and may even trigger lawsuits, meaning that journalists must have the courage of their convictions and remain true to their values at all times.

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8. They are Part of a Thriving Industry

The traditional news industry is undoubtedly moribund, but this is often misconstrued as the death of journalism. This is far from the truth, as the number of media outlets, online news carriers and reputable blog sites has risen at a considerable rate and created even more opportunities for skilled and experienced journalists. Many of the most established writers also have the opportunity to freelance in the modern age, as they look to maximize their earnings and report news across a rich diversity of media.

9. They are Highly Skilled and Qualified Writers

Conversely, the rising number of online media outlets has also created opportunities for those without a journalism degree or any associated experience. Alongside the emergence of independent blogging as a potentially lucrative career option, this has diluted the marketplace and created a perception that many writers are able to operate without a defined skill or academic qualifications. Journalists remain set apart from other writers, however, as they are all college educated, highly talented and exceptionally knowledgeable within their fields of expertise.

10. They Live in a Male Dominated World

From a female a perspective, the drive for equality and equal opportunities in the workplace has never been more strongly backed. These efforts have not yet been fully reflected in the world of journalism, with an estimated 79% of all newspaper articles penned by a male author. This means that female journalists face an even harder challenge to sustain their careers within the sector, despite the perception that they are able to operate from a fair and even playing field.

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Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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