Recommended if… you want to be out in public, telling stories, conveying events, and conducting analysis of what is happening in the present (often in relation to past events). You enjoy intense schedules with tight deadlines and a variety of topics. You don’t mind working long hours, dealing with members of the public (who are regularly wary of media), and competing with peers from other news organizations.
Requirements… Because of the specific methodologies of this career, an education in journalism or broadcasting is highly recommended, including a Master’s degree in Journalism. History courses can be combined with an undergraduate degree in journalism, and an undergraduate focus on history can, with practical experience, help one enter graduate studies in journalism. A strong portfolio of journalistic work is key to the job search.
Journalists operate in a variety of media that are undergoing profound transformations. The world of print journalism is increasingly shifting to the electronic as newspaper and magazines become more widely read using mobile devices. Broadcast media faces increased competition from often free online streaming media that overshadows the already unwieldy 500-channel universe that emerged not so long ago. While community-based newspapers, radio and television had staff levels scaled back over the past few decades as many of them were amalgamated into larger corporations, electronic media presents a whole new range of possibilities for emerging writers and journalists. In addition to an education in history, completing a diploma or degree in journalism or broadcasting can help provide the necessary skills to work in the field. Consider what the program offers in relation to your own goals as they vary – some are specific to practical training for students to work for different types of media while others get more into theories and practices of journalism.
Present and Past
Consider the similarities and differences between journalism and history. Journalism, of course, is rooted in current affairs – in other words, the present. This means going out and talking to living people, focusing on why this is relevant to the reader and viewer now, and quickly producing content so it does not become old news. Yet the historian brings a skill to the field that, combined with a strong journalistic portfolio, can give them an edge: historical perspective. The ability to enter events in the present and put them into historical context that enables people to better understand the issues at stake is an indispensable approach that may be exactly what an editor or producer is looking for in a new staff member.
Some starting points
The Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) is an excellent place to get started, including the principles and ethics of journalism, as well as advice to students and career resources. Further resources can be found on American Journalism Review’s website. The Canadian Journalism Project is an excellent site to learn more about the present issues pertaining to this career. And the Canadian Association of Journalists advocates on behalf of Canadian journalists. Canadian journalist and career website creator Jeff Gaulin gives an honest answer to the question, “Is there money in a journalism career?”. Media Job Search Canada posts current positions as does Jeff Gaulin. In the UK, journalism.co.uk is an excellent resource. If you wish to travel and gain experience in journalism, Traveller’s Worldwide has a list of some internship programs in different countries.
Do you have further insights on careers involving journalism and history, or additional information that we can add here? If so, please contact us so we can refine this resource.