According to the Bureau of Labor, there are about 52,000 reporters, correspondents, and news analysts in America today. However, this number doesn’t encompass all of the different roles journalists take on or get into the specifics of the niches they work within.
When you want to start a career in journalism, the gamut of opportunities can run wide. After getting a degree in journalism and entering the workforce, it may be hard to decide where to start.
The first step for any successful journalist is discovering how to find your niche. The reality is that no one is equipped to cover every topic every day, and it’s best to put your best efforts into one realm of expertise that speaks to you.
Most journalists have wide-ranging interests. How do you narrow that down and find your niche? Read on to find out.
Consider Your Own Areas of Expertise
Whether your background in writing comes from a university or professional setting, it’s important to recognize two things. The first is that you’re a solid writer and that confidence should carry you from one job application to the next. The second is that writing is your craft but it is not your area of expertise.
The first thing you should do when deciding on a journalistic niche is to examine what you know a lot about, what valuable skills you have, and how those things contribute to the kinds of topics you’re best suited to write about.
First, let’s talk about knowledge. What kinds of topics are you highly knowledgeable about?
This could be, for example, history or it could be science. Perhaps you’re highly knowledgeable about global economics or maybe you’ve become the ultimate trivia buff on local politics.
The idea is not to suggest that there is any subject you know everything about. Instead, the idea is to think about the kinds of subjects that would require less footwork for you because you already know quite a bit about them.
In addition to what you know, you should also consider what you’re good at. Of course, you know that writing is high up on your list of skills, but that’s not all there is to it.
For example, perhaps you possess strong research skills. If someone wants an answer, you know how to track it down the right way.
Perhaps you are great with people. You can conduct an interview that makes your interviewee feel relaxed and trusting, allowing you to get the best answers possible.
Make a detailed list of your top technical and personal skills that lend themselves to journalism and keep these skills in mind as you look for a niche that suits you best.
Contemplate Your Passions
If a career in journalism calls to you, it’s most likely because you have an inherent passion for writing. Most journalists are also drawn to this line of work because it is one of the career fields that allow you to combine your passion for writing with the rest of your passions.
The truth is that not everyone gets to land their dream job in journalism straight out of the gate. However, knowing what you’re most passionate about is an important way to start off on the right foot. You can look for assignments and entry-level opportunities that will build up your experience in that particular niche.
Some of the key areas in journalism include:
- Investigative and watchdog journalism
- Opinion and lifestyle journalism
- Sports journalism
- Trade and economic journalism
- Entertainment journalism
- Political journalism
Oftentimes, the closer you are to writing about your passions, the more your talent as a journalist will shine through. Plus, working within a sub-field that you love will make a career as a journalist far more sustainable. When you love what you do, it’s much easier to face the difficulties and hardships that can come with this competitive field.
Take a Look at Your Job Market and Find the Void
Finding your niche isn’t just about looking inward at your own expertise and passion. It also involves looking outward at the job market, locating any voids, and determining whether or not you can fill them. In other words, what positions are open that are available to fill?
Sometimes, figuring out how to fill a void in your job market means making tough decisions.
For example, recent reports indicate that small communities are in serious need of journalists with a strictly local focus. However, that void exists, in part, because of the lack of funding local newspapers and channels are often dealing with. In a situation like this, filling the void can come with the sacrifice of accepting lower pay.
Figure Out the Intersection of All Three
If you’re following along with this process, you should have a solid list of your areas of expertise (including your knowledge and skills), your passions, and the voids that need to be filled in your job market. Now, it’s time to find the spaces where these three components intersect.
Sometimes, filling the void has to take precedence over following your expertise and passion. However, it’s important to also know what your weaknesses are when navigating this process. If you love sports but the void isn’t there, a better compromise for you might be entertainment rather than politics or economics.
Learn How to Find Your Niche and Narrow Down Your Path
Beginning your career in journalism can feel overwhelming in the beginning. There are so many different directions you can take, whether you’re writing at a local, national, or international level. Learning how to find your niche can help you narrow down your path and take the right steps at the beginning to achieve your journalism dreams.
Are you ready to step away from all of the clutter and misinformation online and get back to the basics of journalism? Are you looking to boost the visibility of your quality content? Find out more about how Journalism Online is here to help you.