There’s a lot wrong with journalism these days. Objectivity has been replaced with blatant bias. Integrity has been lost to advertising dollars and sponsorships. Fact-checking and research are dead skills. True journalism is a dying art.
If you want to be a journalist — whether for news, sports, food, or whatever other topic — then there are some important things you need to know before diving in. And while you’d benefit greatly by attending journalism school, maybe you can’t afford to right now.
Fortunately, the Internet is chock full of free resources for learning journalism. Here are some of the must-read (or must-watch) materials that you shouldn’t overlook or miss.
Texts and Books
The free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough.And that simply isn’t possible unless you, the journalist, approach each piece with an ethical mindset that promotes integrity above all else. That’s why the SPJ has a free Code of Ethics available online that you can reference at any time from anywhere.
According to the SPJ, ethical journalism adheres to four principles:
- Seek truth and report it.
- Minimize harm.
- Act independently.
- Be accountable and transparent.
In short, she knows her stuff — and as you read this handbook, you’ll realize that she really knows her stuff. This 68-page PDF document covers seven critical aspects of modern journalism:
- What Is News?
- Getting the Story
- Telling the Story
- Editing the Story
- Broadcast and Online
- Specialized Journalism
- Ethics and Law
This book isn’t just about mastery of the language itself, but the ability to use language to convey what you really mean. Words are the only tools available to journalists, so it makes sense to sharpen those skills as much as possible, right?
Writing for Success is available in five formats: PDF, EPUB, MOBI, WXR, or web online.
In short, Communication Theory explores various theories on how humans share, encode, and decode what they know, what they need, and what they expect from each other. It’s not a book specifically about journalism, but the concepts within will prove useful to any good journalist.
However, be warned that this book is dry, dense, and tough to get through. You may want to put it towards the back of your reading list. Communication Theory is also available in a printable version and a PDF version.
The Journalism section is broken into seven main sections:
- Skills (e.g. interviewing, reporting, writing)
- Subject Guides (e.g. religion, military, science, sport)
- Law (e.g. courts, copyright, privacy)
- Values (e.g. impartiality, truth, accuracy)
- Safety (e.g. hostile environments)
- Getting a Job
- BBC’s Style Guide
There are two ways to take advantage of News University. First, check out the available Journalism and Training Resources that cover tips and articles related to reporting, writing, editing, etc. Second, enroll in one or more of the University’s free webinar courses.
The webinar schedule is constantly updating with new courses, but some are available year-round. For example, the Cleaning Your Copy and Freedom of Information courses are self-directed and very useful for new journalists.
Again, a lot of the tips and articles are short and succinct, so I wouldn’t use this website as my only source of knowledge and training. However, it makes for an awesome long-term reference of tips. Just bookmark it and come back to it from time to time to refresh yourself on the basics.
While the program has offered distance learning opportunities in the past, there hasn’t been one since 2014. Instead, the best way to take advantage of this site is to visit the digital library of free books where you’ll find a handful of books that can be downloaded free of charge.
The four courses are:
- Verification: The Basics
- Google Search for Journalists
- Managing Data Journalism Projects
- Doing Journalism with Data
Where Else to Learn Journalism Online?The Internet is a deep and vast resource and we’re aware that there are probably dozens — maybe even hundreds — of other free resources and courses for learning journalism online. You may even want to check out the courses on Udemy or these other online course sites.
And don’t forget that journalism is more than just CNN and BBC these days. Citizen journalism on social media is becoming more and more prominent, and these skills can help you improve in that way as well.