Can a Felon Become a Journalist?

There are resources available for felons to start a new career as many employers have found that felons make good employees. Some felons may have an interest in news and current events, and think of becoming a journalist after their release.

This blog post will address the issue of whether or not a felon can become a journalist.

  • What Is a Journalist?
  • What Education/Training Does a Journalist Need?
  • How Much Does a Journalist Earn?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Recommended Action

What Is a Journalist?

A journalist is someone who investigates events and presents information in a news story. A journalist presents the news in an honest and ethical way.

The news accounts can be delivered through different means. The traditional role of a journalist is to write articles for the newspaper or a magazine. More recently, this has expanded to include reporting on TV, radio, and even on the internet.

A journalist has many duties, including:

  • Researching topics for stories
  • Interviewing people regarding a story
  • Writing articles
  • Reviewing articles for accuracy
  • Checking facts
  • Updating stories with new information

A successful journalist has many qualities, including:

  • Curiosity
  • Research skills
  • Interest in current events
  • Communication skills
  • Strong editing and proofreading skills
  • Detail-oriented
  • Strong English skills
  • Ability to work well alone or on a team
  • Ability to handle multiple demands
  • Strong technical skills
  • Determination and persistence

What Education/Training Does a Journalist Need?

Most journalists have a bachelor’s degree in journalism or communications. Some may have a degree in a related subject, such as English or political science, and relevant work experience. There is no license or certification necessary to be a journalist.

Bachelor’s degree programs in journalism and communications include classes in:

  • Ethics
  • Research for stories
  • Conducting interviews
  • English
  • History
  • Economics
  • Political science

Some journalism students may take classes in:

  • Video
  • Audio
  • Data
  • Graphics

Some schools offer graduate programs in journalism and communications. These programs can prepare students who have a bachelor’s degree in another field to become journalists.

Employers generally require workers to have experience gained through an internship. While attending college, many students seek different internships with various news organizations such as a college newspaper or radio station.

How Much Does a Journalist Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there are approximately 50,400 journalists in the United States.

The median annual salary for journalists in 2016 was $38,870 annually. The median is that salary which half of the journalists receive more than and half receive less.

Geographic location, specialization, and experience could have a significant impact on these earnings. A journalist on the East or West coast typically receives a higher salary than one in other areas of the country.

This occupation is expected to show a 9% decline by 2026. This is due to changing means of delivering information to the public.

An Opportunity for Felons?

A felon can pursue any degree he or she wants. Approximately 60% of colleges consider criminal history in their admissions process, although there is no standard policy regarding a background check. Any felon that wants to get a degree to be able to become a journalist can find a college that will accept him or her.

A felon may have difficulty getting accepted into some schools, but there are many journalism programs that will accept a felon.

It is important to be honest when applying for a position as a journalist. If a felony isn’t disclosed but is found on a background check, this constitutes fraud and is punishable. It is a crime to falsify an application which could result in being sent back to prison.

In order to be successful as a journalist it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. They are already viewed with negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.

Having their record expunged can give them the chance needed to begin with a clean record and succeed in becoming a journalist. Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that he or she has not been convicted of a crime.

Recommended Action

It is a significant challenge, but it might be worth it for a felon that wants to become a journalist. Having his or her record expunged and also documenting any training programs or additional education could make the essential difference in a felon succeeding in becoming a journalist.

Having support from family, friends, or previous employers can make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. We are not defined by our mistakes but by how we recover from them. He or she can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.

What do you think about this blog post? Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a journalist with a felony? What was that like for him or her, and how did he or she achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.


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