Journalism, as it is, is not mere a profession, it’s a passion that becomes your identity for the rest of your life. While in the profession, one has choices of choosing the beat (genre / area of specialisation) that one wants to. The person can do justice to his profession only if the beat he has chosen is the best one, as per his understanding and knowledge.
The most common beats of a journalist in a newspaper area –
- Crime beat – will cover everything that has police involved. May it be railway police, home guards, traffic police or the state police; it all comes under crime beat.
- Health – will have everything related to health it could be private and government hospitals, diseases, vaccinations and much more.
- Civic reporting – includes right from the pot hole on the road to the administration that plans the city. Common man’s problems ranging from water to public transport, everything comes under civic reporting.
- Education – covers schools, colleges, new courses and education boards.
- Politics – as the name itself says is nothing but pure politics. Elections, assembly, parliament and anything that has politicians involved, is Politics.
- Features – It could be anything right from latest trend to restaurants. A good holiday spot to a weekend getaway, anything that does not belong to other beats is a feature.
Most of these beats are hard reporting, which means, the stories being reported are time-bound. It needs the reporter to be at the spot and visit the area, meet people and write the story the same day. A feature story is the only beat wherein the reporter has the leisure of time. It’s usually a trend-bound or season-bound story which will not lose its shelf life in a day or two.
But beyond these usual-beats, journalism has a few off-beat options too especially when it comes to reporting for a niche magazine. Every magazine has its own niche, some are technology related while some politics, some photography, some jewellery, some fashion and some are about science and medicine.
To do justice to these magazines, one has to be an expert in that particular niche to which the magazine belongs to. It is not possible for a journalist to be master of all the genres. Every person has his own forte and to realise the right forte is the first step towards a successful journey of journalism.
Once you know what your forte is, the next challenge is to get a job from the same field. Once the right forte and right job is at place, experience is enough to make you a known journalist from your field.
Before entering the world of journalism, the thumb- rule is to first identify your area of interest and accordingly choose the course to study and develop skill in a particular genre.