What are the Important Qualities of a Good Journalist?

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A good education, good health, considerable patience and determination-these essentials are shared by journalism with other professions. But the journalist, besides possessing these endowments, must primarily have that instinct of discreet value for information, that "nose for news", as it has been aptly expressed, without which he may be pursuing a calling for which he is not meant.

He should be the man, who can read sermons in stones; who in the dullest incidents and topics can see first-rate copy lurking in unsuspected places. That is the first of all qualifications which he should possess. Then, he must be a person who can put his whole personality in the assignment he is called upon to perform.

Art of Selecting the Matter:

The most frequent mistake which a novice makes is to select such a theme as is pleasing to him and then to write on that, forgetting that journals are published not for the benefit of writers but readers.

For a journalist, the chief art lies in selection. The clever jour­nalist is known by his ability to separate the chaff from the wheat; the human interest from the dull. He will look on events and people not in regard to themselves but the manner in which they are likely to appeal to his readers.

Walking down the Metropolis, you may notice a poorly-clad creature wandering along the gutter bearing a sand­wich board on his shoulders. There is nothing particularly exciting about this beggar man as such. But supposing you learn that the beggar is really a sportsman was doing it for a wager, or a former leader fallen on hard times, the appearance of that ragged man suddenly has to you an entirely altered appearance.

You instinctively get him to tell you his life-story, and, unless you make a complete use of the chance offered, it is good for at least a quarter of a column for the page of your paper next morning, with a suitable heading to herald it. At least nine-tenths of your readers will be interested, for there is sympathy of a sort even in the elitist humanity.

Now, is it enough to have a "nose for news". The journalist must have more than a literary bias-he must be able to dish up that incident of the beggar according to the exact taste of his read­ers.

Again, a journalist must be able to estimate the comparative value of news. Let us suppose he is entrusted with the "make up" of a newspaper. It has been an exciting night. No end of excellent copy has been pouring in from all over the world and from world capitals on the States. Among many items of information, which have filtered in are the following:

Soviet Statute Draft Approved

India's plea on Resources at Fund Bank Annual Meet

Shah Commission to open Probe into Allegations against Mrs. Gandhi

Fresh strain in Centre-State Relations Reported

Dacca Reply on Farakka Awaited

Seventeen Die in Air Crash North of Kuala Lumpur

Countrywide Strike by Bank, L.I.C. Staff

Prime Minister replies to CPI Memorandum on Harijans

George Bush Finis to Break Ice in Peking

N-Missiles for Chinese Army

Stress on Third World Solidarity at U.N. General Assembly Meeting.

A capable journalist will, according to the class of paper for which he is responsible, know how to apportion to each item of news the right prominence and length without allowing his own feelings and interest to run away with him.

Without restraining the effect too much at the expense of the other items of news, a daily which has a national circulation, may arrange the incidents in the following order or value:

Stress on Third World Solidarity at U.N. General Assembly Meeting

Shah Commission to open Probe into Allegations against Mrs. Gandhi

Seventeen Die in Air Crash North of Kuala Lumpur

Dacca Reply on Farakka Awaited

Prime Minister Replies to CPI Memorandum on Harijans

Fresh Strain in Centre-State Relations Reported

Soviet Statute Draft Approved

India's plea on Resources at Fund Bank Annual Meet

George Bush Fails to Break Ice in Peking

N-Missiles for Chinese Army

Thus, the journalist must not only have the instinct for finding news, but he must also know which news to keep and which to throw away and having finally selected his news, he must know the value of each and how to treat it.


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