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NOC Code: NOC Code: 5123 Occupation: Journalists
Occupation Description: Occupation Description:
Journalists research, investigate, interpret and communicate news and public affairs through newspapers, television, radio and other media. Journalists are employed by radio and television networks and stations, newspapers and magazines. Journalists may also work on a freelance basis. Journalists research, investigate, interpret and communicate news and public affairs through newspapers, television, radio and other media. Journalists are employed by radio and television networks and stations, newspapers and magazines. Journalists may also work on a freelance basis.

  • Click on any of the Essential Skills to view sample workplace tasks for this occupation.
  • Skill levels are assigned to tasks: Level 1 tasks are the least complex and level 4 or 5 tasks (depending upon the specific skill) are the most complex. Skill levels are associated with workplace tasks and not the workers performing these tasks.
  • Scroll down the page to get information on career planning, education and training, and employment and volunteer opportunities.

Table will display the Skill Level for the Noc specified
Essential Skills Essential Skills Levels
Reading Text Reading Text 1 2 3 4 5
Writing Writing 1 2 3 4 5
Document Use Document Use 1 2 3
Computer Use Computer Use 1 2 3
Oral Communication Oral Communication 1 2 3 4
Money Math Money Math 1 2 3
Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting 1 2 3
Measurement and Calculation Measurement and Calculation 1 2
Data Analysis Data Analysis 1 2
Numerical Estimation Numerical Estimation 1 2
Job Task Planning and Organizing Job Task Planning and Organizing 1 2 3
Decision Making Decision Making 1 2 3
Problem Solving Problem Solving 1 2 3
Finding Information Finding Information 1 2 3 4
Critical Thinking Critical Thinking 1 2 3


  • The skill levels represented in the above chart illustrate the full range of sample tasks performed by experienced workers and not individuals preparing for or entering this occupation for the first time.
  • Note that some occupational profiles do not include all Numeracy and Thinking Essential Skills.

If you would like to print a copy of the chart and sample tasks, click on the "Print Occupational Profile" button at the top of the page.


Reading Text
  • Review notes you have taken at meetings, presentations and interviews for information such as factual details, your own and others' impressions, quotes and sequences of events. Rely on these notes to create accurate and interesting news stories, magazine articles and editorials. (2)
  • Read letters and email from members of the public to gather ideas and background information for news stories and magazine articles. For example, read letters and email in which people recount personal experiences that may be of interest to the general public. (2)
  • Read short text passages in forms. For example, read descriptions and instructions in program content forms and government request for information forms. (2)
  • Read press releases announcing upcoming events from a wide range of organizations. (2)
  • Read news stories, features and articles in the organization's archives and in other publications to develop story ideas and to research specific topics. Read archived stories for information related to current events that are being researched. For example, a journalist may read archived news articles about provincial funding of health care to place an announcement of new spending in context. (3)
  • Read users' manuals for instructions on how to operate equipment such as digital cameras, tape recorders and computer software. (3)
  • Read articles in trade publications for journalists such as Editor and Publisher and the Columbia Journalism Review. For example, read articles which profile leading personalities, present new methodologies and discuss current issues in journalism. (3)
  • Read a wide range of reports when conducting research for news stories, magazine articles and features. For example, read scientific reports which compare carbon emissions from different sources, coroners' reports on the causes of abnormal deaths, research papers on immigration and employment levels and reports on a variety of topics issued by the United Nations and various non-governmental organizations. Read these reports to locate facts, identify themes, analyze for biases and contradictions and judge the validity of conclusions for the purpose of developing credible news stories, articles and editorials. (4)
  • Read legislation, court judgements, requests for proposals and contracts. For example, a reporter reads legislation on environmental standards and legal briefs on pollution cases when researching a series of news stories on pollution charges against particular industries. A political columnist may read a provincial government's Speech from the Throne to prepare commentary about potential effects for various interest groups. A court reporter may read a lengthy Supreme Court decision to write a commentary on the constitutionality of a drunk driving charge. An investigative reporter reads requests for proposals and contracts for large public works projects when developing a story on government accountability. (4)
  • Read literature such as books, plays and poems to review them for audiences and to prepare for interviewing the authors. Study the content and structure of literary works to comment on their intellectual and aesthetic merits. (5)
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Writing
  • Write reminders for events to cover and contacts to call. (1)
  • Write notes during events such as meetings, press conferences, interviews, debates in the legislature, court cases and arts performances. Record factual details, impressions, quotes and sequences of events. Write notes that can be used for creating news stories. (2)
  • Write letters and emails to co-workers, colleagues and members of the public. For example, write letters to request interviews with politicians, artists and experts in various fields. Write email messages to superiors to report on the progress of ongoing work and to confirm deadlines. Write letters in response to comments and criticism from the audience. Print journalists may write emails to co-workers and colleagues to request and provide criticism of the content and style of news stories, columns, editorials and features. (3)
  • Write short news stories. For example, write brief stories about breaking news events such as fires and car accidents. Present the facts using a pyramid style in which the most salient facts are placed first and then followed with details of decreasing importance so that these can be edited out without affecting the meaning of the story. Broadcast journalists may write short news stories that can be read in two to three minutes They may reformat longer stories for broadcast purposes. They may condense complex information into concise points that can be easily understood by listeners and viewers. (3)
  • Write scripts for news presentations. For example, write scripts that introduce and knit together the numerous story items which make-up news broadcasts. (3)
  • Write columns, reviews and editorials. Present commentary and critiques which present your own opinions and analyses of current events. Write using unique styles and points of view that allow audiences to identify your personality and background. For example, columnists who have been influential figures in politics, business and social activism may write pieces characterized by audiences as leaning to the right or left. Arts reviewers may write retrospectives of artists' lives. They may present their own interpretations of artists' achievements and assessments of their influences on other artists. (4)
  • Write proposals and 'concept pitches' for editors and producers. For example, describe content and approaches for proposed news stories, feature articles and special interest programming. Outline the appeal of proposed projects to audiences, publishers and broadcasters. Write synopses and describe novel approaches that will enhance audience appeal. Present cases for extra funding and staff support as required. (4)
  • Write longer articles and news stories that explore topics in depth, draw on extensive research and capture the drama of events. Write human interest stories using a narrative style that portrays emotional nuances and engages the sympathy of audience. Write investigative articles about controversial topics such as conflict of interest by politicians, pollution by industries and contravention of civil rights. For example, an investigative reporter writes a series of articles about environmental pollution by various industries. The articles not only recount events but also integrate the complexities of contradictory regulations, disputes over which level of government has jurisdiction, scientific evidence and opinion and the strengths and weaknesses of court judgements. (5)
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Document Use
  • Observe directional and hazard signs at your own work place and in the course of travelling to and from reporting locations. For example, look at identification signs in production rooms, read road signs to locate events you are covering and observe warning signs at crime and accident scenes. (1)
  • Locate data such as names, dates, times, locations and descriptions in lists and entry forms. For example, scan lists of compact discs to be reviewed and lists of officials attending events. Scan court dockets for the times, locations and descriptions of cases to be tried. Review disclosure forms to ensure all required information is included. (2)
  • Enter names, dates, titles, descriptions and other data in entry forms. For example, complete request for information forms, media registration forms and expense claims. Self-employed and free-lance journalists may complete invoices for work performed. (2)
  • Locate data in tables. For example, political and business reporters may examine the budgets of governments and corporations for data such as line item expenditures, revenue sources and variances between budgeted amounts and periodic year-end projections. Movie reviewers may study film festival schedules for titles, descriptions, screening times and venue locations to plan which films to see. Broadcast journalists may scan production schedules for data such as program items and the sources, durations, start and end times and the names of personnel responsible for news items. (2)
  • Interpret documents associated with specialized subjects which are being covered. For example, journalists who write about architecture and real estate may look at architectural drawings of public buildings such as art galleries and municipal halls. Reporters for home and leisure magazines may look at floor plans for homes and condominiums. Journalist covering sports may review engineered drawings for bobsled, luge and speed skating arenas in order to describe their features and critique their construction. (3)
  • Locate data in graphs. For example, science journalists may study graphs of contaminant levels in water bodies and disease rates in different populations. Broadcast journalists may interpret sound wave graphs to identify audio edit points. (3)
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Computer Use
  • Use email programs such as Outlook to exchange email messages and attachments with co-workers, colleagues and informants within the community. (2)
  • Use word processing software such as Word, ClarisWorks and TextEdit to write, edit and format news stories, feature columns and other texts. Use news industry-specific software such as Adobe IN-Copy, Quark CopyDesk and Electronic News Processing System, to write, edit, track changes and format news copy. (2)
  • Access information on the organization's intranet. Use browsers such as Internet Explorer to locate information on the Internet. (2)
  • Use databases. For example, maintain databases of media contacts and access story files in in-house archives. Use database software such as Access and FoxPro to create databases and for data such as political party members and government job appointees. Use single purpose database software such as Maximizer to manage databases of contacts, letters and notes. (3)
  • Use graphics software. For example, use photo editing software such as Adobe PhotoShop to resize and enhance photos taken by digital cameras. Convert digital image formats for publication in different contexts. (3)
  • Create spreadsheets to record data such as hours worked on various projects and to generate graphs of data. (3)
  • Use software. For example, broadcast journalists may use a variety of software designed for audio and video news production. Television journalists may use the Electronic News Processing System to enter and locate data in news program scheduling templates. Radio journalists may use Newsboss and Dalet to edit and assemble audio clips. They may use Cool Edit Pro and Adobe Audition to record and edit audio clips and to convert analog audio files into MP3 format. (3)
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Oral Communication
  • Discuss ongoing work with co-workers and suppliers. For example, confirm deadlines with editors, exchange news updates with newsroom team members, inform technicians of story tags and lengths and listen to instructions from studio directors. Order books and compact discs to review and arrange travel and accommodation for coverage of out of town events. (1)
  • Discuss the technical aspects of writing, editing, publishing and broadcasting with co-workers and colleagues. For example, discuss the editing of news stories and magazine articles with editors. Debate ideas for news stories and television programs with producers. (2)
  • Listen to live and taped presentations such as speeches, debates, panel discussions, interviews, concerts and poetry readings. Listen to gather specific details, identify themes, generate ideas for articles, reviews and commentaries and select effective quotes. Listen for gaps, ambiguities and contradictions that require further research. (2)
  • Interview politicians, police officers, subject matter experts, public relations professionals, members of the public and other informants. Communicate with these people to gather and confirm information, seek leads and secure interviews. For example, speak with officials in police and fire departments, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canadian Secret Intelligence Service and municipal governments about events such as bomb threats and chemical spills in the area. Ask the 'who, what, where, when, why and how' questions and listen carefully to determine if further probing will produce more details and leads. Question eye witnesses, speak with scientists and bomb disposal experts and negotiate with secretaries and communications directors for access to interviewees such as politicians and company presidents. Communicate with expert informants to stay abreast of current activities in the beats you cover. (3)
  • Present news and feature stories on-air. For example, journalists who work in broadcast media present news and commentaries orally. They communicate in an authoritative and engaging manner in order to command the attention of large viewing and listening audiences. They may improvise dialogue with co-workers to fill in the time before sign-off. They may speak extemporaneously during panel discussions and live coverage of events such as elections. (3)
  • Give presentations and participate in workshop discussions at professional conferences. For example, a music reviewer may make a presentation on trends in jazz at an International Jazz Association conference. (3)
  • Discuss the risks and consequences of publishing news stories, features and editorials with lawyers and managers. Describe in detail the steps taken to obtain accurate information and representative viewpoints. (3)
  • Conduct on-air interviews with people such as leaders in political, social and cultural arenas. Speak clearly and in an engaging manner and ask questions that elicit informative, revealing and entertaining responses. Journalists may also be the subjects of interviews. They need to think quickly and draw on considerable background knowledge to communicate with poise and credibility. (4)
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Money Math
  • Calculate amounts for travel reimbursements. For example, calculate costs of transportation, meals and accommodation for covering out of town events. Calculate amounts using per diem rates for meals and incidentals and per kilometre rates for the use of personal vehicles. (2)
  • Calculate amounts for invoices and cost projections. Calculate billing amounts using per word and per column inch rates. Calculate applicable taxes. (3)
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Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting
  • Schedule program content. For example, television journalists may build news broadcasts by sequencing multiple news stories of varying durations and inserting scripts which tie the stories together. They adjust these schedules as late-breaking news happens and as expected news items fall through. They edit scripts to ensure that programs precisely fill allotted times. (3)
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Measurement and Calculation
  • Measure lengths of time taken to read news stories, commentaries and other script elements. (1)
  • Calculate numbers of hours spent on reporting and writing projects. (2)
  • Calculate lengths of news stories and articles in column inches. (2)
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Data Analysis
  • Verify data reported in news stories, commentaries and magazine articles. For example, a reporter may compare dollar amounts presented by event organizers with those stated in construction contracts. (2)
  • Calculate production statistics. For example, calculate the average number of news stories submitted weekly and calculate distributions of news story topics presented by the organization. (2)
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Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate numbers of people at events such as meetings, political demonstrations and arts performances. (1)
  • Estimate jail terms, vote counts, building costs and other quantities. For example, a journalist may estimate the probable jail time an offender will serve given the offence and terms usually served for similar offences. (2)
  • Estimate times required to complete tasks such as attending events, scheduling and conducting interviews and writing stories. Broadcast journalists also estimate how long it will take to wrap up live interviews. (2)
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Job Task Planning and Organizing
  • Journalists organize their own tasks to meet hourly, daily and longer-term deadlines. They plan job tasks such as attending meetings and events, conducting research and interviews and writing and presenting news stories, commentaries and features. They generally have several projects at various stages of development. Their schedules are frequently interrupted by breaking news. They must remain flexible to respond quickly, capitalize on reporting opportunities and meet deadlines. (3)
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Decision Making
  • Decide to seek help with subjects on which you lack expertise, such as seeking the help of business writers and accountants in analyzing complex budgets for investigative stories. You risk weakening your professional reputations with colleagues and co-workers by not making the proper decision. (2)
  • Decide to start, delay and cease work on news stories, commentaries, reviews and editorials. For example, a reporter may decide to stop pursuing a news story because information is insufficient or unverifiable. The reporter considers whether alternative news items can be developed and asks editors for approval to pursue alternatives. (2)
  • Choose news sources and informants. For example, foster relationships with local businesspeople according to their reliability and the range of information they can provide. (2)
  • Select topics to propose for news stories, features and reviews. Consider the numbers of people who may be interested in the topics and access to relevant information and interviewees. For example, after doing a news story on the discovery of mould in local schools, a journalist proposes a series of articles on the environmental health of schools. The reporter supports the idea because public reaction to the event is intense, there are a variety of reports and studies available and the reporter has a network of contacts within school boards and health ministries. (3)
  • Select questions to ask during interviews. Select questions that will elicit relevant facts, clear explanations, genuine emotions, stimulating insights and concise yet revealing quotes. Consider the roles of interviewees in events, their qualifications and their varying communication abilities. Adjust choices according to the focus of the stories and interviewees' responses. (3)
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Problem Solving
  • Receive complaints from audience members about story content and tone. Acknowledge the audience's concerns, explain the reasons for the presentation and offer to make adjustments if appropriate. For example, a journalist finds that organizers of a festival are unhappy that the journalists' article critiqued various artists without covering the festival experience as a whole. The journalist suggests options such as writing a small article about the festival for the weekend paper. (2)
  • Discover factual errors in stories prior to and after printing and broadcast. Contact editors, printers and technicians to make changes before final production if possible. If it is too late, follow the organization's procedures for issuing corrections. (2)
  • Experience difficulty completing job tasks planned due to failures in equipment. For example, find that tape recorders and digital cameras fail during events. Try solutions such as consulting equipment manuals, taking more detailed notes and arranging for follow-up interview appointments. (2)
  • Face hostile interviewees and crowds when covering volatile situations. For example, a reporter covering a shooting finds that bystanders are angry because they feel the shooting was racially motivated. Eyewitnesses refuse to be interviewed and the reporter receives insults and threats. The reporter tries to calm the crowd by telling them their viewpoint should be voiced, discreetly obtains phone numbers from people who appear ready for interviews later and moves away from the area of danger. (3)
  • People mentioned in news stories, commentaries, feature columns and critical reviews have decided to sue. Review meeting logs, notebooks, tapes and other documents to check that facts and reporting procedures were correct. Consult with managers and lawyers to identify risks, faults and best solutions. (3)
  • News stories, commentaries and program concepts have been rejected by editors and producers. Acknowledge areas of weakness, point out areas of strength and seek suggestions for improvements. In some cases, diplomatically suggest that the scope and focus of assignments had not been clearly communicated. (3)
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Finding Information
  • Find leads and tips for news stories and feature articles by interviewing witnesses to crimes, politicians and other informants, by reading press releases, court case transcripts and other documents and by talking to colleagues. (3)
  • Find information about public administration and finance. For example, search federal government publications provided by Info Source and speak with officials in government departments. It may be necessary to submit multiple applications under Access to Information legislation to obtain needed information. (3)
  • Find information about news events, people in the news and other newsworthy topics. Use libraries, Internet search engines and search alert services to locate information. Read newspaper and journal articles, books, reports, websites, press releases, requests for proposals and contracts. Listen to audio recordings and view video selections. Interview key players in events such as eyewitnesses, officials, crime suspects and crime victims, politicians and public relations directors. Obtain explanations and commentary about specialized fields from experts such as professors and members of policy institutes. (4)
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Critical Thinking
  • Judge the mood of interviewees. For example, listen to interviewees' responses, observe their body language and draw on experience and intuition to determine if more pressure can be applied to interviewees in order to obtain further information without losing the cooperation of the interviewees. (2)
  • Assess the credibility and accuracy of information received. Examine the qualifications of information sources and the reliability of the information that has been provided in the past. Analyze the relationships that sources have with various organizations and interest groups to detect possible biases. Also verify the information with alternate sources. (2)
  • Assess the costs and benefits of publishing and broadcasting controversial and sensitive material. For example, assess the costs and benefits of including racist remarks, details about child molestations and the possibility of criminal charges against public officials in news stories. Weigh the mandate to inform the public against the risk of offending and harming individuals and incurring legal liability for damages. Consider the extent the material is needed for the clarity and balance of news presentations and the likelihood that competitors will present the information first. (3)
  • Evaluate the quality of things such as books, plays, musical performances, restaurants and wines when writing reviews. Apply your own preferences and the aesthetic, intellectual and professional criteria established by experts in relevant fields. For example, music reviewers may assess concert performances using criteria such as tempo, dynamics and novelty of interpretation. Food writers may assess the freshness of ingredients, the visual appeal of presentations and the efficiency of service in restaurants. (3)
  • Assess the clarity, accuracy and balance of news stories and feature articles before submitting them. Check that all relevant information has been presented coherently and that the language used is appropriate for the subject matter and audience. Ask assistants to verify facts using reliable sources. Confirm that varying points of view have been included and that personal biases have not unduly affected the emphases of news stories. (3)
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