Journalist: Generalist Vs Specialist

Conventionally, journalists are to be exposed to the general beats so as to be familiar with almost everything in the society. With this, they have a broader view of the world as they are drilled on the nitty-gritty of the noble profession. Thereafter, it is expected that each journalist specialises so that he or she carves out a niche for themselves in a particular area of the profession. It is in this context that they can be referred to as expert or specialist in the profession.


A journalist is regarded as a moving encyclopaedia of knowledge because they get, process and sift deluge of information and give back to society through their surveillance of the environment.

Being a jack of all trades in journalism profession, he or she is an all-rounder, an egg-head, a book-worm, an inquisitive mind, a social critic, a torch bearer, an environmental scanner and a social reformer.

Any professional in journalism profession is a generalist so to speak as he noses for news, information, knowledge and human interest stories to know something about everything and everything about something. He finds out information about almost every segment of the environment and everything about a particular subject, personality, institution and many more.

Therefore, a journalist who knows their onions should be able to cover stories in health, education, business, politics, religion, entertainment, style, environment, ICT, science, art and culture, reviews, crime, travel and tourism, aviation, sports, property, technology and many other beats.

At least, he should garner this huge knowledge as a greenhorn to a thorough-bred professional. By so doing, they know what makes the news as it will give them a well grounded background of several beats through direct observation of places, people as well as interviews for VIPs' and commoners' attribution of their stories. It will also equip them to write good feature stories and publishable articles in reputable newspapers and on website pages.

In this way, a generalist reporter will have a wider view of the world as they will be at vantage position to view issues and agenda of the media.

However, specialised ,reporting entails having a specific area that a reporter works on continuously. In this area, he or she becomes master of the journalistic game; a specialist. Thus, we have editorial writers, book reviewers, health reporters, sports commentators, business or science reporters as specialised writers. The list is endless. Their work will make productions like health magazine, business magazine, sports newspaper or education newspaper/magazine.

The need to stand out among practitioners, to be more professionalised and make more of investigative journalism will necessitate being a specialised writer in our society. A specialist reporter has elaborate knowledge of their specialised area in media, public relations, advertising, photo-journalism, integrated marketing communication, brand communication, publishing, stock exchange, building technology, farming and so on.

Many specialised writers, largely speaking, have emerged best in national and international media awards. This is because jobs of specialised professionals are easily spotted, appraised and specially focused.

Katib is Public Relations Officer while Oladele is a Printing Technologist at Crescent University,Abeokuta.They can be reached at +2348096629914/+2347064379839

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Articles by Idris Katib