How to Become a Foreign Correspondent as a US Citizen
The term foreign correspondence has become an overwhelming occupation just by the second half of the nineteenth century, in support of an increasing need of the European and US newspapers to cover both military and civilian development. A foreign news correspondent is a journalist who is responsible for reporting news from another country. This may mean covering anything from wars to politics to living conditions and attitudes in this country.
Foreign correspondents are the public’s eyes and ears across the globe. Unlike other journalists, the correspondent’s audience is often not near enough to witness the events for themselves. Correspondents may be the public’s only source of information about the events in a foreign country. Foreign correspondence is a challenging career with a potential for travel, excitement, and a lot of hard work. For years now, foreign correspondents has become elites among news professionals.
Being a foreign correspondent would require a lot of stamina to stand firm as it takes a different turn from the usual journalism one could be conversant with. It takes dedication, interest, passion, and time. If being an illumination to the world inspires you, there are some crucial steps to becoming successful in the exciting but competitive profession and they are as follow;
1. Obtain the Right Education
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It is required that a US citizen prioritizing to become a foreign correspondence is to have a Bachelor of Art in international studies from an accredited institution to provide a solid foundation for understanding the challenges of other regions and cultural ideologies. International study programs will allow you to specialize in a particular area of interest such as a region of the world, certain language, or culture. It also focuses on a specific topic, like global economics or politics. International studies will help you become a better foreign correspondent and also shape your communication skills.
2. Travel Experience
Aspiring to be a foreign correspondence, needs one to show that they have experienced living and working abroad-if not the country you want to report on but other countries outside of your own.
3. Good language and listening skills
Language skills are a must-have because you need to be an effective communicator when talking with locals to get stories right. You can’t expect to have access to a translator all the time and it is the responsibility of the journalist not to misinterpret stories of people who speak to them. A great story depends on how you listen to the people and pick up on nuance.
A good journalist should be able to convince people what their stories can be used for and how it could be used, a correspondent should be able to have skills that bring out more story from the locals, so learning few words of a local language can make great impact and difference, that’s what you should do when you’re in someone’s country.
4. Writing skills
Since foreign correspondence spends much time in writing as they do in listening to stories, you have to be comfortable with writing, mastering your pen, paper, and diary, you have to be an expert in words both print and digital media. Editors would find it more interesting to edit stories that are full and overwhelmed rather than cut short, leaving a paragraph and portraying the wrong image to a story, leaving the readers perplexed.
It is the work of correspondence to reach out to international audiences through their work through coverage of many areas that can barely be trampled upon- it requires a hell of determination. People like Chika Oudah who became an international figure in journalism rose to limelight through determination after she uncovered the stories of the chibok schoolgirls in Nigeria creating an international pressure to return the girls back to their homes.
6. Get some local journalism experience
Before going into the world of becoming a foreign correspondence, it is important to enjoy a journalism career. Work on your local newspaper to build up a few bylines, an intern for a local television or radio news outlet. By this, the correspondent gets to know what actual undercover journalism would be, how the people get to share their stories, and how journalism creates a story from the words of the populace. One can also start as a freelancer living in a foreign country and telling their stories to multiple news outlets on articles. Working as a freelancer can be a great way to a professional experience of foreign journalism or correspondent.
7. Working Condition
Foreign correspondents work in all kinds of climates. They have to travel frequently, and they need to meet U.S. deadlines even when working in a different time zone. Reporting is cumbersome, and correspondents need to keep up with long, irresistible and irregular work timetables. Those who found themselves working in large publications or stations usually work from day to late night in order send news across to morning and evening broadcasts and papers. Foreign correspondents are often under big pressure and may be in risk and dangerous situations, when working to cover sensational events of international figures. However, the work itself is considered to be rewarding and satisfying by most outstanding foreign correspondents.
8. Establishing a Secured connection
Networking is important in any field and it’s especially important in communications-focused fields like journalism that rely on strong professional networks. The best way to approach networking is by reaching out to reporters and editors you admire and asking them to set up a time to chat (either on the phone or in person). Once you get in contact with them, relate to them a bit about your previous experience and professional objectives and ask them for any advice that can help you in the long run.
9. Bear the competition
This is a competitive field. Period. It’s competitive to get a job, especially now that there are fewer of them. It’s competitive to keep the job you have and much more so to move up. Its performance based. On Television and other media, you just need to get more ratings and major gets. In print, you need large ideas, fantastic relationships and strong writing. Online, you need to create traffic, media audience to compel your works. You need to tell stories that bleed ideas and execute them well. It’s hard to sustain, but it’s actually possible.
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