Political journalism probably existed since the first person ever took office. Someone probably ran through town, telling everyone what the governing body was doing. 


Since then, most people wanted to stay informed on the comings and goings of the people in charge, and a select few have a true passion for uncovering and sharing those stories. 


There are 65 different countries having elections in 2024. Everyone from the United States of America to the United Kingdom to South Africa are going to the polls. That means politics is on everyone's mind, and political reporters are taking the stage


But what is the true role of political journalists, and are there any rules they must follow? 


Alrika Möller from media update is uncovering the realities of political journalism. 


What is the purpose of political journalism? 

Political journalism involves the gathering of information and news about the government, elections and all things politics. 


They then take the information they have, analyse it by digging a little deeper and connect different pieces of information to form a story. This story — which we can only hope is the whole storygets reported through print, broadcast, or whatever medium the journalist uses. 


The reason behind this unending search for information is to keep the public informed in an objective and unbiased manner. People deserve to know about the decisions and actions of the people in positions of power governing their country.


Political journalists have a responsibility to report the truth to the public. 


How do you become a political journalist? 

Becoming a political journalist is a lot like becoming a doctor with a specialty. Doctors go to medical school. Once they graduate, they start working as a doctor and then they decide on a speciality after getting experience in numerous fields. 


Journalists study journalism. Once they have the degree in hand, they start working as a journalist for a:
  • publication
  • broadcast station, or
  • news outlet.
After getting experience in different types of news and journalism, they can then decide if they have an interest in reporting on politics.


Then it is just a case of working your way up to where you want to be. In the world of journalism, information is key, and when information is not widely available — because it is politicsyou need sources that can provide you with information. 


To be a successful political reporter, you need to be relentless in your pursuit of the truth, and you have to gather as many connections as possible. 


It's true that journalists for bigger news outlets such as CNN, BBC and ENCA often have a team of people that hunt down the information on their behalf. Regardless of who is gathering the information, the journalist is the one reporting it to the public. How they do that is incredibly important. 


What are the ethics of political journalism? 

In many ways, the ethics behind political journalism are the same as the ethics of any other form of journalism. 


Political reporters must report the truth. It is not journalism when half of the story is fiction. Journalists have a duty to fact-check every piece of information they have before sending it out into the world. 


While all journalists must remain objective, political reporters have an even bigger obligation when it comes to biases. Whenever they are reporting on a scandal, party, or specific politician, it is crucial that they leave their own political opinions and affiliations at the door


It is extremely easy to tell when a writer is not being objective. When journalists are not objective, we cannot trust the information they are providing. 


Political journalism has an important role to play when it comes to keeping the public informed — especially during an election year — but it is not for the faint of heart.  


With politics being such a big part of 2024, are there any political journalism questions you want us to investigate? Let us know in the comment section below. 

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We cannot downplay the importance of ethical standards in journalism. Check out this guide to Ethics in freelance journalism

*Image courtesy of Canva