What Is Legal Journalism?
‘Legal Journalism’ is an amalgamation of a career in journalism and law. It requires knowledge of the law as well as the skills of journalism. It is not a conventional or customary choice of employment for law graduates. However, legal journalism is gaining reasonable traction as a career option nowadays. Although it is a relatively new concept, it is getting popular over time. Such career choices break the convention that a law graduate can only make a career in litigation, as a judge, or work in a law firm, or other corporate legal jobs.
Legal Journalism focuses majorly on reportage based on legal or political topics and issues. Its sole purpose is to keep the audience updated and aware of legal matters. Legal updates can be posted on various media platforms like newspapers, news channels, blogging, and videos on social media platforms among others. It is a unique niche in journalism to spread legal knowledge and issues. Journalism in this aspect is only concerned with law and other statutory provisions, as well as social and political impact arising from the same.
Eligibility To Become A Legal Journalist
There are certain requisite educational requirements to pursue a career in legal journalism:-
The individual must have a mandatory and valid degree in law.
The individual who wants to pursue a career in legal journalism must have a law degree such as LLB (Legum Baccalaureus) or LLM (Legum Magister) affiliated with the BCI (Bar Council of India) and approved by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
The individual doesn't need to have a degree in Journalism. However, a diploma or similar certificate courses may prove to be helpful while pursuing the profession of a legal journalist.
The individual should have superior oratory skills and a flair for writing. Communication skills are one of the major requirements for a career in journalism.
The individual should be fluent in the language of his/her choice.
The individual may have some experience through an internship in the area of legal journalism.
Role Of A Legal Journalist
An individual pursuing a career in legal journalism must perform certain necessary roles and tasks to become a successful professional legal journalist.
Any legal journalist must do proper research work in the field of law and gather required facts and statistics on the concerned topics.
A legal journalist through his communication and oratory skills must be able to convey to the general public important legal information.
A legal journalist may write legal blogs on the internet or write articles about law and related matters in newspapers.
A legal journalist may post videos on social media platforms based on various legal aspects.
The legal journalist should have the diverse legal knowledge and required skills a journalist.
Like any other journalist, a legal reporter is under an ethical obligation to report the facts in an objective and unbiased manner, showing both sides of the opinion spectrum without emphasising either. Needless to say, the nature of this work is largely contrary to the usual work of a lawyer wherein he or she represents a client and is responsible for his or her client’s interests. In the latter, being subjective becomes part and parcel of one’s duty towards his or her client.
Scope And Types Of Legal Journalism
The scope of Legal journalism is broadening with time and there are various fields through which an individual can make a profession out of law and journalism. Legal Journalism is gaining popularity with time. Some of the major types of legal journalists include-
This is similar to a news reporter, the only difference stands that a legal news reporter will report news about the area of law such as following major legal trials in the courtrooms, reporting changes in statutory provisions in the Parliament or reportage of enactment of new laws and Acts.
Through writing legal articles and reporting legal news in daily newspapers or magazines a legal journalist can make a career in legal journalism. For this, an individual must have impeccable writing skills and command of the concerned language. In recent times, organisations like Bar and Bench, SCC, and Livelaw have brought forth new dimensions in the scope and extent of legal journalism.
Internet blogging is similar to writing articles in a newspaper. Instead on a paper the article or blog is published on the internet for people to access. Such blogs can be informative, commentaries on case laws, or case reviews. Various papers are published on the internet related to legal topics. Publishing papers or writing blogs requires good knowledge of law or research skills. The writer should have a flair for writing and comprehension.
- Posting Videos on Social Media Platforms-
Posting videos and vlogging has become popular mechanism for consuming information in modern times. Legal journalism can be practised through posting informative videos associated with legal concepts on social media platforms such as Youtube, Instagram, or Facebook among others. Individuals can independently start online channels or pages to convey legal news and information. Legal Journalists can make documentaries on case laws and changes in the legal systems on these platforms.
Internship Opportunities For Legal Journalism
In the last decade or so, several legal media outlets have flourished, owing to the wide consumption of legal news, media, and related content. A student looking to learn and apply the nuances in this profession may apply for short-term (4 weeks) or long-term (>4 weeks) internships at any such organisation. Some of these are:
Live Law is a comprehensive legal news portal that is committed to providing accurate and honest news about legal developments. It is currently India’s leading legal news portal.
You may mail your internship application to the Chief Editor- [email protected].
Bar & Bench is another leading legal news portal that regularly publishes the latest updates from the legal industry.
For an internship at Bar & Bench, references will be given to candidates with some or all of the following skills- Data journalism and visualisation; Social media engagement; Editing; Qualified candidates will be paid a stipend. The internship will be at our office in Bengaluru. Do send your resume and a writing sample of no longer than 500 words (Both are MANDATORY) to [email protected], with the subject title: 'INTERNSHIP".
Interning at these organisations is likely to give the candidate first-hand exposure to how legal media outlets work, how assignments are given, how to do the work efficiently, what are stages the content goes through before being published, and so on. The experience gained from such internships is usually invaluable for the later stages of one’s career.
Benefits Of Being A Legal Journalist
It is a relatively new career option and consequently has a higher scope of evolution compared to other conventional legal jobs.
It has a better chance of creative growth as well as a vast area to acquire knowledge
It is a unique concept in the field of law and has a growth rate of around 4 per cent in the coming decade.
It is a better and easier way to convey legal awareness among the general public.
Drawback Of Legal Journalism
It is a relatively new concept therefore it may take some time to grow as a career option.
It might not be a very high-paying job as other traditional legal occupations.
It can be an exhausting choice of employment as it requires the skill of both a lawyer as well as a journalist.
Remuneration Of A Legal Journalist
The income and pay scale is often primary consideration when it comes to determining a career choice. Many factors determine the salary of a legal journalist. Some deciding factors include the candidate’s qualification, his/her working experience, the city in which he/she is working, the kind of industry in which he/she is hired, etc. A legal journalist cannot always expect a posh salary like lawyers who are working in firms. But also will be an injustice to mention that once you acquire the appropriate skill to be a legal journalist, there will be no earning limit. The pay scales ultimately depend upon the employing organizations. The advice is to hence follow your heart and work with ample passion towards the chosen profession, success is bound to follow your way. A legal journalist’s salary is on similar lines to that of a journalist. On average, the beginner-level salary of a legal journalist working in a Tier 1 city is in the range of 4-5 Lakh rupees per annum.
In the table below, we have covered the overall remuneration of a legal journalist in more detail:
Average Annual Salary At A Glance:
|In Government Organisation
||INR 4-5 LPA
|In Private Organisation
||INR 7-8 LPA
Experience Wise Salary At A Glance:
|0-2 Years Of Experience
|| INR 4-5 LPA
|3-5 Years Of Experience
||INR 8-9 LPA
|More Than 10 Years Of Experience
||INR 15 LPA
Legal Journalism is a profession that requires a various set of skills like public speaking, analytical creativity, writing genius, media production knowledge, logical thinking, critical thinking, decision making, research expertise, and knowledge of law among others. It is mandatory to have a law degree for legal journalism as it is wholly based on reportage or publication in the arena of law. A diploma or certificate course in Journalism may prove to be helpful but is not made obligatory as law in itself makes a person gain oratory, analytical, good writing, and communication skills. Legal journalism is a budding line of work and may gain acceptance with time. Social media is currently witnessing uncanny growth with changing times this can prove to help promote legal journalism.
LegalBots wishes you all the best!