Journalism for a very long time has been one of the most popular majors which students all over the country take on and since the dawn of the internet age there are more people who are looking to become writers and journalists than ever before. Jonathan Levin Philadelphia based journalist has been in the industry for over 20 years and throughout those years he has seen stark changes in the industry. Jonathan Levin specializes in writing about crime and legal cases, reporting on criminals and misfits, the state of the legal system, use of federal funds and the occasional expose thrown in for good measure. Given his rich experience in this industry we wanted to find out more about what you need in order to write about this aspect of society, be it online or in print media.
One of the most important attributes which you need if you are to write about the law and crimes, is a deep understanding of the legal system. In this regard you need to possess far more than journalistic qualities and you need to essentially have the skills of a journalist with the knowledge of an attorney. In order to write about cases with accuracy and confidence you need to understand the nuts and bolts of it in and without this you will struggle to be convincing in your writing, or in any speculation which you may make.
Much like in many other fields of journalism you must have a great amount of contacts if you want to get the best stories with the mots factual information. This is even more true when it comes to legal journalism as you will need to have the right kind of contacts who can give you up to date and accurate information. Jonathan Levin for example relies heavily on his network of contacts which can range from attorneys to legal clerks, police officers to prison wardens. Finding out information is not always easy within this field which is why the right contacts are so vitally important. Naturally you won’t arrive in this career with a list of contacts and so you need to gradually build them over time which means forming and maintaining strong relationships.
Writing about crime is far from easy and there will very often be stories which can be emotional to both investigate and to write about. In the main the stories will of course be about serving justice to people but within that there can be some awful stories and details which you may have to write about, that will certainly test your emotion and mental strength. This is something which Jonathan Levin concedes that he wasn’t prepared for when he started in the industry and over time he has had to form thick skin in order to be able to write about such cases in a professional manner, without letting them get to him.
These are just some of the things which you should be prepared for if you want a career in legal journalism.