Journalist (JO): Navy Enlisted Rating Description

The U.S. Navy offers a wide range of job positions and opportunities, many of which mirror those that are available in the civilian world. The JO or journalist rating was one such position, but it no longer exists. It was merged into the new Mass Communications Specialist (MC) rating in July 2006. The job description is maintained here for historical purposes only.

General Information 

Navy journalists were information specialists. They gathered news about people, places, and activities in the Navy and communicated it to the military and to civilian communities through radio, television, military publications, and hometown newspapers. They served as reporters and editors and often worked with civilian reporters and photographers as well.

JOs worked in print and broadcast media with public affairs officers and as independent journalists arranging public displays, exhibits, demonstrations, speaking engagements, news conferences, VIP visits, and ship- and shore-based tours. This was a five-year enlistment program.

What JOs Did

The duties performed by JOs included gathering facts and writing articles for publication in civilian and Navy communities, as well as preparing stories for hometown news outlets. The position involved writing feature articles on naval personnel and activities, and writing, editing and proofreading news for radio and TV outlets.

JOs prepared layouts for base papers and magazines, managed radio and television stations, managed ship or station newspapers, wrote and produced radio and television programs, set up and conducted tape-recorded interviews, edited video and audio tape for TV and radio broadcasts, wrote spot announcements for radio and TV, took news photographs, coordinated special events, advised and trained apprentices in the JO rating, and performed many of the functions of a public affairs officer, maintaining public affairs and research files.

Job Requirements

An ASVAB score of VE plus AR of 109 was required for this position. Applicants were also required to have a secret security clearance. It was a 60-month obligation. Applicants were required to be U.S. citizens.

Additionally, it was required that applicants have high school diplomas or the equivalent and that they be able to type 20 words per minute at the time they were enlisted.

Technical Training Information

Enlistees were taught the fundamentals of this rating through formal Department of Defense schooling and on-the-job training. Advanced technical training was available in this rating during the later stages of career development. Training included: 

  •  Fort Meade, Maryland—158 calendar days
  •  Fort Meade, Maryland—73 calendar days

On-the-job training included newspaper journalism, radio, TV broadcast skills group instruction, and individual assignments. Phase II involved news reporting, video photography, videotape editing, and production, as well as TV reporting and production skills group instruction and individual assignments. Applicants were also trained in Phase III Shipboard Information Training and Entertainment Systems, called SITE. Most journalists' first assignments were to ship or overseas Navy broadcast stations.

Work Environment 

JOs typically spent 40 percent of their time assigned to ships at sea and 60 percent to shore stations in the United States or overseas. Navy journalists did most of their work alone, with little supervision. Their work was primarily mental.