Journalist
Literary & Communicators

Journalists write and assemble together news stories that will interest their audience. By gathering together a number of different sources and ensuring that all the arguments are represented, they keep their audience abreast of events in their world.

Work Activities

The job typically involves:

 

  • reading press releases
  • researching articles
  • establishing and maintaining contacts
  • interviewing sources
  • writing, editing, and submitting copy
  • attending events
  • proofreading
  • verifying statements and facts
  • staying up to date with privacy, contempt and defamation law
  • liaising with editors, sub-editors, designers and photographers.

Promotional prospects are good, with structured career paths and the possibility of transferring between television, radio, newspaper and publishing work.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for journalists

  • Enthusiasm
  • Stamina
  • Determination
  • Confidence
  • Perseverance
  • Excellent oral or written skills
  • Interpersonal skills

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of journalists

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Newswires
  • Websites
  • Radio stations
  • Television companies
  • Periodical publishers

Many journalists work freelance. However, to do so you will need a network of industry contacts, the ability to propose strong pitches and a reputation for reliability.

Vacancies are advertised online, in Campaign, Press Gazette, Broadcast and The Bookseller. Many jobs receive little advertising, so networking, internships and speculative applications (including samples of published work) are advisable. Use The Writers' & Artists' Yearbook to find contact details and other information about a wide range of newspapers and magazines.

Some employers, including periodical publishers, the BBC and ITV, operate graduate trainee schemes – early applications for such schemes are advisable.

Qualifications

Qualifications and training required

Although there are routes into journalism for both university graduates and school leavers, some organisations and newspapers now ask for a degree. While any subject is acceptable, English or journalism are preferred. Specialist subjects such as economics, languages or sciences can be a great advantage.

Most jobs require a qualification accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ). Some universities offer masters degrees or postgraduate diplomas in journalism that are accredited by the NCTJ.

Relevant work experience is also essential and can be gained through published articles, freelance work, writing competitions or voluntary work.

A full, clean driving licence is often a requirement.

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