Journalist - radio/television
Literary & Communicators

Radio and television journalists report on news items. They respond to a story at very short notice and need to have the material ready by a deadline.

Work Activities

Radio and television journalists report on news and other items of interest. Ideas for news and features are found by monitoring other media and following up leads provided by specialist staff, local contacts and members of the public.

Journalists in local radio, in BBC and commercial broadcasting companies, gain a wide range of experience. They conduct and edit interviews; they also research and write bulletins and reports.

Journalists employed in national television and radio are either reporters, who go out and collect stories, or sub-editors (also known as writers), who write bulletins in the newsroom.

Writers work alongside technical and production staff. They organise maps, graphics, captions and scripts that accompany reporters' stories. However, these roles are now more blurred, due to advances in digital technology.

The programme editor decides which news items to cover and sends a reporter (sometimes accompanied by a technical and camera crew) to collect more information. Reporters assess the event to be covered, collect and present background information and interview key people.

Reports may be broadcast 'live', but if they are recorded, the reporter makes detailed notes to assist with editing. Reporters often work with the editor during the editing process.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills

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

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of radio and television journalists

Most radio/television journalists work for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 or Sky and may be employed as a permanent employee or on a short-term contract.

Opportunities occur for experienced radio/television journalists to work overseas as foreign correspondents.

Many radio and television journalists work on a freelance basis.

Qualifications

Entry routes and training

Many entrants have previous journalism experience, eg, from a college newspaper or hospital radio, or from working in newspaper or online journalism.

Most new entrants are graduates, some have also completed a postgraduate broadcast journalism course.

Undergraduate degrees in journalism, some of which specialise in broadcast journalism, are available. There is also a one-year, pre-entry course in broadcast journalism, offered by several universities and colleges. Contact the Broadcast Journalism Training Council for a list of their accredited courses.

Alternatively, prospective broadcast journalists can apply to the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 or other companies, for a place on their in-house training schemes. These training schemes cover all aspects of radio and television journalism.

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