Journalism is an exciting, challenging and competitive industry in which to work. No one day is the same as the next. Journalists know the news before anyone else and they have reports filmed and stories written before most people are even aware of the event. Journalism in the 21st century is fast changing and full of opportunity. New technology and new publishing platforms mean more people read news reports than ever before, and those reports are sourced, written and broadcast at faster speed than ever before. Once magazines and newspapers had daily, weekly and monthly deadlines; now every moment is a deadline for publishing on the web. All journalists now need to know how to work across all publishing platforms, in print, online and broadcast. In the course of one day a multimedia journalist can be expected to write a blog, film a short video piece for web publication and file an in-depth, 500-word report for print. Versatility is essential.
There are around 60,000 journalists in the UK. More than half of the UK’s journalists are employed in London and the South East. Journalists working outside London are much more likely to work in regional and local newspapers. Those working in London are more likely to work for international media organisations, national newspapers, business magazines, on-line or for a news agency. The North West has a higher proportion of journalists working in radio (both national and regional/local) and national TV.
Eighty-three per cent of new entrants did a period of work experience or an internship before gaining their first paid job. [Source: National Council for the Training of Journalists].
Journalists can be hired or freelance.
Journalism attributes/skills profile
|Key attributes/skills needed for the role ||Where you could develop these skills or attributes|
|Very confident and articulate communication skills
||This is most likely to be developed and evidenced through your academic studies and work experience.
|Ability to research topics quickly and effectively with meticulous attention to facts and details
|Ability to manage time and work well under pressure
CAPOD regularly runs courses covering these skills within its Professional Skills Curriculum.
Taking on positions of responsibility in student-run societies based on your areas of interest such as The Foreign Affairs Society or The European Society, will give you the chance to put them into practice and network to build up your contacts.
|Good team-working, organisational and project management skills.
|Self-motivation, drive, determination and a passion for exposing stories and delivering information to the public
|Ability to develop and nurture a diverse range of contacts and a keen desire to produce original journalism, driven by a strong sense of curiosity
|A genuine passion for and knowledge of news and current affairs
|Evidence of your writing ability
||If you have published material online or in print this will give you a head start when impressing future employers. Develop your online presence through LinkedIn, Twitter, setting up your own website to use as a portfolio or blogging. Experience working with The Saint, The Sinner, The Stand or The Tribe will demonstrate these skills.
|Ability to stay calm while working under pressure and to remain resilient, flexible and adaptable in the face of rapidly changing circumstances, long shifts and setbacks
|Ability to tell stories fairly, accurately, simply and engagingly, in a way that is accessible to a wide variety of audiences across a range of platforms
Other key attributes/skills demanded for the role: do you possess them?
- A tough character – ability to handle criticism and constructively build on it and the confidence to pitch to senior editors.
- Ability to draw on creative writing and storytelling skills.
- Have knowledge and awareness of producing cross platform content and developing ideas
Nature of sector or roles
Common journalism career opportunities include jobs for reporters, writers and editors. These professionals often fill more than one role depending on the size of the publication. As an independent journalist, a person may also come up with other ways of presenting news items to an audience, such as through social media, video, or interactive materials.
Finding your niche with so many choices in journalism can seem daunting, particularly with the vast number of online magazines and newspapers. You may want to focus on a particular area such as education, fashion journalism, sports or financial journalism. However, it’s worth broadly considering the type of journalism you want to aim for:
- Broadcast journalist Broadcast journalists research, investigate and present news and current affairs for television, radio and the internet. Their aim is to present information in a fair, balanced and accurate way through news bulletins, documentaries and other factual programmes.
- Magazine Journalist Magazine journalists research and write news articles and features for a wide variety of publications (usually periodicals)
- Magazine features editor A magazine features editor is responsible for the content and quality of their publication and ensures that stories are engaging and informative.
- Newspaper journalist Newspaper journalists research and write stories for national, regional and local press. As well as news and politics, they report on sports, arts and culture, science and business. They also cover national and local events, entertainment and human interest stories.
- Press sub-editor Press sub-editors, or subs, check the written text of newspapers, magazines or websites before it is published. They are responsible for ensuring the correct grammar, spelling, house style and tone of the published work.
- Freelance journalist freelance journalists do not work for only one publication, they are self-employed. Freelance and portfolio careers have become increasingly common, although they usually follow a considerable period as a staff journalist, building up experience and contacts.
Typical employers of journalists include:
- Radio stations
- Television companies
- Periodicals publishers
Networks - why and how to use them
Networking is particularly important and can help you succeed with your applications. If you have been in contact with someone working for the organisation then you have extra information to back up your case for why they should employ you. Use social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook (many organisations have their own page) to connect with organisations. Recent St Andrews graduates have gone on to work for BBC Scotland and The Huffington Post. Alumni can make extremely useful contacts, giving you an "edge" with your applications and interviews. There are several ways to make contact with alumni.
- Saint Connect - The Careers Alumni Network for St Andrews where you can make contact with alumni, get industry news, participate in discussions, and search jobs. Find out how to use Saint Connect by viewing the 'Video Tour' (bottom right-hand side of Saint Connect screen).
- Organisations at which alumni are currently working in Journalism who are happy to offer advice: Managing Editor MSN Homepage - Microsoft, Editorial Assistant - Bedford/St Martin's.
- Groups - Journalism - by joining this group you will receive updates on events, competitions, jobs and other sector related news.
- LinkedIn – Alumni Tool - this feature shows the career paths of 30,000+ St Andrews Alumni. By using the search field, you can find alumni working in a particular organisation eg Thomson Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The Guardian. Watch the YouTube video on how to use this resource.
- Graduate recruiters - ask if they can put you in touch with any alumni now working for their company.
- Friends and family - ask around your immediate social network for any contacts in the organisations which interest you.
- This networking video produced by Cass Business School gives excellent tips on effective networking.
How to gain experience/internships
Relevant work experience is essential for a career in journalism. Potential employers will definitely expect to see evidence on your application that you have undertaken work experience. Additionally, some postgraduate courses in journalism will only grant places to those who have had some work experience placements.
Many opportunities will not be advertised, so it’s crucial that you are proactive and make speculative applications to find opportunities.
There are many ways to improve your skills and increase your chances of getting a journalism job - here are a few ideas to get you started:
|Opportunity / organisation||Details|
|Opportunities in St Andrews
||Get involved in student media at St Andrews - write for student publications (eg The Saint, the Sinner, The Stand, The Tribe) or contact STAR - St Andrews Radio
|Digital Political Journals
||Your Middle East and Global Politics actively welcome contributions from St Andrews students: the editorial team have St Andrews connections.
||Offers work experience placements across the group, including journalism. They also offer fully paid internships (£300 a week) across the group.
- Offers a limited number of short editorial experience opportunities throughout the year to those dedicated to a career in journalism. These placements at the Guardian and Observer are unpaid, voluntary and range in duration from a few days to a maximum of two weeks. Priority is given to students from the GMG Scott Trust Bursary Scheme, the Positive Action Scheme, and winners of the Guardian Student Media Awards.
- The Guardian also hosts regular Insight into Journalism days for those who are exploring whether to pursue a career in this field.
||The BBC offers a variety of placements (including journalism) across various locations in the UK.
||Offers a wide variety of internships and work experience.
||Offers global journalism internships.
||Offers placements across a variety of departments. For queries about work experience email: HR@mgn.co.uk
||provides paid, full-time internship opportunities in the creative industries for talented young people from under-represented black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
|The Sports Journalists' Association
||Lists a number of newspapers and magazines which offer relevant work experience.
Darrow offers a spectrum of intelligent analysis on the arts, politics and more. If you have an idea for an article and would like to write for Darrow complete the registration form.
|Bolivia Unlimited (formerly Bolivian Express)
An organisation founded by Oxford graduates in 2010 and Bolivian journalists - based out of La Paz, Bolivia, in South America. We are dedicated to promoting journalism, intercultural exchange, and Bolivian culture to the English-speaking world. We run 1-3 month internship programmes in journalism, documentary production or Spanish, designed for students interested in learning Spanish and getting an insight into the world of print or video journalism. NB these positions are unpaid and the programmes incur a cost.
- Follow Twitter and Facebook pages of organisations you're interested in. Often these may be the only place they advertise work experience opportunities.
- Pick a specific theme on a topic that interests you and write a regular blog.
Making speculative applications
Work experience or work shadowing may not be easy to get but is invaluable - even if it's for a short time. Remember that many opportunities will not be advertised, so don't underestimate the value of making speculative applications.
Here are a few tips to help you in your search:
- Seek out experience on newspapers, magazines, websites or in the broadcast media during vacations. Ask to come in and observe for a few days or to work shadow. Explain briefly why you want the experience and why you want to be a journalist. Don't be put off if you don't get a response - the key is persistence and perseverance so be sure to follow up any speculative applications you send. Magazine Subscriptions lists over 1,000 magazines.
- Media.info has online directories of radio stations, TV channels and newspapers and magazines in the UK.
- Most editors look for evidence of sustained interest in and commitment to journalism. Offering articles to local or free newspapers is one way in which you can build up your cuttings file - any employer is going to want to see what you have already had published. Think of ideas for new stories or new angles on familiar stories. Test them out by submitting copy.
Job search websites
The following websites include listings of relevant internship opportunities:
How to get a (graduate) job
Entry routes in to journalism
Entry requirements can sometimes differ slightly (depending on which area of journalism you are interested in), but in general entry paths to journalism can be direct entry or pre-entry. Direct entry is where you train on the job, for example with a local newspaper, and pre-entry is where you train at college or university.
Places on formal training schemes are limited and competition is very strong.
The Chartered Institute of Journalists has some good advice on routes into journalism
Make sure your CV is up-to-date, and, if, necessary, have it checked over by a careers adviser. Remember that many journalism jobs are never advertised, but are filled by speculative approaches from prospective journalists.
Print Journalism: Newspapers
Many would-be journalists aspire to work on a national paper although it is common to begin on a local or regional paper before moving to a national. Some nationals do offer trainee positions including:
Most national newspapers do not recruit annually nor publicise their schemes so your investigative skills will be required to track the openings down! Regional newspapers frequently have trainee journalist positions, although some require candidates to already hold a pre-entry NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) qualification. Find UK newspapers on The Paper Boy.
Print Journalism: Magazine Journalism
Consumer magazines occasionally advertise for trainee journalists with most publishers advertising in their own publications or websites, advertising in The Guardian, Press Gazette or just recruiting people who have undertaken (usually unpaid) work experience with them first. The specialist financial press recruit actively but often look for graduates in economics or politics. Some magazines and journals also look for writers with specialist knowledge, eg New Scientist. Specialist postgraduate courses exist in periodicals journalism.
Broadcasting Journalism: TV and Radio
Employers of broadcast journalists include:
Employers from the radio sector include BBC national and regional stations, as well as local and national commercial radio stations. For contact details, see the RadioCentre.
Press Agencies: journalism openings
Independent press agencies - also known as news wires - supply general interest or specialist news, features or pictures to news media. There are several leading press agencies, including Agence France Presse (based in Paris), Associated Press and United Press International (both based in the U.S.), Thomson Reuters and the British-based Press Association. See the National Association of Press Agencies for further details.
Job search websites
The following websites publicise vacancies in the journalism and media sectors:
Applications, interviews and assessment centres
According to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) In journalism, there is no "one size fits all" CV. It's all about what you can do, how to make yourself look interesting and why you are the right person for the job. It is, however, essential that you make sure that your spelling and grammar in both a CV and covering letter are perfect. Have them looked over by a careers adviser before sending them in.
Keep up-to-date with the industry and current affairs - you may be asked for your opinions on these at an interview.
The following websites offer some good advice and guidance on writing CVs and covering letter and attending interviews:
Relevant Postgraduate Study
There is a wide range of postgraduate courses available which cover many areas of journalism, including newspapers, broadcast journalism, on-line and sport. Journograds has compiled a helpful list of journalism master’s degrees that are available throughout the UK, along with their most recent cost information. Although the list is not exhaustive it’s a useful place to start before doing further research.
If you are interested in taking a course - contact the institution or try to visit before making an application. Assess what you may gain from such a course before committing yourself to considerable expense and ask questions about how successful these courses have been in gaining jobs for their past students.
Check to see that those courses you are considering are recognised by the relevant training bodies. See the National Council for the Training of Journalists or Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC) websites for a list of accredited degrees and postgraduate courses. You should check with colleges or universities for exact entry requirements.
People in the industry have sharply opposing views on the value of further study – while some view it as a very useful experience, others don’t. It is useful to talk to any contacts you know (or get to know) in the industry and seek their views.
|For further information on researching and planning for a postgraduate qualification, please visit the postgraduate study page.
Key UK links and resources
Careers Centre resources
Use CareerConnect, your central careers hub, to:
- Book an appointment with a careers adviser
- Search for vacancies (Job Shop, internships/work experience, graduate jobs)
- Register for events
- The Careers Centre subscribes to GoinGlobal, a specialist website with information and job vacancies worldwide.
- So you want to be a political journalist?
- Contacts 2014- Stage, TV, Film & Radio
- Writers & Artists' Yearbook
- Careers in Media and Film: The Essential Guide
General journalism/media careers information
Professional Bodies, Trade Organisations & Journals/Magazines
The USA job market and recruitment timetables, for both internships and graduate jobs, for sectors of employment often differ from the UK.
The Careers Centre subscribes to the reputable independent USA careers information and vacancy provider Vault. The link below will take you directly to Vault subscription resources which cover this sector. You may find further useful and relevant resources linked from there as well.
- The Media Internship book - published by Internships, USA, this online resource lists over two hundred organizations including newspapers, television stations, magazines which offer internships for students. Access via Subscriptions (password required).
Internships in the US - journalism
This list is by no means exhaustive. It is simply designed to serve as a starting point.
- ABC News Internship Program is open to undergraduate students who are currently enrolled in school and have completed their sophomore year. Graduate students are also eligible for consideration. Interns must be currently earning a college/university degree in related field and have an interest in broadcast news with prior internship or classroom experience in journalism or broadcast production. Paid opportunity in fall, spring and summer.
- Cultural Vistas - Alfa Fellowship Program is a paid professional development program placing accomplished 25-35 years old professionals in work assignments at leading organizations in Russia in the fields of business, economics, journalism, law, public policy and related areas. The program accepts up to 15 American and British citizens per year. Russian proficiency is preferred. Requires at least two years of relevant work experience; candidates without a graduate degree must demonstrate extensive and equivalent professional experience in their field, approximately six years, in order to qualify. Fellows receive a monthly stipend, language training, program-related travel costs, housing and insurance.
- Alfred Friendly Press Fellowships are six month professional fellowships offered once a year to professional journalists from developing countries and emerging markets. Fellows work full time at U.S. host news organizations while developing their journalism skills.
- American Journalism Center offers internships in print journalism, broadcast journalism, public relations, and marketing to conservative college students during spring, summer and fall. Internships are flexible with regard to length of time and number of hours worked per week. While these positions do require some experience in their respective fields, applications are welcomed from students in any academic field.
- Institute for Humane Studies Internship Program places talented writers and communicators—who support individual liberty, free markets, and peace—at a newspaper, radio station, new media company, or non-profit, investigative newsroom for eight weeks during spring, summer, and fall. Previous journalism experience is a plus but not required. Open to undergraduates, graduate students, and recent graduates from all disciplines. Provides $3,200 stipend and an allowance for travel to internship.
- Kaiser Media Fellowships and Internships Program in Health Reporting provides selected journalists with unique opportunities to gain an in-depth grasp of U.S. health and health policy issues, through site visits, briefings and discussions with policy experts and fellow editors and reporters. The focus is squarely on State, national and global health policy issues, with the aim of encouraging and informing coverage of the complex economic, political and medical issues involved for a broad range of audiences.
- The Association of Magazine Media - Magazine Internships provides interns with a quality learning environment in order to acquire and develop the necessary skills needed for job placement and advancement in the magazine publishing industry. A ten-week paid program for rising college seniors at magazines in New York and Washington.
- Middlebury Fellowships in Environmental Journalism each year the program helps 10 fellows work through an ambitious reporting project in print, web-based, or radio journalism, from the beginning through publication or broadcast. Fellows meet together twice during the year, once in the fall on the Middlebury campus in Vermont, and once in the spring at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California where professional journalists help participants plan their reporting and shape their stories. Graduate fellows each receive $10,000 to help with reporting and living expenses during the fellowship year.
- The Nation's Health Interns serve as reporters and assist with many facets of news gathering, writing and production. Duties can include writing news stories for the monthly print issue of the newspaper or for its Web version, developing story ideas and attending press conferences and congressional hearings. Interns also work within APHA’s Communications Department, assisting with news releases, news tracking and other public relations work, as well as with APHA's social media tools. Experience with deadlines, Associated Press/journalism style is a plus. Opportunities for internships are available year-round and last for a 3-4 month period.
- NBC offers internships in all areas such as journalism, marketing, advertising, production, and sales. Gives students real world experience, networking opportunities, and exposure to one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies.
- The New York Times Internship and full-time opportunities at The New York Times for college student currently pursuing a Bachelor's or Master's degree with a passion for programming, an interest in media and/or you simply want to make an impact on society. Search student opportunities for current opportunities (including social media internship).
- NPR Internship positions are offered at their national headquarters in Washington, D.C.; NPR West in Culver City, CA; at the New York and Chicago Bureaus; and in Boston, MA. Open to undergraduates, postgraduates, and recent graduates.
- Public Broadcasting System (PBS) offers employment opportunities in a variety of disciplines including communications, creative services, programming, interactive services, information technology, development, engineering, accounting and many other areas. All positions are at PBS headquarters in the Washington, D.C. area unless otherwise noted.
- Pulliam Journalism Fellowship For college students and new graduates with a talent for reporting, news design and graphics, or photojournalism. College juniors, seniors and graduate students enrolled in a journalism or related degree program are eligible. Previous newspaper journalism internships and/or experience as a journalist on a college newspaper are preferred. Fellows earn $650/week for the 10-week program.
- Dow Jones News Fund Summer Internship Programs offers four summer internship programs, in partnership with a variety of media companies, to college juniors, seniors and graduate students interested in pursuing journalism careers. Students returning to school after their internships are eligible for $1,000 scholarships.
- Robert L. Bartley Fellowship Program Fellows will assist in researching and writing editorials, editing op-ed articles, editing Leisure & Arts page features, and editing letters to the editor for the Journal and their Web site, OpinionJournal.com. The fellowships, consisting of paid internships, will be provided to young thinkers and writers whose views are broadly consistent with Bob Bartley's philosophy and who aspire to careers in journalism. Applicants should be beginning journalists, upperclassmen or graduate students with reporting and writing backgrounds at their school newspapers or elsewhere. It is essential that they be familiar with, and interested in, the ideas for which the Journal editorial page stands.
- Rodale offers internship opportunities in editorial, design, advertising, marketing, online, public relations, and beyond based in its Emmaus, PA, headquarters and its New York City office. The ideal candidate will have a strong academic record and previous intern experience and will be a sophomore, junior or senior at an accredited college or university.
- Scripps Howard Semester in Washington Two international students will be recruited to cover events in the U.S. capital, as well as to report and write feature stories for the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire. Open to undergraduate journalism or communications students who intend to pursue careers in journalism after graduation. Available in January to April or September to December.
- Tim Russert Fellowship in Political Journalism A one-year, paid position in the NBC News Washington, D.C. bureau. Awarded to one motivated, passionate graduating senior interested in pursuing a career in political journalism and have a Bachelor's degree in journalism, communications or political science. Responsibilities will include assisting talent and producers, participating in news shoots, and story research.
- The Washington Post offers 12-week paid internships for reporters on the Local, Financial, Sports, Style and Editorial desks, as well as internships for Visual Journalists, Multiplatform and Interactivity Producers and Web Designers.
- Washingtonian offers internships in Editorial, Print Advertising and Design to college students and recent graduates.