Approximately 30% of journalists are freelance. The remainder are employed by newspapers, publishing houses, broadcasting companies and periodicals publishers.
The work typically involves:
- creating and maintaining contacts
- attending relevant events and assignments
- reading and researching articles
- writing, editing, and submitting text
- verifying information
- liaison with other staff such as artists, photographers and presenters.
Promotional prospects are good, with structured career paths and the possibility of transferring between television, radio, newspaper and publishing work.
Although it is possible to become a journalist without a degree, most new recruits (over 70%) are graduates or postgraduates below the age of 30. Any subject is acceptable, although a postgraduate qualification accredited by the NCTJ or an English, media studies, economics or politics degree may be preferred.
Specialist knowledge or a scientific or technical background may be necessary for some vacancies. Relevant experience gained through published articles, freelance work, writing competitions, or voluntary work is essential. All candidates must have good general and current affairs knowledge and excellent oral/written communication and interpersonal skills.
Where to find out more
Vacancies are advertised online, in national newspapers, Media Week, Press Gazette, Campaign, Broadcast and The Bookseller. Candidates need enthusiasm, stamina, determination and perseverance as there is severe competition for course places/jobs - hundreds of applications may be received for each advertised position, and many more speculatively.
Some employers, including periodical publishers, the BBC and ITV, operate graduate trainee schemes - early applications for such schemes are advisable. Many jobs receive little advertising, so networking, job shadowing and speculative applications (including samples of written work) are advisable.