Magazine journalist: job description

Magazine journalist: job description

Magazine journalists research, write and edit stories, features and articles for use within a variety of media including magazines, journals and corporate publications.
They can work for particular publications, or they can work on a freelance basis for a variety of magazines.

What does a magazine journalist do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Typical responsibilities of the job include:

  • generating ideas for future stories and features that would interest the magazine's readers
  • reading and researching features and articles
  • verifying information and interviewing sources
  • writing, editing, proofreading, and subbing text
  • attending relevant events, fairs and conferences
  • creating and maintaining a network of contacts
  • meeting and liaising with other staff including designers, photographers, editors and subs
  • staying up-to-date with privacy, defamation and contempt law
  • complying with industry and ethical guidelines
  • generating ideas for future stories and features.

Typical employers of magazine journalists

  • Major commercial publishing houses (such as IPC Media or EMAP)
  • Smaller specialist publishers
  • In-house magazines for corporate customers
  • Consumer or specialist magazines

Vacancies are advertised via the internet, in the publication that is recruiting, in national newspapers, Press Gazette, Campaign, Broadcast, The Bookseller and their respective websites. Many jobs receive little advertising, so networking, job shadowing and speculative applications (including samples of written work) can be useful.

A significant number of magazine journalists are freelance. Directories such as Willings Press Guide and Benn's Media Directory may be useful for direct approaches to employers. A handful of employers operate graduate trainee schemes.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into a career in editorial for both school leavers and university graduates. However, entry into the profession without a degree is becoming less and less usual.

A qualification accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), or an English or media studies degree may be advantageous. Specialist knowledge or a scientific or technical background may be required for some vacancies. The NCTJ offers a qualification in magazine journalism that covers many of the fundamental skills required for the position.

Relevant experience gained via freelance work, articles in magazines, student newspapers, writing competitions or voluntary work is essential. The Professional Publishers Association Ltd (PPA) can provide details about organisations offering work experience opportunities.

It can be difficult to secure a position as a magazine journalist without relevant work experience. Although work experience placements and internships in this area are often unpaid, there are some paid opportunities or those where expenses are covered.

To find out how to get into a career in this area, visit the media section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

Key skills for magazine journalists

  • Enthusiasm
  • Determination and perseverence
  • Good general and current affairs knowledge
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • IT skills