Journalist: job description

Last updated: 29 Jan 2024, 17:09

Journalists research, write, edit and file news stories, features and articles. Their pieces are used on television and radio or within magazines, journals and newspapers, most of which will be both in print and online.

Journalist job description

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

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

The job typically involves:

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

It is possible to transfer between television, radio, newspaper and publishing work.

Who employs journalists?

  • Newspapers and their associated websites
  • Magazines
  • Newswires
  • Press agencies
  • 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.

Journalism graduate jobs 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 The Times , The Guardian and the BBC, operate graduate trainee schemes – early applications for such schemes are advisable.

How much do journalists earn?

According to the recruitment website Indeed, the average salary for a journalist in the UK is £32,316. However, there is a lot of variation. A reporter on a national newspaper might earn around £40,000 while on a regional newspaper or small consumer magazine this could be closer to £25,000. The BBC has fixed salary bands, depending on seniority. Their graduate schemes pay between £22,442 and £32,500.

What qualifications and training do you need to become a journalist?

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.

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

The BBC has trainee and graduate schemes for entrants without a formal journalism qualification. Students on journalism and related courses are eligible to join the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) as a student member. This can give you useful insights into the profession.

Relevant work experience is also essential and can be gained through published articles, freelance work, writing competitions or voluntary work. Experience on a university newspaper or magazine is valuable.

A full, clean driving licence is often a requirement.

Key skills for journalists

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

Next: search internships and graduate jobs

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

People reading this also searched for roles in these areas:

undefined background image

We've got you

Get the latest jobs, internships, careers advice, courses and graduate events based on what's important to you. Start connecting directly with top employers today.