Newspaper journalist

Alternative titles for this job include Reporter, press officer

Newspaper journalists investigate and write up stories for local, regional and national newspapers.

Average salary (a year)

£15,000 Starter

to

£50,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 39 variable

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays flexibly

How to become a Newspaper journalist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • specialist courses run by professional bodies

University

You can get into this career through a degree in journalism or English, or a postgraduate journalism qualification.

If you have a degree, you may be able to do an 18 to 22 week Fast Track NCTJ Diploma in Journalism course offered by National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree
  • a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course

More information

Apprenticeship

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

More information

Work

You could start as a trainee on a local or regional newspaper.

You'll need a minimum of five GCSE grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, or equivalent qualifications. Many recruits may have A levels or degree level qualifications.

Volunteering and experience

Opportunities are rare and you'll need to show you've got writing experience. It's a good idea to start building a portfolio of your published work to show to potential employers, especially if these include your name.

To build up your experience you can:

  • volunteer for student and community newspapers
  • submit articles to websites
  • keep an online journal or blog
  • have an online presence on sites such as Twitter
  • submit articles and reviews to local, free or specialist papers

Other routes

You could take a journalism qualification like those offered by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) like:

  • Certificate in Foundation Journalism
  • Level 3 Diploma Journalism

You can study towards some NCTJ qualifications by distance learning. To follow this route you would need to arrange work experience so that you can practise your skills.

More information

Career tips

There are a number of bursaries available to eligible journalism students. These include:

  • George Viner Memorial Trust Fund – awarded to broaden ethnic diversity in journalism
  • The Journalism Diversity Fund - for students from socially or ethnically diverse backgrounds
  • Scott Trust bursary – for postgraduate students

Further information

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has more careers information.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of English language
  • knowledge of media production and communication
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • excellent written communication skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • persistence and determination
  • Being able to use a computer terminal or hand-held device may be beneficial for this job.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • investigating a story as soon as it breaks
  • following up potential leads and developing new contacts
  • interviewing people face-to-face and over the phone
  • attending press conferences
  • recording meetings and interviews using recording equipment or shorthand
  • coming up with ideas for stories and features
  • writing up articles in a style that will appeal to the reader
  • sub-editing other reporters' articles for publication
  • writing up articles for online publication

Working environment

You could work in an office.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding and you'll travel often.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could become a chief reporter or a specialist writer, covering areas like politics, business or particular regions of the country. You could move to a national newspaper or work as a critic.

You could move into other areas such as magazine, broadcast or online journalism. Or you could work in a press office or public relations.

Training opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Multimedia Journalism Apprentice (Cumbria)

  • Wage : £138.75 Weekly
  • Location: Kendal LA9 4DP

Journalism Apprenticeship

  • Wage : £132.00 Weekly
  • Location: East Grinstead RH19 1LR

Courses In England

Journalism and Media

  • Provider: CITY COLLEGE PLYMOUTH
  • Start date: 09 September 2019
  • Location: PLYMOUTH

L3 Journalism Fast Track NCTJ

  • Provider: Lambeth College
  • Start date: 21 January 2019
  • Location: London

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