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Journalism | The Careers Service Journalism – Oxford University Careers Service
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Types of job

Common journalism jobs include 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
  • Magazine features editor
  • Magazine journalist
  • Newspaper journalist
  • Press sub-editor
  • Freelance writer

A number of Oxford students ask about Broadcast journalism in particular. Broadcasting generally encompasses any audio or visual programming that is disseminated to a large number of radio or television receivers.

Typical employers of journalists:

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Newswires
  • Websites
  • Radio stations
  • Television companies
  • Periodicals publishers
  • Social media platforms

Freelance and portfolio careers have become increasingly common although they usually follow a considerable period as a staff journalist, building up experience and contacts.

Entry points

Generally speaking, you can enter the journalism sector in one of three main ways:

  • Taking a postgraduate course, e.g. broadcast journalism, or a short course with the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) or the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).
  • Being recruited into a new entrant training scheme with a newspaper, TV or radio broadcaster e.g. the BBC Journalism Trainee Scheme.
  • Building up work experience (often unpaid) with university papers and submitting articles to magazines, newspapers and online publications. This is essential for both of the above routes too but with persistence, a number of placements and/or work experience opportunities you should be able to build up a CV to apply for paid positions.

Journo Resources run the only complete list of journalism and media graduate schemes in the UK and update their list at least every fortnight. You can sign up to receive the latest grad scheme openings and paid full and part-time opportunities every month via email. They also list awards, freelance rates, salary data, and a fortnightly journalism clinic. .

Print journalism: newspapers

In previous years it has been common to begin on a local or regional paper before moving to a national. However, local and regional papers are now squeezed and under-funded due to a sharp decline in advertising revenue. Most journalists get in through graduate schemes, NCTJ qualifications and experience, internships, smaller publications and freelancing. In recent years nationals that have offered trainee positions include the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, the Independent and Evening Standard, The Times, the Trinity Mirror (owners of the Daily Mirror) and the Daily Mail. Some national newspapers do not recruit annually or publicise their schemes, so your investigative skills will be required to track the openings down. Regional newspaper groups have also frequently run trainee schemes (examples include the Express and Star group and Newsquest). A number of journalism trainee schemes require candidates to already hold a pre-entry National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) qualification. Qualifications can be gained via a range of courses available but double check that the course is accredited and, ideally, that it has strong links with employers. News Associates was named the UK’s top fast track and top overall journalism course by the National Council for the Training of Journalists in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Print journalism: magazines

Consumer magazines occasionally advertise for trainee journalists, but few such opportunities will  appear on CareerConnect as most publishers advertise in their own publications or on their own websites, as well as in The Guardian and/or Press Gazette, or just recruiting people who have undertaken work experience with them first.

The specialist business and trade press recruit actively. For example Euromoney, The Economist or London Sport, they will have a particular focus but you don’t necessarily need a particular degree or qualification to apply but rather an interest in their area.  Some magazines and journals however do look for writers with specialist knowledge – New Scientist has for example, recruited trainees with a science background for six-month internships.

Broadcasting journalism: TV & radio

Broadcast Journalists may begin their careers working as Researchers or Newsroom Assistants, progressing to become On Screen Reporters, Special Correspondents, News Presenters, and Bulletin or Programme Editors. They may also move into Programme Production or Management roles, or become Journalists, Newspaper Reporters or Writers. Some Broadcast Journalists may also start their careers working as Newspaper or other Print Press Journalists. The BBC, ITV News, CNN and Sky News run trainee schemes, and offer work placements to students genuinely committed to news. Visit their websites for more information on closing dates and read our additional sector pages on Music & Radio and TV & Film for more advice.

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. Each year, Reuters advertises a training scheme for applicants with a demonstrable interest in business and finance, as well as a foreign language. Other Press Agencies usually only recruit experienced journalists or those who have already completed a recognised journalism course.

Postgraduate courses

There is a wide range of postgraduate courses covering many areas of journalism, including newspapers, broadcast journalism, on-line and sport. A number of these courses are vocational and can be just as intense as a full time job. Core subjects of the NCTJ curriculum include news reporting, journalism e-portfolio, Teeline shorthand, media law, court reporting and public affairs. There are also Masters courses available for those that want to take a more academic approach to journalism. Either way, if you are interested in taking a course try to attend an open day or visit before making an application. News Associates run a number of free workshops and tasters in their London and Manchester offices and have also hosted a ‘mock newsroom’ event at Oxford. Before you embark on further study, ask questions about how successful these courses have been in gaining jobs for their past students, possible bursaries available and how the course is structured and assessed.

Check to see that those courses you are considering are recognised by the relevant training bodies. See the Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC) website for a list of accredited degrees and postgraduate courses in broadcast journalism. You should check with colleges or universities for exact entry requirements. Some accredited training providers attend our Arts, Advertising & Media Fair in Michaelmas term.

People in the industry have sharply opposing views on the value of further study – while some view it as essential 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.

Skills & experience

Skills needed

  • First, you will need evidence of your writing ability – if you have published material online or in print this will give you a vital 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.
  • Resilience – ability to handle criticism and constructively build on it.
  • Ability to deal with intense pressure and very tight deadlines.
  • Self-motivation, drive, determination and a passion for exposing stories and delivering information to the public.
  • Meticulous attention to facts and details, and willingness to do the research.

For all journalism roles you should be able 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.
  • Be well informed about current events and able to research topics quickly and effectively.
  • Have the 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.
  • Be able 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.
  • Have sound editorial judgement and legal awareness.
  • Be able to draw on creative writing and storytelling skills.
  • Ideally have knowledge and awareness of producing cross platform content and developing ideas.

Getting experience

There is often confusion about whether you should be paid to do an internship or work experience. It will depend on your arrangement with the employer as well as the status of the employer. To find out if you are entitled to be paid when undertaking work experience or an internship, visit the Government’s webpages on the National Minimum Wage.

If you’re still a student, get involved in student media at Oxford. Student publications, including Cherwell and The Oxford Student, and the student radio station Oxide, provide excellent opportunities to gain relevant experience. There are plenty of other student publications both in print and online (such as The Isis and Bang! science magazine) as well as college websites and department publications where you could contribute and gain writing or editorial experience.

Seek out experience on newspapers and magazines local to your home – read our advice about making speculative approaches – and scan internship opportunities listed on Journo Resources during the vacation. Getting work experience is not easy, and while occasionally opportunities are advertised on CareerConnect, you should also apply speculatively to the media that interests you, whether that be food, cycling stock-picking or trains. Have a look at the Magazine Subscriptions website for more inspiration, but the key is persistence and perseverance so be sure to follow up any speculative applications you send.

Above all, 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 printed publications 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. Pick a specific theme on a topic that interests you and write a regular blog to demonstrate your written ability for different audiences.

Read, watch and listen to the media – you need to be both generally well-informed in current affairs and specifically knowledgeable about the particulars of the newspaper, magazine or station you are approaching. Contact journalists who are doing the kind of job you want to do – the Oxford Careers Network usually contains details of journalists who are happy to be approached by Oxford students. At Oxford, join relevant societies (such as the Oxford Media Society), and attend other student events hosted by organisations such as News Associates and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

The Guardian News and Media (GNM) run one-day events on journalism every few months, which feature presentations, a number of professional journalists and editors talking about their careers followed by a question-and-answer time and the chance to make your own front page, with feedback from a senior Guardian journalist. For more information contact: insight.days@guardian.co.uk

Getting a job

The title ‘journalist’ can cover a huge range of jobs, including music critics, war correspondents, sub-editors, page designers, football reporters, literary reviewers, listings compilers and property specialists. They write for outlets as varied as The Daily Mirror, The Economist, Allergy Magazine, Heat and National Geographic. However, in many cases, newspapers are employing fewer journalists as many local and regional papers have merged or moved from daily to weekly editions, and there is increasing collaboration between journalists working on different publications within the same group. CareerConnect occasionally has some opportunities for those seeking a career in journalism (both work experience and graduate vacancies) but this source of vacancy information is only a very small part of the picture.

So, it is vital that you:

  • approach any contacts you have
  • use LinkedIn and the Oxford Careers Network to identify journalists and freelance writers
  • join relevant student societies to attend sector presentations, events and make contacts in the industry

and, as suggested above, build your work experience by writing for:

  • student papers/magazines
  • local papers and free magazines
  • online publications
  • blogs (both your own and comment pieces for other blogs)

Nationally-advertised jobs for trainee journalists are often listed in www.journoresources.com and sometimes appear in the Guardian’s media pages on Monday/online. The Press Gazette (for print journalism) is also worth watching. www.gorkana.com is a good place to look for jobs – sign up to their weekly jobs alerts, which also have work experience opportunities. The website www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk contains details of regional and local newspaper vacancies, though it is also essential to make speculative applications to individual newspaper editors and to offer your articles to free and local papers. Another useful website for jobs is www.journalism.co.uk.

It is vital that you monitor advertisements as the time frame for applications is often short. Have your CV, blogs, published work, LinkedIn profile and any cuttings up to date.

Personal branding and your online presence are increasingly important for journalists. The first thing almost any prospective employer will do is Google you; so make sure your Facebook profile is private and your profile picture (which is publicly available) is appropriate. Create a LinkedIn profile; this is a professional profile where you can upload information on your education, work experience and link to your article portfolio. It is a great way to network with other journalists and enquire about potential work opportunities. If you have a Twitter account, be mindful what you say, particularly about prospective employers. It is also worth thinking about getting a website to use as a portfolio, or at least starting a blog with links to your published work. There is a useful video on YouTube to show you an example of a cuttings portfolio.

Our list of external resources below will give you plenty more information about where to look for vacancies, further careers advice and industry information.

Our resources

Books

The following books are available to read in our Resource Centre at 56 Banbury Road:

  • Journalism Uncovered – Emma Caprez, Trotman
  • In Print: A Career in Journalism – Chris Alden, MediaGuardian
  • Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2012 – William Boyd

Podcasts of past events

Breaking into Journalism

In this podcast, hear from Oxford alumna Bridget Arsenault, Associate Editor for Print and Digital at Vanity Fair London. Learn about how she broke into journalism, what it’s like to work in this competitive field and how she landed her current position at Vanity Fair. The talk was recorded at the Arts, Media and Marketing Fair 2014.

Life as a wordsmith: careers in communicating

Speakers from different communications agencies including Green.TV Media Ltd, Culture Trip and Tamarindo Communications. The focus will be on how, and where, graduates
can put their writing skills to work as so many students struggle to find jobs ‘in writing’ beyond journalism.

External resources

Career sites

Support

This information was last updated on 31 January 2019.
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Recent blogs about Journalism

Fast-approaching publishing deadline: eight-week paid internship with Hachette UK

Posted on behalf of Hachette. Blogged by Julia Sadler on 02/05/2019.

Looking for some publishing experience? Free in the long vacation between 1 July and 23 August?

Hachette‘s Fresh Chapters 8-Week internship is a fantastic opportunity to gain insight into the publishing industry. In particular, placements will be based in editorial, marketing or publicity.

  • The internship lasts eight weeks.
  • It is ideally suited to anyone looking to gain hands-on experience in a dynamic publishing environment.
  • You must be available to start work on the 1 July 2019 and be free throughout the entire eight-week period until the 23 August 2019.
  • All interns are paid the London Living Wage for the duration of the programme.
  • Hachette is interested in a wide range of experience; this is not limited to publishing experience only.
  • Shortlisted candidates will be invited to interview.
  • Candidates must have the right to work in the UK and be at least 18 years old.

This internship is open to candidates from all backgrounds.

To apply

By 10 May, the following parts must all be completed and saved into one Word document and sent to recruit@creativeaccess.org.uk with the subject title ‘Hachette Fresh Chapters – Application (YOUR NAME)’

  1.  Your CV. (Follow the Careers Service’s key advice on writing a concise, evidence-based CV here ):
  2.  Your cover letter (applications without a tailored cover letter will NOT be considered). More advice on cover letters.
  3. Answer three questions listed here.

And if you don’t secure a publishing internship this summer…

… don’t despair! Remember: experience of writing for one of the many university newspapers is likely to be just as impressive to a recruiter as a formalised internship. Research the key skills needed for a job in publishing here and write a list of ways you can hone them:

  • Develop your communication and commissioning skills by writing for university or college newspapers, or your own blog.
  • Improve your organisational and attention to detail (crucial for publishing) by supporting the running of an event in your College, for instance.
  • Book an appointment with a careers adviser on CareerConnect to brainstorm how best to develop your publishing skills.

Creative Industries Showcase 2019 at Channel 4

Posted on behalf of Creative Access. Blogged by Corina Lacurezeanu on 04/02/2019.

Creative Access are thrilled to announce the details of their next Creative Industries Showcase at Channel 4

When: Wednesday, 13 February 2019
Where: Channel 4’s headquarters in London
For more information and to sign up, click here.

Hosted by comedian Shazia Mirza, and sponsored by ITV Studios, this evening will include a panel of experienced industry professionals from a range of creative sectors, including talent, television, publishing, film, theatre and journalism. It will be a fantastic opportunity for attendees to network with each other and a host of employer company representatives.

Are you passionate about Journalism?

Blogged by Damilola Odimayo on 23/01/2019.

….but don’t know how to get on the career ladder?

Then our unique How to get a job in Journalism Workshop could be for you!

When: Tuesday 29 January, 14:00 – 15:30
Where: The Careers Service, 56 Banbury Road.

This practical workshop, run by Press Award winning journalist Jem Collins (who is also founder of the website Journo Resources) will look at a number of insider tips and tricks to help you both find and snag the perfect job.

Places are limited and allocated on a “first-come, first-served” basis, so sign up here if you would like to take part.

BBC Studios unveils disability scheme to attract and retain on- and off-screen talent

Blogged by Annie Dutton on 28/11/2018.

BBC Studios (BBCS) has launched a six-month mentoring and training programme for disabled people as part of plans to attract and retain on- and off-screen talent.

The scheme will be run by the drama and comedy production department of the UK pubcaster’s commercial arm, with 10 places on offer to help with the development of disabled talent from across the creative industry.

The programme, which will also attempt to support the career progression of disabled colleagues within BBC Studios, is available to both internal and external applicants and aims to ensure greater visibility as well as creating a pipeline of talent.

It will be led by Oliver Kent, head of continuing drama at BBCS, which has also said it will guarantee that the next vacant researcher positions on BBC hospital soaps Holby City and Casualty will go to disabled people.

Kent said: “We need different voices and perspectives to inspire and develop ideas and support our vision of inspiring audiences. This is a key piece of work that will enable this to happen and ensure we create a pipeline of talent for the future.”

Ten places are available for the Scripted Mentoring and Training Programme and applications will close on 6 January 2019.

Journalism Workshops with News Associates

Blogged by Damilola Odimayo on 22/11/2018.

News Associates are offering free workshops for students, taking place in London and Manchester. Covering a range of topics and working with editors, these 1 day workshops are a great opportunity to get practical experience and feedback on your work.

Visit their website for further information.

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