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

Common journalism career opportunities include jobs for 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

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, local and online companies 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 London 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 and 2016.

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. Euromoney is one example: their main areas of focus is finance and banking, but you don’t need a background in finance or a degree in Economics to apply – for example an Oxford student with an Oriental Studies degree recently joined their graduate programme (and internships are offered too). Some magazines and journals also look for writers with specialist knowledge – New Scientist has for example, recruited trainees 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 Regional News 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 usually host a ‘mock newsroom’ event at Oxford in Hilary term. 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, Media & Marketing 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. If you love food then consider speculatively approaching ‘Food to Love’ magazine or if you’re passionate about road cycling try writing to ‘Cyclist’ magazine for experience. 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), while News Associates and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism also organise useful talks and seminars open to students.

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

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. If you love food then consider speculatively approaching ‘Food to Love’ magazine or if you’re passionate about road cycling try writing to ‘Cyclist’ magazine for experience. 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), while News Associates and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism also organise useful talks and seminars open to students.

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

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 20 November 2017.
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Recent blogs about Journalism

Exploring Careers for Arts Students

Blogged by Julia Hilton on November 14, 2017.
  • When: 16.00-17.00, Monday 20 November
  • Where: Denis Arnold Hall, Faculty of Music

Have you wondered what to do with your degree? What have alumni studying English, Music, Classics or History of Art done? How do you navigate the huge range of options out there and are there any relevant internships available? Come along to answer these questions and more at this Careers Service event. There’ll be plenty of examples to inspire next steps and practical information on how to be successful in the graduate labour market.

You do not need to book a place at this event but please bear in mind that spaces will be allocated on a first-come, first served basis and popular events may fill early so arrive in good time.

Free Journalism Masterclasses

Posted on behalf of News Associates. Blogged by Julia Hilton on November 1, 2017.

Run by News Associates — the UK’s number one NCTJ journalism school, these sessions give a practical insight into a career in newspapers, magazines, online and broadcast media. You’ll be tackling a breaking news story and will be provided with feedback on your writing.

London sessions:

  • Tuesday, November 7 – 19:30-21:30
  • Friday, December 1 – 10:30-13:30
  • Tuesday, December 5 – 19:30-21:30
  • Tuesday, January 9 – 19:30-21:30

Manchester sessions:

  • Friday, November 10 – 10:30-13:30
  • Tuesday, November 28 – 19:30-21:30
  • Saturday, December 2 – 12:00-15:00
  • Friday, January 12 – 10:30-13:30

Email Lucy Dyer on ldyer@newsassociates.co.uk or visit the News Associates website to book.

Sports Journalism Masterclasses

Delivered by Sportsbeat – the UK’s leading sports news agency, and hosted by News Associates.

In London and Manchester – upcoming dates:

  • Football reporting – Saturday 25 November, 13:30-17:30
  • Winter Olympics – Friday 16 February, 10:30-14:00

Email Lucy Dyer on ldyer@newsassociates.co.uk or visit the News Associates website to book.

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Older posts can be found in our archive of past blogs.