You can enter the sector in a number of ways, below are examples of the most popular routes for recent graduates:
- Taking a postgraduate course in Journalism eg: at City University or the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ)
- 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.
Regardless of which route you decide to take, it’s essential to gain significant writing experience prior to applying for a course or applying to a job, by writing for university/college newspapers, blogs etc. This experience, not only helps to improve your writing skills, but also to build a portfolio of work that demonstrates your abilities to future employers/course providers
Journo Resources has a 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
There are multiple routes into print journalism and there isn’t a “set” career path. Some people start with regional or local papers, although there are now less opportunities due to cost cutting that’s a is often a result of reduced advertising revenue and on-line options. However in the age of the 24 hour news -cycle, sometimes “breaking – news” stories start in a local or regional paper and are then picked by a national paper.
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 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
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.
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.