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, Oxford Brookes 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 (published) 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 is a great resource that has information on journalism and media graduate schemes in the UK, awards, freelance rates and salary data.
There are multiple routes into newspaper journalism and there isn’t a “set” career path. Some people start with regional or local papers, others through graduate schemes, NCTJ qualifications and experience, internships, working at smaller publications and freelancing. In recent years national newspapers that have offered trainee positions include the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, the Independent, Evening Standard, The Times, the Trinity 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. Some 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.
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 recruit people who have undertaken work experience with them first.
Some magazines and journals look for writers with specialist knowledge (often gained as part of a degree) therefore, before applying check whether you need to have a specific degree to be eligible for roles.
Broadcast 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 and CNN run trainee/internship schemes. Visit their websites for more information on closing dates and read our additional sector pages on Music & Radio and TV, Film & Audio for additional advice.
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.
There is a wide range of postgraduate courses covering many areas of journalism, including newspapers, broadcast journalism, online and sport. A number of these courses are vocational and can be just as intense as a full time job. Core subjects of NCTJ courses can include news reporting, journalism e-portfolio, Teeline shorthand, media law, court reporting and public affairs. There are also Master's 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, you can also try a News Associates' free workshop. Before you embark on further study, ask questions about which organisations students have worked for after graduation, 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.
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 - you can contact people via LinkedIn) in the industry and seek their views.