Have you ever thought about becoming a journalist and whether it is a career for you? There are lots of positives about the job, you might for instance get to watch lots of sport and write about it, get to do lots of travel and break some big newsworthy stories. It is fast paced, with tight deadlines which means pressure to deliver quality work, on time. You will need to be happy to chase a story, this may mean ‘knocking on doors’ literally or otherwise, to get information and leads. Attention to detail is crucial, getting names or quotes wrong can be serious! Traditionally, a large number of journalists were employed in print, predominately local and national newspapers. Nowadays though, journalists are employed in a range of different settings and not just print. With the decline in newspaper sales and increase in 24 hour TV news channels alongside radio, websites and specialist publishers there are a wide variety of employers. And there’s the chance to be a freelance journalist too. Most areas of journalism will have freelance opportunities, whether its horticulture, business or investigative journalism for instance with The Bureau of Investigative Journalism produce some really interesting work (https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/about-us/our-people).
So how do people get into journalism? Most will get in after a degree or post graduate course in journalism. There are 622 undergraduate courses at 105 universities (www.ucas.com). The NCTJ offer courses https://www.nctj.com/journalism-qualifications/Qualificationsanoverview. There are some apprenticeship opportunities too. They tend to be with smaller media organisations. Have you come across https://www.journoresources.org.uk/journalism-apprenticeships-uk-list/ yet? They list apprenticeship opportunities and let you sign up for alerts too. As you will find, the university opportunities do outweigh the apprenticeship opportunities. But if you are interested in the apprenticeship route, it is definitely worth a try! You can always apply for university as a back up plan. For both pathways, you will need to demonstrate your motivation and commitment during year 13. This means that getting involved in any writing, blogging or vlogging about different stories well before year 13 starts is going to be crucial!
So how could you go about showing this commitment whilst you are still studying? Well, there are a range of ways. You could start a blog, https://wordpress.com/ is a good starting point for this. You could write some articles and get them published in local papers, student or community papers and websites. If you’ve got a particular hobby or interest, you should be able to find outlets that share the same interests as you. Getting some work experience will be another great way to show your interest and start to develop your network. You may not start with the most glamorous newspaper titles, websites or broadcasters, but everyone has to start somewhere! Getting your initial experience can be hard work, you will need to be persistent – this is a much needed aptitude for successful journalists, who are chasing stories, so do stick at it. There is a whole world of news out there, with lots of angles to be taken. And in a world where ‘fake news’ happens, the need for proper journalism is crucial to combat it.
Salary wise, you are likely to start on around £14,000 and depending on what area you get into you could earn up to between £40,000-£50,000 per year. As you may have seen, some BBC and Sky presenters do earn more than this! Freelancer pay will fluctuate a lot though, so if you go down this route you will need to make sure you are good at budgeting your money!
So what happens if you do a journalism degree and then decide you aren’t sure about it as a career? There are quite a few related careers that will still use your skills and expertise, for instance PR, press officer, marketing and content creators would be the most obvious and related options. Roles like museum curators, fundraising managers, teachers and police detectives will all use some of the different skills you’ll have in abundance, combined with the ability to understand how a ‘story’ can unfold and be influenced by different facts and how they are presented to an audience. You may need some further training for some of these careers!
So, how does a career as a journalist sound now? Hopefully this article on Journalism – is it a career for you? Has helped inform your choices but we have many more resources available for you to make the best decision on your future.
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