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Journalist

Industries:
Publishing
Personality type:
Communicator
Departments:
Print and Media

The Lowdown        

  • Researching new stories and leads for a newspaper, magazine or other news-based service
  • Writing up articles based on the research before submitting to an editor

Is this role right for me?

For this role, you will need to:

  • Be organised and excellent at meeting deadlines
  • Possess an inquisitive and curious mind
  • Be an able researcher who can quickly and precisely find information on a subject
  • Have an engaging writing style with correct grammar, punctuation and spelling
  • Have excellent editing and proofreading skills
  • Be able to establish a list of contacts within an industry that you can rely on for quotes, interviews and stories
  • Write quickly or in shorthand to record facts while covering events or interviewing people
  • Be comfortable working unsociable hours
  • Have a great personality that can ease interviewees
  • Know the law surrounding news and journalism, as well as the moral questions journalism can raise
  • Be able to collate a large amount of research and data into an article
  • Have confidence in your abilities, and not let an article rejection or an interviewee’s door slammed in the face get the better of you

What does a Journalist do?

Journalists are the writers of content for magazines, newspapers and news websites. They create factual pieces, and carry out a great deal of research before writing. Due to the time sensitive nature of news, journalists are often expected to do a great deal of research, writing and revisions in a short amount of time.

Typically, a journalist will choose one area to cover for one medium, usually something they’re already incredibly passionate and knowledgeable of. Political Journalists for a newspaper rarely write gossip columns in magazines, for example. Journalists have been known to bridge areas of expertise, but usually later in their careers.

Journalists will be expected to keep a “finger on the pulse” of the area they are covering, making sure that new and developing stories are reported quickly and accurately. Many will also spend a lot of time researching in order to try and uncover stories that are yet to be found.

A good journalist’s contact book will be full of potential contacts and leads they have gathered over their career. Whether they’re emailing in a tip for a new story, or whether it’s just an industry professional who always gives them a good quote, being able to forge lasting relationships with those inside the sector they’re covering is a key skill for journalists.

While the main core of the job is to report on new and exciting stories, journalists are also expected to write feature articles, which seek to express an opinion or give an overview of a subject. In a newspaper, this could take the form of profiling various candidates in an upcoming election, or an article questioning whether a footballer is good enough for the team he’s playing for. Newspapers tend to have more news stories than features, the opposite of magazines which are usually more feature-focused.

A journalist can either work freelance or for a publication. Freelance journalism can be difficult for reporting on new events, as many publications will be sending staff writers to cover all the latest developments, but it can be a very lucrative path for feature articles, or if a journalist has a knack for finding stories that the bigger publishers have overlooked.

Some journalists may be referred to by different terms, depending on their specific job-role. Someone who only writes feature articles may be referred to as a “Feature Writer” or “Columnist”.

Will I need a qualification?

While becoming a journalist without a qualification is possible, it’s becoming increasingly difficult. A degree in Journalism or English will improve your chances, or having a qualification in the specialist subject you intend to cover.

What’s the best route in?

Journalism is one of the most competitive industries in the UK at the moment. In order to get ahead of the competition, you must display a real passion for journalism. Being part of local or online publications helps, as does having a list of contacts within the industry you intend to cover.

Graduate and trainee schemes can be difficult to find, but if you have a decent portfolio of articles and a positive attitude, it’s a perfectly viable route to get into the industry. Otherwise though, it’s a case of starting from the bottom and working your way up, making sure you stay ahead of the competition.

Where might the role take me?        

A successful journalist can find themselves leading a group of reporters, making sure that a sector is being covered to the best of the team’s abilities. Alternatively, they can become part of the Editorial team, influencing the direction of the publication as a whole.

Interested? Find out more…

For more information on job roles in the creative industries, take a look at Hiive's job roles.  

Websites

 

Publications

  • The Journalist Magazine covers news on the Journalism industry and on the National Union of Journalist’s latest activities
  • Publishing Executive is a quarterly magazine that takes an in-depth look at the evolutions of the publishing industry
  • InPublishing reports on newspaper, magazine and online publishing communities

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