Careers Service Occupations

Journalism & Writing

Journalism and Writing

About

Find out about the routes into the popular fields of journalism and writing.

Careers advice (journalism)

Careers advice (writing)

Useful blogs include:

Industry news

The Press GazetteMediaGuardian.co.uk and HoldtheFrontPage.co.uk are good sources of news. 

Professional bodies

These represent people working in the sector, providing training and networking opportunities. They often provide careers support for students and graduates. 

They also provide development for people already working in the sector. Follow them and sector skills bodies on LinkedIn, or visit their websites for news, contacts, work experience and vacancies.

Journalism

Training

The National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) delivers training for the UK newspaper industry.

Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC) delivers training for TV and radio.

Industry support

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) provides support for industry professionals and students.

Other associations  

Writing

Scattered Authors' Society is a group of writers for children and teenagers. The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators supports both published and unpublished writers.

Northern Film & Media is the regional film and television agency for the North East of England. 

Arts criticism is covered by the Critics' Circle - professional association of British critics of dance, drama, film, music, visual arts and architecture.

Science and medicine

Making contacts

Talking to people in the sector can give you an insight into the roles found in journalism and writing. It can be useful for networking and making speculative applications. 

You could start with:

Social media, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter, can also be useful for making contacts, finding employers and opportunities. Find out more about how to use social media for your career and subscribe to our Journalism Twitter list.

Events

Recruitment fairs, open days, talks and events give insight and the opportunity to make useful contacts. 

Regular events for this sector include Newcastle University Creative Careers.

There are Employer Presentations and Recruitment Fairs. For more events for this sector see External Events

Reference books available in the Careers Service

  • Getting into films & television, Robert Angell
  • How to get a job in television
  • Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2010
  • The essential guide to careers in journalism
  • Benn’s Media
  • How to get your first job in television, Sha Richmond

Related sectors

You may also be interested in Media or Publishing.

Or see our other occupational pages for more options.

Roles & Skills

The following job profiles include descriptions of typical duties and entry requirements.

For information on undertaking a postgraduate or vocational training course, see Study & Training.

Journalism

Newspaper journalist

Broadcast journalist

Magazine journalist

Press sub-editor

Writing

Writer

Screenwriter

Technical author

Science writer

Skills employers look for

Employers look for skills including:

  • the ability to write quickly, clearly, succinctly and passionately, with excellent grammar and spelling
  • commitment, perseverance and a thick skin (be comfortable asking strangers uncomfortable questions)
  • curiosity: a lively and enquiring mind
  • the ability to strike up a rapport with all kinds of people
  • Teeline shorthand at 100 words per minute or more and a knowledge of media law
  • multimedia skills, as these are increasingly essential (video and blogging skills, writing for search optimisation and multi platforms)

Gaining Experience

Work experience in this sector can be highly competitive and often unpaid.

Some recruiters advertise opportunities, but you may need to contact others with a speculative approach

Try not be disheartened by rejections. It can take a lot of persistence to achieve work experience in this field.

If you are considering working on an unpaid basis, then you may have questions about your employment or payment rights - see our page on unpaid work experience. The Careers Service provides some funding to help with low or unpaid experience – see Career Insights Bursary for more information.

Top tips for applying for work experience

  • know and love the medium you want to work in
  • whoever you apply for, make sure you're familiar with their content and show enthusiasm for it
  • do your homework and find out staff names, roles and everything you can about the company
  • call them to find out who's in charge of work experience and address your recipient by name
  • write a brief email, introducing yourself, explaining what you're looking for and your skills
  • tailor each email to the specific publication

Finding work experience

Advertised opportunities

General

TV companies

Internships

For further advice on finding work experience, see TARGETjobs: work experience: local or national newspapers

Wannabe Hacks provides articles and advice on work experience, including the article Where to look for journalism work experience in the UK. 

Other ways to gain experience

While at university, take the opportunity to get involved in student media.

Hospital and community radio is good for volunteer vacancies and building up broadcasting experience.

The Hospital Broadcasting Association includes a directory of member stations

Community Media Association has a list of UK community radio stations.

Consider creating your own blog or website to showcase your work. Sign up to Twitter and contribute to websites or forums which allow users to submit reviews or comments.

Cuckoo Review is an arts review site for young journalists (aged 15-23) in the North East. You can sign up to review and preview books, music, screen, stage and exhibitions. They supply all tickets, books and music.

Competitions can be a great way to get feedback on your work, showcase your skills, make contacts and, of course, win prizes.  

Scholarships, awards and competitions 

Scholarships and awards

Competitions

Finding Jobs

There are a few graduate training schemes available in journalism - competition for these is fierce.

Examples of employers that run such schemes include Thomson Reuters and the Financial Times.

For a full list of journalism graduate and trainee schemes, see Journo Resources

Use the following resources to find advertised vacancies and also research employers for speculative applications.

Journalism

General

BBC

Newspapers

  • Newspaper Society - includes a comprehensive database of British local newspaper titles and links to their websites
  • Jobs4Journalists - job and internships in journalism and communications
  • HTFP: Jobs - includes trainee and junior reporter roles and magazine writers

The National Association of Press Agencies (NAPA) gives details of freelance press agencies in the UK. Includes a member directory, useful for speculative applications.

The Association of British Science Writers: Jobs advertises science-specific journalism roles.

Twitter can be a useful source of vacancies - see for example @journalism_jobs and @mediamuppet. Wannabe Hacks has a list of journalism job sites with links to their twitter accounts.

Writing

Writers are almost exclusively self-employed or employed on a freelance basis. Most publishing houses will not accept unsolicited manuscripts, so consider employing an agent. 

Technical author

Self-employment

For more information and advice on self-employment, visit Work for Yourself.

Study & Training

Employers in journalism are most interested in real experience and relevant practical skills.

Entry with a postgraduate journalism degree can improve your chances. This is especially true if it is NCTJ-accredited or includes relevant work experience. 

Courses can also provide valuable training in media law, ethics and shorthand. For newspaper journalism, pre-entry routes include one-year full-time postgraduate courses. These lead to a postgraduate diploma or Masters degree.

There are also fast-track, 18 to 20-week postgraduate courses. These are intensive, practical courses usually leading to the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism. 

It's worth researching potential employers to find out which qualifications they prefer.

Postgraduate entry is the most common route to a career in broadcast journalism. The BJTC and NCTJ accredit postgraduate courses that offer both theoretical and practical training.

Useful resources:

For information on postgraduate courses and funding, see Further Study.