In this video, we follow Harriet as she gains experience and advice about getting into the Journalism sector.
Many workplace skills are relevant to a variety of roles and sectors, but we have picked out a few that are specific to the work involved in journalism.
- Creative Writing
- Microsoft Office
- Feature Writing
- Page Lay-out and Design
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
- Quark Xpress and InDesign
- Journalism Law
- Ethics Training
- Project Management,
- Financial skill
- Analysis and Problem Solving
- Planning and Organisation
Journalism is a fast paced industry and in the right role you are rarely in an office...It is also a role where you see results everyday, which can be very satisfying.
Bryony Waite, Broadcast Journalist for BBC Radio Berkshire
(Politics and History, 2012)
There is a huge variety of roles available within the journalism field. Many individuals move between specialisms throughout their careers, but there is also scope to focus on an area of particular interest to you and dedicate your work to that end.
Newspaper reporting is perhaps the most well-known area of journalism, and it involves researching and writing copy for articles and print newspapers.
These roles often also involve practical frontline work which is then translated into an article at a later date.
There is a huge variety even in the content that is written for print, including traditional news pieces, as well as opinion columns, specialist reviews and reports, and feature pieces.
Broadcast journalists deliver news via radio, television and the internet, often in multi-media format.
Roles can involve presenting information on radio or in front of a camera, as well as more production focused roles that are involved with writing, editing, managing and producing media pieces.
For more information on working in Broadcast Journalism, see our interview with Simon Vigar, the Royal Correspondent at Channel 5 News.
Investigative Journalism is focused on equality, fairness and honesty, and reporters in this area investigate, research and report information on stories that might involve some malpractice or controversy.
This is the area where freedom of the press is most central, as stories can involve holding election campaigns to account, tracking environmental polluters, and investigating political and social problems.
Photojournalists are the camera people of the journalism world, documenting news events and providing images and videos for features and pieces.
Those who work in this specialism are often self-employed, which provides freedom and flexibility but may also be slightly less stable than a full-time contracted role.
Often this type of role will require you to have spent time taking photography or videography courses as well as standard journalism training in preparation for the work.
Perhaps quite a glamorous area of journalism, foreign correspondents report back to news organisations from abroad, reporting on the events and issues currently facing that country, and how they relate to the home country.
This often requires you to live in the country you are assigned to, and may be very full-on and even dangerous depending on the specific political issues ongoing in the foreign place.
Freelance Writers are journalists that are not necessarily employed by a single media company, but are instead commissioned for work by a variety of outlets. This is self-employed work, so is flexible and extremely varied, but can also be quite stressful and intense as there is no guarantee of work unless you find it yourself.
Freelance writers typically specialise in a particular area or discipline (e.g. News, Arts & Entertainment, Technology), but some cover several.
For more insight into what it is like to work as a freelance journalist, please see our interview with Jonathan Shadel on the Career Zone blog.
Most newspapers and other media journalism outlets employ editors to ensure that the pieces come together into a coherent whole and are well written and presented.
These roles are often progressed into at later stages in journalist’s careers, the most senior being the Senior Editor of a newspaper or broadcasting company.
Copyediting roles are more entry level, but may require specific qualifications.
Training & qualifications
There are a huge number of opportunities for gaining additional qualifications and training that will aid you in seeking employment within the Journalism sector.
Open the drop down menus below to find out more about some of the options.
This is the flagship journalism entry and training scheme run by the BBC Academy. It is an 11-month fixed term contract paying £20,800 per annum. It involves placements with BBC News on radio, television, digital and online.
It is not a scheme designed for beginners or those straight out of an undergraduate degree; applicants are expected to display examples of their previous experience within journalism.
Specific areas of specialism are available on the scheme, including in the political Westminster Office, the BBC World Service, the Visual Journalism Unit and the newsrooms of the BBC.
Many previous trainees go on to work in newsrooms and on programmes across the BBC, due to the immersive experience in BBC news on the scheme. There is coaching and support available to trainees for applications to jobs within the BBC, so this scheme is an excellent route into these roles.
For more information take a look at their website here.
The London School of Journalism have many courses in journalism and associated skills that are often necessary for graduate level roles.
Distance Learning Courses include; News Journalism, Freelance and Feature Writing, Freelance and Travel Writing, Freelance and Music and the Arts, Freelance and Sports, Internet Journalism, Subediting, Media Law.
Short Courses include; News, Lifestyle, Freelance Journalism and Creative Writing, Media Law
They also run a Summer School for four weeks each August, which gives a very detailed overview of News and Features journalism, designed for those who are trying to decide if journalism is the right career for them.
The National Council for Training of Journalists run many accredited courses, including shorthand courses and examinations which may be vital in reporting roles.
For more information see their website.
The union also run a range of skill-development programmes, as well as courses in video editing for journalists, freelance forums and publishing.
The can also support students with bursaries for further study in fields related to journalism.
For more information go to their website.
Many journalism graduate jobs will expect you to have some kind of qualification in addition to your undergraduate studies.
This may be a postgraduate degree, or some kind of course. If you wish to undertake a course after you finish studying, make sure you check whether it is accredited by a reputable association such as the National Council for the Training of Journalists, who have a course search on their website here.
If you want to do a more university based postgraduate course, you can search for relevant MAs on www.findamasters.com.
The London School of Journalism run a postgraduate online course in Journalism, which is designed to give you pre-entry knowledge and experience in writing feature articles, news reports and reviews, creating a website, professional use of social media, interviews, sub-editing, modern freelance journalism, networking opportunities and an optional shorthand module. This is an excellent foundation to boost you into your future career.
Your choice of modules during your degree is an excellent opportunity to build specific skills and knowledge that will aid you in your career path in Journalism.
Many of the modules on offer in the Social Sciences and International Studies College involve critically analysing social issues and the role of the media in society, which is of huge relevance to a career in any section of journalism.
If you wish to pursue a specialism in a specific topic, modules can be an excellent way of highlighting this to future employers and giving you a good foundation in the topic. Below are some examples of modules within the SSIS departments you may want to consider taking in order to develop your understanding and gain the specific knowledge required within the sector. These modules may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.
Politics/ Streatham Campus
- POL1020: Politics in Europe
- POL2027: The Politics of the World Economy
- POL2079 Contemporary Public Debate in an Age of ‘Anti-politics’
- POL3172 Political Participation
- POL3094 Data Analysis in Social Science III – relevant to data-driven journalism
- POL3051 The Media in Europe
- POL3218 Media and Politics
Politics/ Penryn Campus
- POC1003 British Government and Politics
- POC1009 State, Society and Culture
- POC2012 The Ethics and Politics of Humanitarian Intervention
- POC2065 Spies, Secrets and Lies
- POC3051 Political Psychology of Masses
- POC3079 The Politics of Gender, Sex and Sexuality
- ARA1010 Politics and Economy of the Contemporary Middle East
- ARA1018 Introduction to Islam
- ARA2173 Living and Communicating in the Arab World
- ARA2118 Gender-Identity and Modernity in the Middle East
- ARA2150 Muslims in Britain
- ARA3158 Armed Islamist Movements: Jihadism and Beyond
Internships are a hugely significant part of the route into a journalism career. Many newsrooms have internships that they advertise individually and these can be highly competitive, so make sure you research deadline dates for specific places you’d be interested in interning.
Also make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up to date and professional, as potential internship employers may google you or find your page before they agree to hire you for as an intern, and you want to make the best first impression possible.
You can also find volunteering and internship roles in business environments that may give you valuable skills to transfer to your future journalism career. Take a look at Communications and Press based roles, as these will give you skills such as writing, copy-editing and press liaison that will be vital at interview for graduate schemes or journalism jobs.
Take a look at the SCP and GBP internships available at the university through the My Career Zone website, as these an amazing chance to get practical experience and boost your CV in preparation for graduate roles.
In addition, consider doing some freelance work, writing news analysis on your own blog, or teaching yourself new skills such as Final Cut editing software, coding or infographics design, as these will all be valuable assets to any future employer.
Extra-curricular activities are hugely important to any job search, and can really make you stand out in comparison to other graduates.
There are many opportunities to gain extra experience during your time at university, but below are some examples of things you could consider.
We have split this into Student's Guild opportunities and Volunteering, and have highlighted some of the options that are most relevant to Journalism. This is by no means an exaustive list, so if you have something specific in mind you can do your own research on the Guild website or online.
Joining societies and getting involved with the Students' Guild activities is a fantastic opportunity to gain experience for your CV and show your dedication to your chosen field or career path.
This is extremely important in the Journalism sector, as societies give you the opportunity to develop and prove the skills needed in job interviews or freelance work.
Below is a list of some Societies or student groups that you might consider joining in order to give your skill set a boost and make yourself stand out from the crowd.
- Exeposé - editing, communication, experience of print/online newspaper journalism, writing for various themed sections – members have gone on to work for major publications (The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Mail, BBC, OK!, Xbox 360 Magazine, many others).
- Debating Society – debating skills, communication, unbiased broadcasting experience, current issues, workshops in debating skills.
- Art History & Visual Culture Society – learn and enjoy: art, film, photography, design.
- XpressionFM – radio station for the University of Exeter, presenter training, production, audio editing, (music, sport or current affairs), reading news, great for interest in broadcast media/journalism.
- XTV – student film and TV station, get involved with any aspect of film and television making
- Creative Futures Society – for those considering a career in the creative industries, socials, talks and workshops from professionals.
- Creative Writing Society – develop writing skills.
- Photography Society – useful for photojournalism.
- Pearshaped Music Magazine – journalism experience, music specific.
Volunteering is another opportunity to show your dedication to the field of Journalism and gain valuable skills and experience.
Many of the projects run by the Exeter Student Volunteering (ESV) part of the Guild are relevant to the Journalism sector, and there are also many other opportunities around campus, so you will certainly be able to find something you’re interested in.
- Worldwide volunteering – database of volunteering opportunities from across the globe
- Exeter Council for Voluntary Services – resources about local volunteering opportunities
- ESV Magic Carpet – help people gain self-confidence and well-being through creative arts, range of groups such as mental health, learning disability and community groups – good for creative skills
- ESV Project Restore – rehabilitates survivors of human trafficking – research volunteer opportunities
- Exeter Nightline – communication skills
My Career Zone
Below, you can find feeds of the current jobs, events and mentors available through The Career Zone that are relevant to Journalism.
Click on any of the links to be taken to the specific page.