Where can I work as a journalist?
Journalists work on newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations, and in news agencies, and press offices. All journalists will produce online content, whatever media organisation they are working for due to divergence and digitisation.
In addition to working for traditional journalism employers, journalism skills are also marketable across the wider communications industries such as public relations, marketing and in any organisation where online content may be produced.
Go to the A to Z jobs list
Your next steps
- Watch our video on portfolio interviews (Winning Moves)
- Questions about your plans? Talk to a member of our team.
Spotlight On: Journalism
At our virtual workshop David Brown and Justin Cash shared their insights on a career in journalism.
David, currently a senior BBC journalist, has worked mainly in television news as a journalist, producer and programme editor. For more than ten years, David helped to make national news bulletins for BBC One. His foreign assignments have included Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.
Justin is editor of Money Marketing magazine and has worked for magazines including Citywire and Legal Week.
Also on our blog: How To Become a Journalist - Advice From People Who Have Made It
What qualities and skills do I need to work as a journalist?
Includes video interviews with John Hess, former journalist for BBC East Midlands Today
Being able to write well is just a starting point. According to the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), editors look for the following things:
- An interest in current affairs at all levels
- a lively interest in people, places and events
- an ability to write in a style that is easy to understand
- good spelling, grammar and punctuation
- a willingness to accept irregular working hours
- an ability to work under pressure to meet deadlines
- determination and persistence
Spotlight On: Political Journalism
John Hess worked for BBC East Midlands Today between 1997 and 2015 and at a recent Spotlight On event he kindly talked to us about his career and the challenges facing political journalists today.
A career in journalism
In this video John talks about his interest in politics and the skills you need to become a journalist. In this competitive area of work, he offers advice on how to impress a future employer.
In this video John talks about the challenges of political journalism, the difference between regional and national reporting and the impact of social media on the profession.
What job titles and roles come under journalism?
Titles can vary from organisation to organisation, but the most common journalist job titles are:
- trainee and junior reporter
- senior reporter
- chief reporter
- specialist reporter
- magazine writer
- staff writer
- multimedia or digital journalist
- data journalist
- feature writer
- sub editor
- online journalist
- sports journalist
- digital reporter
In addition, journalists can be employed as:
- social media specialist/manager/producer
- digital media producer
- internet marketing manager
- public relations officer
- digital public relations officers
and in many other digital communications roles
Current labour market trends
According to the British Labour Force Survey, over the last decade, the number of journalists in the UK has broadly followed an upward trend, but in 2017, the number of those employed as journalists stood at 73,000, a decline from 84,000 in 2016, a figure largely accounted for by a drop in freelance opportunities.
While the internet has provided more opportunities for journalists, copy can be unpaid, or paid at low rates that have not risen for many years, making it harder for the freelance journalist to make a living from that work alone.
In the same period, the numbers of people working in public relations has risen from 49,000 to 54,000, and some journalists do consider moving into this sector as their skills and knowledge can be transferable.
Find out about public relations
How do I gain experience?
Recent NCTJ reports show that 87% of new entrants to journalism did a period of work experience or an internship before getting a first paid job
Being at university offers you an ideal starting point to build relevant journalism skills and experience and there are things you can be doing to see if it is the right fit for you.
1. Student media at Nottingham
Cover student community news or special interests for Impact, write and broadcast news bulletins and features for URN and NSTV. These are all fantastic ways to try journalism out and get relevant skills and experience onto your CV.
2. Social media and blogging
Social media is now a central tool of the modern journalist, whether you work in print, broadcast or online, so writing your own news or interest blog, or broadcasting a regular podcast, or Vlog and using platforms such as Twitter and Instagram to build a following for your posts is an essential thing to be doing and can show that you understand how a journalist would use social media.
3. Work experience with a news and media organisation
After trying some of the things above, you might then want to think about getting in touch with news and media organisations to arrange some work experience during a vacation, or perhaps through volunteering on a regular basis for a few hours per week. Most media and news organisations will offer a short period of experience, but will look for evidence of commitment to journalism, even at this stage, so make sure you can demonstrate your seriousness through what you say in your application letter or email, backed up by your experience and evidence on your CV.
Make sure you have addressed your suitability by being clear about your relevant qualities and skills (see section above) as well as talking about the experiences you have already had (points 1 and 2 above). Show that you know who the organisation’s audience is, and be prepared to talk about some of its output, and ideas you may have, and importantly, be up to speed with the news of the day.
For large organisations, check out what they say about applying for work experience via their websites. For smaller organisations, research what they do, who their audience is, familiarise yourself with their output, and write speculatively to the editor/producer.
4. How can you gain experience during the COVID 19 social distancing situation?
There are ways you can build up relevant skills during this period, through blogging, vlogging or running a podcast and building an audience for your output via social media. This information tells you how.
You can also find opportunities to do some volunteer writing and editing on Journalism.co.uk
What qualifications do I need?
Recent NCTJ report 'Journalists at Work 2018' shows that 81% of journalists hold a journalism qualification.
Qualifications are they necessary?
It is not impossible to break into journalism without a relevant qualification, and there are examples of past Nottingham graduates who have done just that. However, most of those who have been successful have usually built up an impressive CV of relevant experience whilst still a student. Some large media organisations run graduate journalism programmes, see the section on where to find vacancies on these pages for further details.
Advantages of relevant qualifications
There are industry accredited courses in news, magazine, and broadcast journalism that you can take after graduating. In addition to preparing you with the skills to work in your chosen form of journalism, you will be taught shorthand (still a sought after skill for journalism) media law, public affairs, digital production, and social media for journalism.
The course options are:
Taught Masters or Postgraduate Diplomas – usually run by universities and colleges that last for one academic year, or two years part time.
Fast Track courses, run for up to 3 months – usually run by independent news organisations.
To find out more and search for courses, consult:
National Council for Training of Journalists for newspaper and magazine journalism course
Broadcast Journalism Training Council for broadcast journalism courses
Professional Publishers Association for accredited courses
Where do I find vacancies?
What can I do at Nottingham?
Slides from a recent talk on Getting Into Journalism can be found on the
Spotlight On Moodle page
Get involved in the following student societies:
IMPACT MagazineIMPACT organise a media conference each year in November. The Media Conference invites professionals from the media industry to share their experiences and advice with students interested in pursuing a career in this field. The event will include panel discussions, workshops and a networking session. Contact IMPACT for more details.
Nottingham's Student Television Station (NSTV)
- The Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC) - information about careers in broadcast journalism, sponsorship bursaries, traineeships, courses and jobs
- The Guardian Student Media Awards - annual competition, winners are awarded cash prizes and work experiences at The Guardian and Sky News
- The Journalism Diversity Fund - aimed at people from diverse backgrounds without the financial means to attend NCTJ training courses
- The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) - industry news and a dedicated students section with information and resources about starting a career in journalism, work experience and training
- News Media Association - The NMA exists to promote the interests of news media publishers to Government, regulatory authorities, industry bodies and other organisations
- Press Gazette - industry news, jobs, student journalism blog and placement opportunities
- The Scott Trust Bursaries Scheme - bursaries for aspiring journalists, to assist students who are facing hardship in attaining the qualifications needed to pursue a career in journalism
- PressPad - Provides affordable accommodation in London to help with media internships and work experience