Becoming a journalist

Written by matthew fortuna
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Becoming a journalist
Become a newspaper, magazine or online journalist. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Becoming a journalist generally requires a university degree, a post-graduate journalism qualification or natural talent and solid work experience. Journalism is ever-changing as the industry transitions from traditional media to the Internet. It has always been a profession requiring accuracy, dedication and the ability to tell stories in a clear and engaging way. Becoming a journalist can be achieved by following many paths, but certain requirements remain constant.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Develop writing skills and stay abreast of current events. Take English and journalism courses throughout school, college or university and read newspapers every day.

  2. 2

    Work for the newspaper at your university. Gain experience writing news stories, interviewing people, working beats and finding and checking facts in stories around campus.

  3. 3

    Earn a degree in either communications, journalism or English. Take as many journalism classes as possible, including classes for features and investigative writing, news writing, online publishing and media management.

  4. 4

    Apply for work experience or internships at newspapers, magazines, radio stations, TV stations and online news sites. Whether large or small, internships and work experience create opportunities for bylines and provide real newsroom experience.

  5. 5

    Build a CV and portfolio. Write for as many publications as possible -- freelance for local papers, submit articles to online news organisations and submit articles anywhere that will publish your work.

Tips and warnings

  • Educate yourself in other forms of news media, including photography, videography, online publishing and broadcasting.
  • Immerse yourself in knowledge of the business world and the economy, as job openings are most frequent on these beats.
  • Apply for work experience at small newspapers, as they usually allow more freedom and more responsibility.
  • If practical, pursue a master's degree in journalism or a post-graduate journalism qualification to further your knowledge and standing in the trade.
  • The National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) publishes details of accredited journalism qualifications and courses.
  • Beware of low wages. Entry-level journalists will usually not start at a very high salary for the first few years of employment.

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