Factors to consider when thinking about a career in Journalism, Publishing or Media:
Each section below gives you links to information on specific career areas – work activities, related professional bodies, employers/job search and other relevant information.
Journalism, like all media related careers, is a highly competitive area and will demand evidence of true interest and commitment through gaining relevant experience. This could be through student newspapers, student and hospital radio, spending some time observing in a newspaper or magazine publishing office or in a TV news station.
Evidence of your writing ability is key and therefore if you can begin to publish material on-line or in print this will impress future employers or postgraduate journalism course directors.
Other abilities required include: ability to deal with pressure and tight deadlines; meticulous attention to detail; creative writing skills and excellent spelling ability; avid interest in current affairs; passion for research and finding stories; self-motivation; determination; physical and mental resilience.
Jobs in the sector include:
- Newspaper journalist,
- Press sub-editor,
- Broadcast journalist,
- Magazine journalist,
- Magazine features editor,
- Freelance journalist
- New job titles are also emerging such as Data Journalist, Social Media Manager
Employers include: local and national newspapers; on-line news and websites; news agencies; magazines; the trade press; BBC and independent TV stations and radio stations.
Multimedia journalism has become increasingly important ie reporting in text, video and audio for mobile and online platforms. This is where many new jobs are, whilst print journalism has seen some decline.
VIDEOS: Journalism, editorial - Joe Spurgeon, Paul Wiltshire, Steve Wright
There are three main ways you can enter the profession:
- Most graduates will probably enter through a postgraduate course. The majority of these offer a relevant qualification which is accredited by the NCTJ (the National Council for the Training of Journalists), BJTC (the Broadcast Journalism Training Council) or the PPA (Professional Publishers Association)
- New entrant training schemes may be offered by some newspaper groups and broadcasters, although these have been cut back in recent years. Some of the papers that have offered trainee positions in the past include the Times, The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Trinity Mirror, The Press Association. For TV and radio the BBC and ITV offer Graduate Trainee Schemes/Traineeships – competition is stiff and early application is advised.
- Gaining work observation/experience (often unpaid) with local or online companies, or submitting articles to magazines, newspapers and online publications may build up your CV to a point where you are able to apply for paid positions.
NB: many jobs in this sector don’t get advertised, so a speculative approach to job hunting, networking, work shadowing and using social media are essential strategies when it comes to identifying opportunities.
Gaining relevant work experience is an excellent first step and one which allows you to make vital personal contacts – the first stage in ‘networking’.
- If you have any personal contacts – use them! Ask if you can shadow anyone you know who works in a journalism/media/publishing environment.
- Check the work experience section of our intranet pages as there may occasionally be media-related opportunities advertised there. To see current opportunities log into your Careers Account and search for placements with “Cardiff University Experience Works”
- Work placement schemes are available with Trinity Mirror, News International, The Guardian, The Times, The Guardian, the BBC and ITV (Insight Programme) – competition is intense!
- An alternative route is to make speculative applications to local newspapers, magazines, publishers, local radio – call first to find out the best way to apply: paper or email. Follow up with a phone call – you’ll need to be persistent, and to be thick skinned to cope with rejections along the way.
- When contacting employers speculatively, find the name of the most appropriate individual to contact and then address your letter/e-mail directly to that person (notDear Sir/Madam)
- Be sure to spell their name correctly and check all spellings in your application carefully because in this sector, letters with spelling mistakes are usually fast tracked to the rubbish bin.
- Begin your letter by showing that you have done your research on the company
- Never ask what they can do for you – tell them what you can do for them – i.e. the skills/experience you can offer. Provide links to your Linked In profile and to your website/portfolio.
- For more help with CVs and speculative letters, collect our free CV booklet from the Careers & Employability Centre or download from Career Central careercentral.cardiff.ac.uk/
Top tips whilst at university
Most employers will expect you to have been showing sustained interest and commitment to journalism throughout your time at University:
Read the news – a variety of sources – to develop your general and current affairs knowledge
- Get involved with student media – eg writing for Gair Rhydd, Quench, Buzz magazine, student radio, hospital radio
- apply speculatively to newspapers, magazines, websites or broadcast media to explore opportunities
- Offer articles to free newspapers or The Big Issue
- Enter writing competitions and keep copies of all your published work
- Consider writing a regular blog on a topic that interests you. Set up your own website to use for blogging or as a portfolio to showcase your work (eg WordPress)
- Set up/develop your own Linked In profile and start following organisations and individuals that interest. Join relevant discussion groups and when you feel confident, join in
- Follow relevant professionals and organisations on Twitter and Facebook. See who they talk to. Occasionally ask an appropriate question (be sure to keep your own Facebook content looking professional not ‘party’)
- Attend careers talks on journalism, broadcasting, publishing, public relations, advertising etc during the academic year. See Careers & Employability intranet pages and search Fairs and Events for details of upcoming events.