How to get into journalism

02 June 2020
International students having lunch at a restaurant in Cardiff.

Journalism is a traditional profession that has quickly adapted to modern times. It’s an industry with opportunities around the world and can focus on the smallest details of a unique industry, through to the broadest issues the work is currently dealing with. There are many different types of journalism, like investigative, opinion, reportage, which can be applied to different formats, like print media, broadcast and online. Journalism isn’t just about current affairs coverage either, many journalists work for B2B publications or in-house within a specific industry.

If you are planning on getting into journalism, there are several steps you will need to achieve along the way. The desire to be a journalist usually begins with having something you want to say, if you have a special interest, like politics, sports or entertainment - this is a good place to start. You will need to know how to communicate with an audience, as well as knowledge of your chosen subject area, and other related areas like media law. You will potentially want to gain National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) accreditation to enhance your CV, depending on your goals. Additionally, you will need experience, as well as skills in writing, research and communication.

Qualifications needed to be a journalist

Generally speaking, journalists are educated to degree level, but not always in specialist journalism studies. The BA Journalism and Communications degree at Cardiff University is ranked 4th in the UK (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019) and offers a specialist knowledge of working in the industry Choosing this programme means you will graduate with a portfolio of work across media platforms which you can use to start applying for jobs.

If you are an international student, you can study the Arts, Humanities, Law and Social Sciences International Foundation Year to then progress to a journalism degree at Cardiff.

Graduates interested in reportage within print media have the option to gain NCTJ accreditation after their bachelor degree. The MA in News Journalism at Cardiff University is an accredited master’s, or you can choose from a range of accredited diploma courses around the UK.

Improving your skills

To succeed in this career, you will need to excel at writing, and university is the perfect place to perfect this skill, especially if you plan on working in English-speaking media. You can develop your skills throughout your studies by starting a blog about a subject that interests you. You can also join the student newspaper where you will learn about working to deadlines as a team and pitching article ideas. Many well-known journalists started their careers this way as it offers an opportunity to try out different areas of journalism and experience what it is like to work on a newspaper.

Getting journalism experience

Before getting your dream job at a national newspaper or broadcaster, you will need to gain some experience in the field. You can start this while you are still at university with work experience placements and internships. These will often be unpaid so applying and completing these while you are a student means having the experience necessary to find paid work faster after graduation. Showing how proactive you have been in starting your career will also impress employers.

How to get a job in journalism

Work experience also provides a great way to expand your network and form relationships you can build on throughout your career. Being a journalist means having excellent communication skills and being able to form bonds quickly to get to the heart of a story. By starting a solid network, your friends in the industry can share opportunities with you as you develop your career. Find out more about how Cardiff University can enhance your employability.

Entry level jobs in journalism

There are different paths into journalism, depending on your interests and preferred media. Your first job in the industry will start you on your path to becoming a journalist with your dream job. Job titles to look for when searching for your first job include:

  • Blogger
  • Editorial assistant
  • Fact checker / researcher
  • Graduate trainee
  • Junior copywriter
  • Junior / local reporter
  • Office assistant
  • Runner
  • Web writer / editor

Companies to research in the UK

  • Archant
  • BBC / BBC Wales (located next to the School of Journalism, Media and Culture at Cardiff University)
  • Channel Four Television
  • Chelsea Magazine Company
  • Economist Group
  • Financial Times
  • Immediate Media
  • ITV Network Limited
  • Local news media
  • Media Wales (located next to the School of Journalism, Media and Culture at Cardiff University)
  • News UK
  • Sky
  • The Guardian Media Group
  • Trinity Mirror