Media

Newspaper journalist

Newspaper journalists investigate and write up stories for local, regional and national newspapers.

Annual Salary

£15,000 to £50,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

Variable

4%
Future employment

There will be 4% more Newspaper journalist jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

You could be reporting on council meetings and school fêtes for a local paper, or on general elections and world events for the national press.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • investigating a story as soon as it breaks
  • following up potential leads and developing new contacts
  • interviewing people face-to-face and over the phone
  • attending press conferences
  • recording meetings and interviews using recording equipment or shorthand
  • coming up with ideas for stories and features
  • writing up articles in a style that will appeal to the reader
  • sub-editing other reporters' articles for publication
  • writing up articles for online publication

Degree

You may find it useful to have a degree in a subject like journalism or English. This will help you develop the skills you'll need as a journalist.

You could also do a postgraduate course in journalism. Some of these are accredited by the Professional Publishers Association.

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree
  • a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course

College

You could do a college course, which would teach you some of the skills and knowledge you need in this job. Relevant qualifications include Level 3 Diploma in Journalism or Level 3 Diploma in Multimedia Journalism.

Some colleges offer the Level 3 Certificate in Foundation Journalism and courses in Shorthand, accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a level 3 course

Apprenticeship

You can work towards this role by starting with an advanced apprenticeship as a junior journalist.

Employers will set their own entry requirements.

Other Routes

You can study a range of professional qualifications in journalism, accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ). These are available either online or part time at a training centre.

If you have a degree, you may be able to do a Fast Track NCTJ Diploma in Journalism course offered by National Council for the Training of Journalists.

£15,000 to £50,000

Starter salary: £15,000 (local newspaper trainee)

Experienced salary: £20,000 to £30,000

Salaries on national newspapers may be higher.

Freelance journalists agree a fee for each piece of work they do. These are negotiated individually or by following NUJ guidance.



These figures are a guide.

Variable

You may work long, irregular hours including evenings, weekends and public holidays.

You'll usually work in an open-plan office. You'll also spend time out of the office, following up stories. If you work for the national or international press you could travel abroad.

With experience, you could become a chief reporter or a specialist writer, covering areas like politics, business or particular regions of the country. You could move to a national newspaper or work as a critic.

You could move into other areas such as magazine, broadcast or online journalism. Or you could work in a press office or public relations.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has more careers information.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • excellent 'plain English' writing skills
  • excellent research skills
  • excellent listening and questioning skills
  • knowledge of media production and communication
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • excellent written communication skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • persistence and determination
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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