Reporter, press officer
Newspaper journalists investigate and write up stories for local, regional and national newspapers.
Salary range: £15,000 to £50,000
How to become a newspaper journalist
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- a college course
- an apprenticeship
- working towards this role
- specialist courses run by professional bodies
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, or equivalent, for a degree
- a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
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.
You’ll usually need:
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
You can work towards this role by starting with an advanced apprenticeship as a junior journalist.
Employers will set their own entry requirements.
You could start as an office assistant or trainee reporter on a local or regional newspaper.
You’ll need a minimum of five GCSE grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, or equivalent qualifications. Many recruits have A levels or degree level qualifications.
Volunteering and experience
Competition for jobs is strong, and you’ll need to show you’ve got writing experience. You’ll find it useful to have examples of your published work in a portfolio, especially if these include your name.
To build up your experience you can:
- volunteer for student and community newspapers
- write your own blog and have an online presence on social media
- submit articles and reviews to local papers or websites
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.
There are a number of bursaries available to eligible journalism students.
Professional and industry bodies
As a journalism student you can apply for student membership of the National Union of Journalists.
You can find out more about working in journalism from the National Union of Journalists.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- knowledge of English language
- 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
What you’ll do
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
You could work in an office.
Your working environment may be emotionally demanding and you’ll travel often.
Career path and progression
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.