How to become a Journalist

Journalists write and edit news reports, commentaries, feature articles and blogs for newspapers, magazines, radio, television and websites, including online publications.

Personal requirements of a Journalist

  • Able to write clear, concise, objective and accurate material quickly
  • Good general knowledge
  • Interest in current events
  • Aptitude to learn keyboard and shorthand skills
  • Able to speak clearly when working on radio and television

Education & Training for a Journalist

To become a journalist you usually have to complete a degree in journalism or in a related field with a major in journalism, followed by a 1-year graduate cadetship involving on-the-job training. Alternatively, you can become a journalist by completing a 3-year cadetship, during which you receive instruction and gain experience in practical journalism under the supervision of senior journalists. To get into the degree courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education with English. A number of universities in Australia offer relevant degrees. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Duties & Tasks of a Journalist

Journalists may perform the following tasks:

  • gather news and information by interviewing people and attending events
  • undertake research to provide background information for articles
  • assess the suitability of reports and articles for publication or broadcasting, ensuring they are within an established style and format, and edit as necessary
  • write articles that comment on or interpret news events, some of which may put forward a point of view on behalf of the publication
  • present news on air (television and radio).

Working conditions for a Journalist

All journalists are required to understand the laws of defamation, contempt and copyright. They may have to work long and irregular hours and are often under pressure to meet deadlines. Journalists may work indoors and carry out interviews by telephone or may have to work outdoors in all kinds of weather. Travel is often required.

Employment Opportunities for a Journalist

Most journalists work for country, metropolitan and suburban newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations. They may also work for press agencies. Due to changes in the industry, it is common for journalists to work on a freelance basis. Others move into publicity roles in government departments, work as press secretaries for government ministers or work in related fields such as advertising, marketing and public relations. Technological changes have increased the speed of information exchange, leading to a more interpretative role for journalists. This has increased the demand for journalists with expertise in specialist fields such as economics and political science. Factors that influence employment range from the number, size and economic viability of media organisations to the use of modern technology and the degree of networking and resource sharing between organisations.

Specialisations:


Columnist

A columnist writes a regular segment within their particular interest category (creative arts, politics or technology, for example), often incorporating a personal view or opinion.


Feature Writer

A feature writer writes detailed stories or presents commentaries on specific news topics.


Leader Writer

A leader writer discusses news topics in the editorial columns of newspapers or magazines.


News Reporter

A news reporter reports on day-to-day news events (crime, education, health or sport, for example).


Roundsperson

A roundsperson reports on and discusses a specialised area (politics, economics or education, for example).

Avg. weekly wage:

$1,241

Future growth:

strong growth

Employment by state:

ACT 2.4%

NSW 37.5%

NT 0.9%

QLD 14.5%

SA 5%

TAS 3.2%

VIC 26.8%

WA 9.8%

Hours worked:

40.4

Unemployment:

average

Gender split:

Proportion of male workers 50.2%

Proportion of female workers 49.7%

Education level:

Proportion of workers who have not completed Year 10: 0%

Proportion of workers who have not completed Year 12: 0%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is secondary school: 22.1%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is a Certificate 3 or 4: 1.4%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is a Diploma or Advanced Diploma: 0%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 55.3%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 21.2%

Age bracket:

Proprortion of workers aged below 35 years: 68.2%

Proportion of workers aged above 35 years: 66.3%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

Additional Information
Cadetships are offered by national, regional and local media organisations. Entry requirements vary, but you will need to demonstrate a passion for journalism and a flair for writing. Competition is very strong. Contact the organisations you are interested in to find out about their cadetship program and application process.
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