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. Journalists usually start as cadets and report routine events. In newspapers and on radio and television, most reporters are expected to be 'generalists' who are able to cover almost any topic of interest. With experience, and sometimes further training, journalists may perform a variety of tasks according to their area of specialisation.

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 one-year graduate cadetship involving on-the-job training. Alternatively, you can become a journalist by completing a three-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. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

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.

Duties & Tasks of a Journalist

Journalists: • 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.

Avg. weekly wage:

$1,521

Future growth:

Stable

Employment by state:

ACT ACT 2.5%

NSW NSW 49.4%

NT NT 0.5%

QLD QLD 12.9%

SA SA 6%

TAS TAS 1.1%

VIC VIC 18.8%

WA WA 8.7%

Hours worked:

38.2

Unemployment:

Average unemployment

Gender split:

Male 39.3%

Female 60.7%

Education level:

Not completed Year 12: 7.9%

Highest qualification is secondary school: 6.8%

Highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 60%

Highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 25.3%

Age brackets:

15-19 - 0.3%

20-24 - 14%

25-34 - 18.9%

35-44 - 24.7%

45-54 - 22.7%

55-59 - 6.7%

60-64 - 4.4%

65 and Over - 8.4%

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

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