How to become a Journalist

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 for 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).

Tasks

  • Making decisions about the specific content of publications in conjunction with other senior editors and in accordance with editorial policies and guidelines.
  • Writing news reports, commentaries, articles and feature stories for newspapers, magazines, journals, television and radio on topics of public interest.
  • Reviewing copy for publication to ensure conformity with accepted rules of grammar, style and format, coherence of story, and accuracy, legality and probity of content.
  • Critically discussing daily news topics in the editorial columns of newspapers and reviewing books, films and plays.
  • Collecting and analysing facts about newsworthy events from interviews, printed matter, investigations and observations.
  • Writing advertisements for press, radio, television, cinema screens, billboards, catalogues and shop displays.
  • Researching and writing technical, information-based material and documentation for manuals, text books, handbooks and multimedia products.
  • Determining advertising approach by consulting clients and management, and studying products to establish principal selling features.

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.


Specializations

par - 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. They may also work as editors or progress to the role of editor after several years of experience. See the separate entry for Editor.


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).

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.

  • Average age
    Average age
    39 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
    Stable
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    56% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    44 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
    $1,576
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Very high skill
  • Unemployment
    Unemployment
    Lower unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    68% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    23,600 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 3.3%
    NSW: 42.0%
    NT: 0.6%
    QLD: 14.8%
    SA: 4.9%
    TAS: 1.7%
    VIC: 25.4%
    WA: 7.3%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 0.7%
    20-24: 9.1%
    25-34: 29.1%
    35-44: 23.5%
    45-54: 19.6%
    55-59: 7.6%
    60-64: 5.2%
    65 and Over: 5.2%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 7.9%
    Bachelor degree: 52.4%
    Below Year 10: 0%
    Certificate III/IV: 4.2%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 18.5%
    Year 10 and below: 1.6%
    Year 11: 1%
    Year 12: 14.3%
    Years 11 & 10: 7.9%
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