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Journalism, publishing and media

This field is highly competitive and will demand evidence of true interest and commitment through gaining relevant experience.

Job options

Jobs within journalism include newspaper, broadcast, freelance or magazine journalist; press sub-editor; magazine features editor and online contributor.

Publishing jobs include:

  • editorial roles such as commissioning editor, editorial assistant, copy editor, proof-reader
  • commercial roles such as designer, production controller, purchase ledger, finance assistant, publicity officer, marketing assistant, sales representative, contracts officer and publishing rights manager.

A wide range of other roles exist within the media sector including those within web and UX design, as well as:

  • film/TV/radio production
  • lighting, sound and camera operation
  • programme research
  • multimedia programming
  • games development.

Types of employer

In this sector, you could work for local and national radio stations, newspapers, magazines, online news and websites and news agencies. You could also work for the trade press; publishers of books, magazines and academic journals and professional associations and private companies that produce in-house magazines.

You could also work for independent production companies and terrestrial, satellite, digital and cable television companies.

Within the film industry, you could work for production and facilities houses; community film/video projects, digital and internet channels (eg YouTube).

Most jobs occur in major cities such as Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and London. The broadcasting sector continues to be dominated by London, although there are opportunities elsewhere - such as in Manchester's MediaCityUK, where the BBC and ITV have bases, and Cardiff – home to BBC Wales, ITV Cymru Wales and S4C.

Skills and abilities

In addition to the transfereable skills employers are looking for, you'll need:

  • good writing skills
  • ability to deal with pressure and tight deadlines
  • meticulous attention to detail
  • creative writing skills and excellent spelling ability
  • avid interest in current affairs
  • passion for research and finding stories
  • self-motivation and determination
  • physical and mental resilience
  • ability to work with video, data and social media.
  • excellent spelling, punctuation and grammar
  • excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • adaptability
  • ability to work well under pressure and capable of meeting deadlines
  • good administrative, IT and proofreading skills.

The skills needed for work in TV, film, radio or multi media will vary, but you'll need to demonstrate a genuine interest or experience in the sector (these are often more important than academic qualifications). Enthusiasm, persistence, creativity and drive are key attributes for careers in broadcasting and media.

Breaking into the profession

There are various possible routes into careers in journalism, media and publishing, including postgraduate study, graduate training schemes and entry level roles.

You can also attend careers talks on journalism, broadcasting, publishing, public relations and advertising during the academic year. Visit your Careers Account for details of upcoming events.

For careers in journalism, most graduates will probably enter through a postgraduate course.

The majority of these offer a relevant qualification which is accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), the Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC) or the Professional Publishers Association (PPA).

Postgraduate degrees in publishing are also available, but not essential. However, if your first degree is in a completely unrelated area, an MA in publishing can give you industry-specific knowledge, relevant skills, and a network of useful contacts.

Find out more about pursuing postgraduate study.

New entrant training schemes may be offered by some newspaper groups, although these have been cut back in recent years. Some of the papers that have offered trainee positions in the past include:

Graduate schemes in publishing are rare, but do exist with HarperCollins and Penguin Random House UK (‘The scheme’) in the UK.

For TV and radio, the BBC and ITV offer graduate trainee schemes and traineeships in areas such as journalism, technology and production – competition is stiff and early application is advised.

Vacancies are advertised via the internet, in newspapers, and specialist publications such as Audio Visual, The Knowledge, Media Week and Broadcast Magazine. You should register for their job alerts if you’re interested.

The media, including television and publishing, remains an area in which gaining valuable, practical work experience is vital to your chances. So if you have any personal contacts within the sector, use them to explore work shadowing opportunities, and talk to them about their day-to-day work.

Entering the journalism, publishing and media sectors is notoriously competitive. To stand out from the crowd, you'll need to gain as much experience as possible via work shadowing, placements, internships and voluntary activities.

Journalism opportunities

Work placement schemes for would-be journalists are available with Trinity Mirror, News International, The Times, The Guardian, the BBC and ITV (Insight Programme), but competition is intense.

For work experience opportunities, keep an eye on publications and websites such as MediaGuardian and Press Gazette. You should also contact local newspapers, regional newspapers, and free newspapers or publications to ask about work experience opportunities. You'll need to be proactive to seek out opportunities which are not openly advertised.

Publishing opportunities

The majority of publishing companies advertise internship opportunities on their websites and industry sites such as The Bookseller, which is free to sign up to and sends out weekly job bulletins.

Broadcasting opportunities

For broadcasting roles it is essential to gain as much paid or unpaid work experience as possible – eg as a runner, broadcast assistant, actor, producer, or news-gatherer, or via self-employment as a DJ.

Getting involved with local or hospital radio and television stations is a good place to start. Opportunities may also be available with Buzz magazine.

If you're  a current student

Most employers will expect you to have been showing sustained interest in journalism, publishing and media throughout your time at university. The best thing you can do is get involved with student media – eg Gair Rhydd, Quench, CUTV and student radio.

You could also check out work experience opportunities from the Work Experience and GO Wales Teams – there may occasionally be media-related opportunities.

If you have your heart set on a career in media, publishing or journalism, you need to be prepared for the fact that you're unlikely to land your dream job straight after university.

Search for vacancies posted by employers or set up job alerts, which will notify you whenever a new role comes up that matches your criteria. Social media channels (such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) and blogs are also great resources for finding out about entry-level opportunities.

If you're interested in publishing

Keep an open mind about opportunities that might be available – for instance, if your end goal is to work in publishing as an editor, don’t dismiss administrative, marketing or reception jobs – these can give you an insight into how the industry works and can get your foot in the door.

Most opportunities for publishing or editorial work arise in London and the southeast, or with academic publishers located in major towns and cities. Look out for vacancies in relevant publications such as The Bookseller, Campaign, Print Week and Publishing News. Relevant job titles might include editorial assistant, publicity assistant, production assistant, marketing assistant, publishing assistant, sales assistant.

If you're interested in journalism

Direct entry training schemes for journalists are increasingly rare, and most new entrants to journalism are graduates. If you're an aspiring journalist, you should contact local and regional newspapers and publications – this is where most newspaper journalists start out. For magazine journalism, it is likely that you will start in a junior role such as editorial assistant or junior reporter.

If you're interested in broadcasting

If you are interested in broadcasting or production work, runner jobs are often a good first step along with entry-level administration or coordination type roles. See The Unit List and Talent Manager for vacancies. Other entry level jobs could include broadcast assistant or programme researcher.

Many jobs in this sector don’t get advertised, so a speculative approach to job hunting (networking; work shadowing and using social media) are essential strategies when it comes to identifying opportunities.

Call employers first to find out the best way to apply: paper or email. Follow up with a phone call – you’ll need to be persistent and thick skinned to cope with rejections along the way.

Useful directories for generating employer contact details within this sector include:

If you're looking for independent Welsh production companies, search the Teledwyr Annibynnol Cymru (TAC), which represents the sector here.

Improving your skills

In addition to the workshops, courses and masterclasses you could attend to develop your skills, we also recommend that you  brush up on current affairs, showcase your writing skills or join a professional body.

Make sure you are also able to discuss books which you have read recently, and have opinions about the direction in which publishing is heading.

If you're a budding journalist, make sure you regularly read news from a variety of sources to develop your general and current affairs knowledge.

Since work experience is valued over qualifications alone, you'll have a better chance of standing out from the crowd if you have a portfolio of published work.

Publish your work online

For journalism roles, evidence of your writing ability is key, so if you can begin to publish material online, through blogging, for example, or in print, this will impress future employers or postgraduate journalism course directors.

We recommend writing a regular blog on a topic that interests you. You can set up your own website to use for blogging or as a portfolio to showcase your work (eg WordPress).

Submit to magazines and competitions

Submitting articles to magazines, such as The Big Issue, newspapers and online publications may also build up your CV to a point where you are able to apply for paid positions.

And if you do get published, be sure to keep copies of all your work. You can also submit your work to writing competitions – an accolade that would really enhance your CV.

Develop your technical skills

Develop your technical skills by looking out for relevant short courses or online tutorials to familiarise yourself with new technology, and develop your IT and web skills – increasingly important for media careers in a digital age. Find out more about developing your skills.

To improve your employability, think about joining a professional body or special interest groups. Professional bodies often have free or low-cost student memberships.

Many include careers information, member directories and jobs boards on their websites:

Find out more

Careers and Employability