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Newspaper journalist Reporter, press officer

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Newspaper journalists investigate and write up stories for local, regional and national newspapers.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £15,000 to £50,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You could start as a trainee on a local or regional newspaper. Opportunities are rare and you'll need to show you've writing experience.

You could also get into this job through an apprenticeship.

You could also get into this career through a degree in journalism or English, or a postgraduate journalism qualification.

You could also take a journalism qualification like those offered by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has more careers information.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • excellent 'plain English' writing skills
  • excellent research skills
  • excellent listening and questioning skills

3. What you'll do

You could be reporting on council meetings and school fêtes for a local paper, or on general elections and world events for the national press.

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

4. Salary

Starter: £15,000 (local newspaper trainee)

Experienced: £20,000 to £30,000

Highly Experienced: £50,000 or more

Salaries on national newspapers may be higher.

Freelance journalists agree a fee for each piece of work they do. These are negotiated individually or by following NUJ guidance.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You may work long, irregular hours including evenings, weekends and public holidays.

You'll usually work in an open-plan office. You'll also spend time out of the office, following up stories. If you work for the national or international press you could travel abroad.

6. 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.

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Last updated: 13 September 2018