As technology has developed, it has changed the journalism industry quite dramatically. At one time, print journalism was the most common career path in the industry. These days however, there has been much debate as to whether printed news is becoming a dying art. If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in this sector, the good news is there is still plenty of demand for outstanding print journalists. In fact, it is still one of the most competitive industries out there. The bad news is the path to your dream job isn’t going to be easy.
If you really want to succeed you need to be competitive, motivated and driven. Provided you put in a lot of hard work, there is no reason why you can’t break into this exciting, rewarding career. The trick is to look at all potential obstacles as though they are just tiny steps to get you closer to your dream job.
Getting the right skills
There are several routes that lead to a career in print journalism. Getting a journalism degree is perhaps the most common first step. If you’re looking to choose a degree course, be sure to look for ones that are accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists. These courses will provide you with both the practical and theoretical skills that you’ll need as a journalist. A degree can really help you to get your foot in the door.
If a degree is unattainable for whatever reason, training in the industry is an alternative route you can take. In fact, a training position can sometimes give you a better step up the ladder than a degree. One of the main things employers look for is experience. Of course, there’s also the chance to gain full time employment with a company after you’ve completed their training program. On the job training is one of the best ways to learn the industry and gain the necessary skills to thrive as a print journalist.
One of the simplest things you can do is start to read absolutely everything. You might not be interested in the latest showbiz news but what you need to remember is that you aren’t always going to report on stories that you are interested in. As a journalist you need to be flexible and artistic enough to write about absolutely anything; particularly in the beginning of your career. Once you’ve got a foot in the door that is when you can start looking at applying for the news stories you actually want to write. So get reading, understand the industry and you’ll be ready to start pitching relevant ideas.
Creating a portfolio is a fantastic way to show potential employers what you can do. Remember; be flexible with your writing. Cover a variety of different stories and try to write them from a fresh, unique angle. Journalists are required to get the stories nobody else has. It’s competitive so you need to be able to offer something different if you want to stand out. Don’t cover stories that hundreds of other journalists have covered. Look for a unique angle and go with that.
When you are just starting out, unpaid volunteer work can be an ideal way to get experience. Many newspapers and magazines often look for volunteer writers. While you may not be paid for your work, you will gain exposure. Having something actually in print will help you go far in your career. There are even volunteer opportunities abroad that can provide you with unique skills in the industry.
Where can I do it?
If working abroad does interest you, there are a variety of placements available. If you’re looking to work in a developed country, the pay will be better but the requirements will be stricter. These include countries such as China, Japan and Canada.
One country that is currently looking for print journalists is Mongolia. Hoping to add a more western feel to their media sector, there are plenty of placement opportunities here. You’ll also be required to teach English while you’re there so it can be a good idea to brush up your skills and even gain a qualification.
No matter what stage you’re at with your journalism education/training, there’s something you can do right now to improve your chances of employment in this competitive industry. Follow the actionable steps below to get started on your print journalism career path.
1. Start a journalism degree course that’s been accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists
2. Read absolutely everything to become familiar with the industry
3. Look online for training positions in your local area
4. Find volunteer writing opportunities (such as with us at Global Nomadic! We always need guest bloggers and article writers)
5. Create a portfolio to highlight your skills
6. Brush up on your grammar and writing skills
7. Look for an ESL teaching qualifications course if you want to work abroad
8. Find an internship in the field to gain experience, contacts and skills.