Journalism and publishing

Pile of newspapers on a table

Discover other sectors

This sector not for you?  Don't worry, there are plenty of others to explore.

Journalists can work in TV, radio, newspapers, online news, magazines, the trade press or specialist journals. Many work across these industries and freelancing is common.

Within the publishing industry there are many roles available and a wide range of skills needed. While an appreciation of literature and a love of books is a good starting point, commercial awareness and an understanding of business is vital in this highly competitive, multi-million-pound industry.

Science graduates seeking a career outside the lab can find rewarding roles in science communication and academic publishing.

Find out about journalism and publishing

Key resources

Research the sector and keep up with current issues by reading:

What skills do I need?

Jobs in journalism and publishing are varied and the specific skills will depend on your role. Skills can include:

Journalism:

  • communication - oral and written and the ability to adapt style appropriately
  • ability to identify and tell a story
  • ability to get a message across effectively in a variety of media
  • effective research and interviewing skills
  • understanding social media and how it can be used to engage public and generate stories
  • using initiative and problem solving
  • ability to work well under pressure
  • creativity and innovation
  • IT and technical skills
  • maths and data analysis
  • shorthand (100 words per minute) is still useful
  • commercial awareness is important if you're considering freelance work.
  • good subject knowledge if you work in a specific field.

Journalism is open to graduates of any degree, but some choose to take a postgraduate qualification in journalism to develop their skills. The best courses are accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) or the Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC).

Publishing:

  • communication
  • negotiation
  • working to deadlines
  • organisation and planning
  • project management
  • graphic design
  • attention to detail.

Work experience

Experience is essential if you want to work in journalism or publishing. Read the Media and creative industries work experience (PDF , 943kb) to find out how and where to get experience. You should think about:

  • getting involved in student media at university
  • writing a blog and being active on social media by following and engaging with journalists and publishers
  • organising your own work experience by making speculative applications - try local newspapers and magazines, or small local publishing houses
  • applying for advertised internships, bearing in mind that these are very competitive
  • networking, which is very important in the creative sector as many jobs are discovered through word of mouth.

Many publishers are based in London. If you don’t have access to accommodation in London but want to take advantage of work experience opportunities there, use The Spare Room Project, which offers publishing interns a spare room in the house of a publisher.

There are opportunities exclusively for under-represented groups in the sector to gain work experience in journalism and publishing, such as the Guardian Positive action scheme (BAME schemes, and a scheme for people with disabilities) and and Creative Access (BAME and those with lower socioeconomic status).

Finding jobs

Journalism jobs are advertised:

Freelancers find work by pitching ideas to media organisations; Mediargh has some advice on putting together a feature pitch.

You’ll be expected to have a portfolio of your work, so save yourself time by putting this together as you build up your experience. Many budding journalists put this on their website or blog, but beware of copyright restrictions when including copy you wrote when working for media organisations.

There are a few graduate schemes but they are very competitive:

Publishing jobs are advertised:

There are also a small number of popular schemes with large publishers:

What can I do at York?

There are lots of things you can do right now at university to help you get the skills and experience for a career in journalism or publishing:

  • Get involved with student media - there are opportunities to get experience in print, online, magazine, TV and radio.
  • Start networking by reading about York graduates on York Profiles and Mentors and sending questions to people working in journalism and publishing.
  • Keep an eye out for relevant events like build your skills and meet potential employers.
  • Join a student society and get involved - as well as having fun, you'll be developing skills such as teamwork, organisation, project management and more.
  • Look for other opportunities to develop your creativity, communication and time management skills. Check our volunteering pages for ideas.
  • Check for internship opportunities in York through the Student Internship Bureau, advertised on Careers Gateway.
  • Take advantage of free access to trade journals like Broadcast, The Bookseller and The Journalist, which you can read in the Careers info room.
  • Consider a placement year to get twelve months of real-world experience.
  • If you're thinking about freelancing, get involved in enterprise activities to develop your commercial awareness
  • Listen to our What do you actually do!? podcast episode with Adam Smith, social media editor at The Economist.