Are you enjoying Bright Network?

Journalism skills you need to get into the sector

Book open Reading time: 5 mins

Journalism is an attractive but competitive sector that requires a certain type of person and skill set. If you know that Journalism is the career for you, It’s important to know what Journalism skills you will need to thrive in this lively industry.

Join the UK's number-one graduate careers network

Becoming a Bright Network member is free and easy - sign up to get exclusive access to jobs, events, networking opportunities, advice and more.

Journalism skills you need to work in newspapers

What Journalism skills do I need? 

  • Communication skills:  It doesn’t matter if you’re a broadcast Journalist, reporter or magazine journalist, any journalism role requires top-notch verbal and written communication skills. This will be needed for interviews, finding new sources and working in a fast-paced newsroom.
  • Knowledge of English language and grammar: Journalists spend a lot of time writing and are expected to edit their work to a high standard. 
  • Research skills: There’s no doubt that journalists need good research skills. If you’ve been tasked with finding out every detail on a news story, you need to know where to look and how to find that information before the story is no longer relevant. 
  • Attention to detail: Journalists need to be thorough with their work. A small mistake or misuse of a word could result in an entirely different meaning to your story or backlash for your publication.
  • Work well under pressure: This skill applies if you work in a newsroom because it’s your job to get those time-sensitive stories researched, written and checked before it must go live to the public. 
  • Understanding what the reader wants - this is different for every publication or national newspaper, but you need to know what the reader wants to know and why they would read this story. News reporters use the 5 Ws method - who, what, where, when and why.
  • Sourcing case studies: Stories don’t just need the facts, they need human connection and anecdotes. Knowing where to look for case studies is a skill that is learned from experience - there’s no set place to look, you have to use your initiative to find what you’re looking for.

What journalism skills do employers look for?

Depending on the role and employer, the skills you will need will differ. However, many employers look for budding journalists who have grit, determination and demonstrated dedication to the industry. This can be from self-published stories, internship experience aside from your degree or qualifications and a range of high-quality cuttings that are relevant to the publication you hope to work for. They also look for perseverance shown through your writing ability over time, or more concise story ideas - you must demonstrate confidence in your work and skills. 

Learn more about the leading graduate employers in Journalism & Publishing.

How can I gain journalism skills?

If you’re at university, a great way to learn some journalism skills is by getting involved with your student newspaper or magazine. This gives you a chance to improve your writing ability, try out different areas of the paper or magazine, and find what you love to write about.

Similarly, it would be beneficial for students and graduates to attend internships or work experience at local or national publications. This will give you first-hand experience working alongside talented journalists and can give you a glimpse of what work-life as a journalist is really like.

If you’re a confident student or graduate journalist, you could begin your career as a freelance journalist. This means you pitch stories to publications that might suit them and get paid! You can build relationships with editors and other journalists, find your niche, listen to advice about how to improve your writing from someone who’s well versed in the industry and learn how to tailor your writing towards specific publications. All these experiences can increase your chances of being hired in this highly competitive industry.

Journalism is more digital than ever. With more technology and social platforms allowing us to have our say, find information and breaking news stories in seconds, being part of this online community can help. The journalist and freelance community on Twitter is a popular place for journalists to seek case studies, talk about something they’re passionate about or support fellow journalists and read their work.

Learn more about tips for securing your first job in Journalism

Learn how to get into journalism with Bright Network Academy

Looking to get into journalism? VICE News Senior Reporter and former BBC West Africa and LGBT Correspondent Ben Hunte takes you through his journey into journalism and how you can get into this exciting sector in this free online learning module.  

What journalism attributes would be beneficial to have? 

  • Analytical thinking: If you work on the news desk as a reporter and brand new stories repeatedly fly your way, you need to know how to write those quickly without any emotional attachment. 
  • Courage: Your job is to get underneath those tough questions and find out every detail of a story so you can share with the public or expose the truth. As a journalist, you need to be bold and ready to take risks for the sake of a good story.
  • Honesty: Your job is to share the truth and nothing but the truth. The general public counts on you to inform them of events as they happen.
  • Trustworthy: Being a Journalist is all about building relationships and being part of an ever-expanding community. You need to demonstrate that you are trusted with important tasks and information.
  • Ability to accept criticism: Journalists need to be able to take criticism from their boss and the public. This could be based on a feature story you’ve written that someone doesn’t agree with, or it could be improvements to make from your boss or sub-editor. Take on board the criticisms to improve your work and take irrelevant others with a pinch of salt.

Where can I find more information about journalism skills?

Journo Resources is a popular website used by journalists to find the right information about freelancing rates, pitching guidelines, and advice. You can learn more about the industry from Bright Network’s Journalism & Publishing career path guide which includes a day in the life of a journalist, and an interview with a digital journalist

Browse the latest journalism roles

Keep up to date with the industry and start applying with Bright Network’s list.  Browse Internships in Journalism to get you started.