Journalism and publishing is a highly creative sector full of exciting opportunities. We’ve listed some of the different journalism and publishing jobs you can expect to encounter in the secor, along with the requirements and skills you need to pursue a career in each.
If you turn on your TV to watch the 6 o’clock news, you’ll see a Broadcast Journalist. Their job is to research and present time-sensitive or breaking news on television, radio or through a digital medium. They must combine facts, human opinion/case studies with compelling sounds, videos or pictures that help get across important information. Broadcast Journalists will usually work with news editors to plan top stories and will be instructed by a producer who has the final say.
You might find a Broadcast Journalist travelling the world to get an up close and personal outlook on a story, or they may work behind the cameras and bright lights. All Broadcast Journalists need to be amazing communicators who speak in a clear and concise manner, have the ability to stay neutral on sensitive topics, work to tight deadlines and be able to use microphone and camera equipment.
There are numerous routes into Broadcast Journalism, from an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in a Journalism-related subject, or, you could train through an apprenticeship and trainee scheme. To get into a Journalism (or equivalent) degree you’ll need at least five GCSEs (A-C) and three A-Levels with no specific subject requirements. The Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC) is a widely recognised qualification for Broadcast Journalism students. Be sure to look at the list of accredited degrees and postgraduate courses that you can study alongside this qualification.
You can work as a commissioning editor in publishing or Journalism. In Journalism, a commissioning editor will identify trending topics and subjects they think their reader will be interested in, read through story pitches sent in by freelance journalists, choose which stories they want to commission and have meetings about content. Skills needed for this role include the ability to identify what’s popular and high-class communication skills.
A commissioning editor at a publishing house has a similar role. Their main job is to commission books that they think will sell and be popular. They have the essential task of advising the publishing house which books to take on and why and how they’re going to make each book a success. A commissioning editor at a publishing house needs to be comfortable liaising with literary agencies and editorial staff, have great verbal and written communication skills and the ability to meet tight deadlines.
There’s no straight route into this type of role, but it is helpful to have a degree in a subject like Journalism, Marketing or English Language. Read top 5 tips for securing your first job in Journalism.
Behind the journalists, editors and commissioners, there’s a design team that puts together the layout of newspapers, designs captivating and clever magazine spreads, chooses pictures and edits them to fit the story copy. Similarly, at publishing houses, designers also have an essential role in the end product. Designers are the people who create the front covers of books, making sure they connect with the target audience and give new readers a reason to want to pick it up and see what it’s all about.
Designers have to think about how colours, shapes, and textures can impact a potential reader’s perception of the book. To be a designer you must demonstrate that you can meet deadlines, manage your projects, work with others, and be a great visual storyteller. For junior designer roles, employers look for someone with a degree in a design-related subject, like illustration, graphic design or fashion textiles. Or, someone who has an apprenticeship or work experience within the field. It is also beneficial to create an eye-catching portfolio of your work that has been created independently, at university, or through work experience - the main goal is to show practical experience and your ability to use various design software.
As a sales representative at a publishing house you will have an in-depth understanding of the book market and genres and work out how to sell specific books for clients and what you need from the marketing team to help achieve those sales. Sales representatives need to know how to target the right readers and help to connect them to books they will like - this can be based on research and data analysis.
To get into a sales representative role in the publishing sector, you can study a degree in publishing or with another subject like English, or marketing, study for a Masters in publishing, and intern or find work experience to gain skills and build contacts. There are many sales apprenticeships available if you don’t want to take the degree route, apprenticeships start at level 2 (GCSE) and go up to level 7 which is the equivalent of a Masters degree. Most employers look for analytical skills, knowledge of the book market and how it changes or adapts and how to turn research results into sales. See the leading graduate employers in Journalism and Publishing.
A publicity or marketing manager’s job is to know or find out who and how to target the right audience for every different book. This means organising digital or physical outdoor campaigns, and using your initiative to find who may be interested in buying. Marketing managers usually have a say in the majority of decisions right from the beginning, this is because they are the ones who will have to market the book in the best way - they need to know the ins and outs!
For this type of role, employers may look for a marketing or publishing degree, apprenticeship, professional qualifications or PR and marketing work experience. For skills, employers look for attention to detail, commercial awareness, organisation and planning, and numerical skills. Learn more about professional marketing qualifications.
This is another role that applies to both fields. An editorial assistant helps to manage all the content that is needed, checks over the quality by proofreading, admin assistance to editors by taking phone calls, messages, and doing errands the editors don’t have time to do.
For an editorial assistant, employers look for strong communication skills, someone who is tech-savvy, a passion for the titles you’ll be working on, and someone with relevant work experience in the field. They also look for a degree in a related subject like English, media studies, or multimedia Journalism, or a publishing (or equivalent) apprenticeship - such as Level 3 Publishing Assistant apprenticeship offered by several institutions.
Reporter / Staff writer
A reporter often works at a newspaper and can be seen rushing around to find the latest information, write a quick news story, find case studies that will back up the story, fact checking, and background research. A reporter can be a stressful role, but if you thrive under pressure this could be the one for you. On the other hand, staff writers work at digital or print publications, such as ELLE magazine, or VICE. A staff writer role is more relaxed but there’s still lots at steak - from writing up trending news stories before any other publication, finding case studies, and conducting interviews.
For newspaper reporters, you often need an NCTJ qualification that proves you have the skills and academic experience to work in a newsroom. But other digital publications and magazines are not set in stone about this, and instead, look for writing experience and good story ideas. There are apprenticeship courses for junior journalists, but there is no straight route to landing a reporter or staff writer role. Depending on who you wish to work for, employers will appreciate a degree in a journalism related subject, a desire to learn, ability to accept criticism, and excellent English written and verbal skills.
If one or all of these jobs sound like your dream career, browse internships today!