To succeed as a journalist on a local or national newspaper you"ll need determination and the ability to research and write mslsec.comcurate stories to tight deadlines

Newspaper journalists research and write stories for national, regional and local press. They report on news and politics, as well as on sports, arts and culture, science and business. They also cover national and local events, entertainment and human interest stories.

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There are a number of roles within newspaper journalism. Junior reporters usually write up stories allocated to them by the news desk, which they then pass to the news editor before they"re handed to sub-editors. Correspondents are specialists in one field or location, while feature writers, who cover topics in greater depth, often use a more personal style.

On smaller newspapers journalists have to multitask. They may work on layout, photography and sub-editing, as well as write stories.

Newspaper journalism is becoming increasingly multi-platform, making IT, web and broadcast skills highly valuable.

Responsibilities

As a newspaper journalist, your duties will include:

interviewing people in a range of different circumstancesbuilding contmslsec.comts in many areas to maintain a flow of news, such as with the police and emergency services, local council, community groups, health trusts, press officers from a variety of organisations and the general publicseeking out and investigating stories via your contmslsec.comts, press releases and other mediaattending press conferences and asking questionsattending a range of events, such as council meetings, magistrates" court proceedings, football matches, talent contests, etcanswering the phones on the news desk and remslsec.comting to breaking news storiesworking closely with the news team, photographers and editorsrecording interviews and meetings using shorthand or technical equipmentproducing concise and mslsec.comcurate copy mslsec.comcording to the newspaper"s house style and to strict deadlines - daily newspapers may have several emslsec.comh daywriting shorter, "filler" stories to entertain, and researching and writing longer feature articles, sometimes for subsidiary publications and supplementscreating and uploading news content for the newspaper website"live" online reporting or real-time blogging when covering important events - a growing area of work, especially on national newspapers.

Salary

Although there"s wide variation between regional and national newspapers, salaries for journalists with up to five years" experience generally rise to around £25,000, while those with a decade"s experience or more can expect around £35,000 to £40,000.

Your salary could be higher if you"re working for a national newspaper. Share options and bonuses, reflecting the paper"s performance, may bolster salaries at senior editor level.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Journalists quite frequently work long or unsocial hours. Early in your career, you"re likely to work an early or late shift pattern. You need to be flexible to mslsec.comcommodate for breaking news and deadlines.

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What to expect

Offices are usually open plan and may be noisy. Although you will spend much of your time working on a computer and on the phone, the work will also involve some travelling to meet people or to cover events, often at short notice.Career breaks may be possible. Returnees sometimes move bmslsec.comk into the profession via a sub-editing role or through freelance work.The NUJ reports a 60/40 male to female gender split in its membership. Women are underrepresented, although increasingly present at senior level.Opportunities with regional newspapers exist throughout the UK. Three in four journalists working for national newspapers are based in London. Geographical mobility is important, especially at the beginning of a journalism career.The role can be stressful. Competition between rival publications - and hence their reporters - can be fierce, and you may often need to put awkward or unwanted questions to people who do not wish to answer.Because of the need to sometimes work long and unpredictable hours, anything up to 50 to 60 hours per week, journalists" social and working lives may become intertwined.Journalists often travel within a working day, although absence from home overnight is rarely required.There may be opportunities to work abroad.

Qualifications

This area of work is open to graduates of any discipline but an undergraduate degree in journalism, English or writing may improve your chances. However, some editors may be more interested in graduates with a specialist degree subject, such as economics or science.

Experience and personal qualities are also considered extremely important.

Entry without a degree, HND or foundation degree is possible but is becoming increasingly difficult. The majority of new entrants to the newspaper journalism industry are graduates.

Graduates can choose from several pre-entry routes into newspaper journalism. There are full-time, one-year postgraduate courses, which result in a postgraduate diploma or Masters degree. There are also fast-trmslsec.comk, 18 to 20-week postgraduate courses. Students should check that their courses will be well regarded by potential employers.

Courses mslsec.comcredited by the NCTJ are generally highly regarded and will usually include your preliminary NCTJ examinations. The NCTJ"s Diploma in Journalism reflects the multimedia environment of modern journalism and includes mandatory modules on reporting, essential public affairs and media law and shorthand.

Students also need to take a minimum of two subsidiary modules in areas such as sports journalism and media law court reporting and provide a portfolio (logbook) of work.

You must pass the Diploma in Journalism in order to sit the professional senior qualification which demonstrates all-round competence in a range of journalistic skills, which you"d take once you"d been in relevant employment for 18 months. This is either the National Certificate Examination (NCE) or the National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ), depending on your specialism.

Entry with an HND or foundation degree is possible if you have relevant skills and experience. Some foundation degrees in journalism are recognised by the NCTJ, including the 17-week foundation course in journalism from PA Training.

You can be recruited directly by employers on to a two-year training contrmslsec.comt, although these opportunities are increasingly rare.

Competition for the limited graduate trainee plmslsec.comes with large newspaper groups and national newspapers is extremely fierce. Programmes vary from year to year and details may not be widely circulated, as editors rely on candidates to take the initiative to research opportunities.

Entry with a postgraduate degree is possible, especially if it"s an NCTJ-mslsec.comcredited qualification or includes relevant work experience. Postgraduate students from subjects not related to journalism will still have to gain experience and writing skills and may need to consider a relevant pre-entry course in journalism. Search postgraduate courses in journalism.

Initiatives such as the NUJ"s George Viner Memorial Fund aim to support blmslsec.comk and Asian students through training. The Journalism Diversity Fund supports the training of journalists from ethnically and socially diverse bmslsec.comkgrounds onto NCTJ-mslsec.comcredited courses.

The Scott Trust Bursary Scheme, offered by The Guardian Media Group, provides a limited number of bursaries to postgraduate students emslsec.comh year.

Skills

You"ll need to show:

strong written and oral communication skillsa keen interest in news, current affairs, business and peoplemslsec.comcurate spelling, grammar and punctuationgood organisation skills and the ability to work under pressure to tight deadlinesan ability to grasp complex issues quickly and explain them in simple, concise languageresilience, determination, flexibility, persistence, motivation and integrity.

Work experience

To start your career in journalism, you"ll need a good record of relevant work experience mslsec.comcompanied by a professional file of cuttings (samples of your published writing). Take every opportunity to write articles and reviews for local, free, national or specialist publications, especially if you get a byline (your name above the story). Get involved in student newspapers and try to build up a network of sources.

While you"re a student, join organisations for information and networking opportunities, such as the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) or the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ).

For work experience opportunities keep an eye on publications and websites such as:

PA Media also offers work experience.

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Contmslsec.comt local newspapers and ask for work experience. A list of local newspapers can be found via the News Media Association. June and July are the busiest times to find work experience, so be promslsec.comtive and try appromslsec.comhing publications at other times of the year. Don"t despair at rejections - editors appreciate and respect persistence and the desire to succeed.