Journalism is a popular industry for Arts and Humanities graduates across the UK. Careers within this industry provide a great opportunity to explore your curiosity for a subject such politics, fashion, crime, food or pop culture whilst potentially making discoveries that could change lives.

Being a journalist is dynamic and exciting; it can be fast-paced, spontaneous and no two days are ever the same. However, with excitement comes a busy and, sometimes, difficult lifestyle. You may find yourself bringing your passport to work just in case you get sent out to do a story abroad. This can be fun if you’re ready to embrace it, but a challenge if you like a steady job. However, not all journalistic jobs are this unpredictable, so consider which kind of lifestyle you’re looking for and perhaps make this a deciding factor when searching for opportunities. Either way, be prepared for long hours, modest entry salaries, and fierce competition.

‘‘If I’m producing I’ll be working on the breakfast hours. This means I have to set my alarm for 2am to arrive at 3am before we go live at 6. It’s not 9-5 in journalism!’’- Michael, BA Politics with Media, Journalist, Sky Sports News HQ 

  1. Newspaper (national, regional, local press)

Example: The Guardian
Roles: Junior reporter, reporter, news editor, sub-editor, correspondent, feature writer, news ‘producer’, freelance reporter/feature writer

  1. Magazine (print and online)

Example: Bauer Media- Grazia, Closer, Heat
Roles: Feature writer, freelance journalist

  1. Broadcast (radio and TV)

Example: ITV News
Roles: Editor, reporter, presenter/ news anchor, producer, correspondent 

To be a journalist you have to…

  • Get material quickly
  • Treat information sceptically
  • Seek the truth-even when it is difficult
  • Treat your audience and sources with respect
  • Tell a good story
  • Find accurate sources
  • Research the facts

Based on your knowledge, interests or expertise, ranging from politics and fashion to sport or food, journalists often work within a specialised area. You be expected to remain eagle-eyed and quickoff-the-mark to generate engaging stories and ensure that they are reported quickly and accurately.

Although your ultimate goal might be to become a fashion columnist, don’t be disheartened if you initially start off in a different area of journalism. This experience will equip you with the necessary skills should you wish to later continue your pursuit for your desired specialist subject.

Due to the time-sensitive nature of news, a lot of the content for journalism has to be sourced, researched, presented and revised very quickly. This means that you must have a good eye for new stories and a natural flair for creating engaging content. However, some magazines and newspapers publish issues three or four times a year and these require a slightly different skillset. The ability to forge lasting relationships with key people in this industry will prove very beneficial in the long-run, as you will be able to contact them to gain insider-quotes on new stories or help you to become the first to hear about developments within the industry.

Journalists not only report on new stories, they also write feature articles to express an opinion or give an overview of a subject. If your main role is to write feature articles then you would be referred to as a ‘Feature Writer’ or a ‘Columnist.’ Magazines tend to be more feature-driven than

It’s also important to realise the importance of digital technology and digital publishing which offer a much wider distribution of journalistic content. Employers will notice if you have established a good blog or Twitter following, so it is essential to get familiar with online journalism. Video expertise is increasingly in demand among media employers. If you’re good with a camera and can tell a story visually, you’ll immediately have a great advantage.

‘‘For any media related career, it’s essential to be comfortable using software such as Photoshop and web editing/ publishing/content management systems. It’s also essential to be self-motivated and have the initiative to develop your own ideas.’’- Carol, MA English and American Studies, Web and Digital Manager, Turley Associates

Main duties of a newspaper or magazine journalist

  • Respond to breaking stories
  • Conduct interviews
  • Keep up to date with trends
  • Attend events 
  • Liaise with the wider news team, photographers and editors
  • Source stories
  • Produce concise copy to deadlines
  • Create and upload online
  • Source images to accompany written pieces
  • Maintain contacts

‘‘The key skills are being able to absorb and analyse complex information quickly and then communicate that information in clear and concise language.’’- Robert, BA English Literature with Creative Writing, Technology Reporter, Financial Times

Main duties of a broadcast journalist

  • Write scripts for bulletins, headlines and reports
  • Select appropriate locations, pictures and sound to tell a story
  • Identify necessary resources and manage technical crews for location shoots
  • Use portable digital equipment to records and edit material
  • Prepare and present material ‘on air’
  • Identify potential interviewees, brief them and prepare interview questions
  • Decide on the running order for bulletins
  • Collaborate with the editor to put together the programme
  • Develop and maintain local contacts
  • Generate story ideas and follow leads
  • Research, verify and collate evidence

“It takes a lot of research and constant awareness of what is happening in the real and online world. Great knowledge of how social media works is essential. Also, it is very handy to be very nifty at editing and creating great radio content to appeal to all listeners; new and old.” -Hayley, BA Drama, Breakfast Producer and Presenter, More Radio

Most national newspapers, magazines, broadcasting and publishing companies tend to be based in major cities like Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and, particularly, London. But of course, there are opportunities in local newspapers, magazines and radio stations all over the UK. However, freelancers may be required to travel anywhere in the UK, or possibly overseas. A lot of radio broadcasters and freelancers also work from home. Although this can be very inconvenient it requires high levels of self-motivation and some people prefer to separate their home-lives from their workspace. 

Desirable Attributes

  • Persistence
  • A thick skin
  • Tenacity
  • Flair
  • Confidence
  • Accurate proofreading
  • Ability to meet deadlines
  • Time management
  • Organisational skills
  • Excellent written communication skills
  • Imagination
  • Shorthand skills
  • Curiosity
  • Networking skills
  • Research skills
  • Interpersonal communication skills


Journalism is one of the most competitive industries in the UK. Although a degree in English or Journalism is not necessary, a qualification in either of these disciplines will give you an advantage more so than before, as it shows your awareness of the industry. However, this is no substitute for a real passion for writing, reading and maintaining a sharp awareness of current affairs. It is therefore fundamental to get involved in as many opportunities as possible in addition to your course to demonstrate your initiative and ambition.

In most cases taking a degree in a subject that you enjoy, followed by a postgraduate course in journalism is seen as the most beneficial choice for your career; it increases your breadth of knowledge and gives you room to explore other options before committing to journalism. You can
use the time around your undergraduate degree to dip into opportunities, gain some work experience and build up a portfolio of articles to help you apply for a Masters qualification. 

“I’ve taught myself to use the systems that the BBC operates with. I’ve been on some courses to help build on my journalistic knowledge. Many of my colleagues did a Post-Graduate Diploma in Journalism. I didn’t because the BBC took me on as a trainee Journalist.” - Katherine, BA Culture, Literature and Politics, Broadcast Journalist, BBC

Undertaking extra qualifications, such as a postgraduate degree, is a great way to get your foot in the door as a journalist. Take time to consider whether this is a viable option for you. If you are interested in doing so, the make sure to conduct thorough research to make sure you are headed
to the right place. Factors that may influence this include the course, location and quality of tteaching. You may find that you have more job opportunities, as you would have developed a wider range of skills thanks to your extra qualification such as video production, data journalism and financial reporting.

"During my MA in Journalism, I completed an internship at The Spectator and also worked for Sky News during the General Election. After my MA, I began working at a financial news radio station in London called Share Radio, initially as an intern. After a few months I was promoted and it was that experience, reporting on major market and economic news, that led to me being offered a job at Ignites Europe at the Financial Times.” - Robert, BA English Literature with Creative Writing, MA Journalism, Technology Reporter, Financial Times.

Masters are increasingly seen as ‘the way in’ for news and broadcast journalism; they are a great way to make contacts and build up a reputation as a writer. If you’re thinking about doing a masters, ensure that you conduct thorough research. Check whether the course gives you the
opportunity to work on a placement, and that it has been accredited particularly by Creative Skillset, the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), or the Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC).

Be aware that postgraduate courses in journalism are very competitive and expensive, so consider your other options before investing in one. Also, you will still need experience alongside this qualification in order to attain your first post as a journalist. 

Traineeships are a useful way to kickstart your career. They will provide you with in-house desk rotation and give you the hours required to gain accreditation. You will complete tasks such as reporting, writing, editing from the instructions of an editor. But be aware that each traineeship will vary. 

To be a trainee journalist, you are often expected to have basic NCTJ qualifications or a completed university accredited course. You must have good language skills and a fresh, original insight into current affairs. National new and broadcast schemes are highly competitive, so keep an eye out and conduct thorough research on regional organisations who offer their own traineeships. 

Given the changing nature of the industry and the impact of online user-generated content, freelancing is an increasingly popular way to work. It allows you to build up a range of outlets, which can be very lucrative for feature articles and beneficial if you have a knack for finding stories that publishers overlook. It is also possible to freelance outside of news journalism by pitching ideas for feature articles in magazines that take your interest. This may have the added benefit of leading to more work. However, freelancing can be tough if you’re just starting out as you have to build up a reputation and create a series of networks to assist with this. Freelancing requires proactivity, a constant flow of ideas, drive and excellent people-skills. Though it is an unstable lifestyle as a fulltime job, if you freelance on this side, it is an excellent way to gain a different perspective on the sector.

UEA Enterprise can help you navigate the process of freelancing in terms of tax and National Insurance. Don’t worry about not having any contacts; there is a whole community of UEA graduates working in journalism who were in your position once and would be happy to help. It is possible to connect with UEA Alumni by attending events like Working with Words, or applying for the UEA Mentoring Scheme. Both are beneficial through allowing you to get advice on how to enter the industry and how to make the most of your time at university. 

Clubs and Societies

A common vicious circle that students find themselves in is:

‘I need experience to get experience.’

In the competitive and intimidating world of creative industries, opportunities to get into your desired sector can seem sparse at times and unachievable. However, if you persevere, you’ll find that you can create many prospects yourself if you just get writing! 

‘‘Grasp every opportunity given to you and create experiences for yourself. You cannot gain experience if you don’t go out and grab it with both hands. Get involved with as much as you feel you can alongside your studies- study hard but party hard too and enjoy every moment.’’- Hayley, BA Drama, Breakfast Producer and Presenter, More Radio

Use the time around your degree to start a blog, write for the student newspaper Concrete, broadcast on Livewire or UEA TV to get your writing out there. Publishing articles and podcasts or being a broadcast presenter will not only improve your journalistic skills, and get you used to
having your work seen by the public, but it will also build the resources you can use for your portfolio. Through this you can evidence your passion for journalism through your unique style, reveal causes you are most passionate about and start applying for more opportunities in local
newspapers, magazines, radio and TV shows.

When creating a portfolio:

  • Make it accessible
  • Show off a range of skills and styles
  • Evidence both your offline and online work by adding links 
The UEA Media Collective (Concrete, Livewire, UEA TV and independent student magazines) is a great place to start in order to build up your experience in broadcast, newspaper or magazine journalism. You can find more information about these societies and sign up on the UEA Student’s Union website. However, if you’re looking for some external work experience, consider applying to these places:
  • MediaGuardian
  • Press Gazette
  • The Press Association
  • BBC
  • ITV
  • Local Community stations
  • Commercial and local radio stations (Radiocentre)
  • Local newspapers
  • Direct approaches to publications

Search their websites for summer internships, work experience placements, sign up to their vacancies page and make speculative applications. Don’t get discouraged by rejection - this is inevitable in such a competitive industry. Persistence is a virtue, so demonstrate that you have it
and keep applying!

Regional news outlets in Norwich and Norfolk, such as Eastern Daily Press, also offer work experience in a more accessible way for people who live outside of London.

Graduate and trainee schemes can be hard to find, but with an excellent portfolio and a positive attitude, you can write an amazing application and successfully launch your career. Just stay alert and always aim to be ahead. 

Many people start their CV with their university course or credentials. In order to stand out, think of something different that you could include in the first sentence. Perhaps something that you have done or an attribute that you have that makes you unique. Though your course is valuable, focus your CV on vocational activities that you’ve undertaken, your range of relevant skills, your technical abilities and your experience. What have you written? Where have you written? What programmes have you put together?

Show your knowledge of the company. If you’re applying to a local newspaper, demonstrate your understanding of the local area and the sorts of stories that they might cover. If it’s a magazine, evidence your passion for their area of specialism e.g. music, fashion, design. Make them realise
that you understand what their magazine is about and that you have done a lot of research.

Applications with basic spelling or grammar mistakes will be rejected outright, so read, re-read, and read again! Your application is an example of your writing so make it flawless. 

If you are successful in gaining work experience at a magazine, newspaper, or broadcaster then congratulations! But don’t stop yet. Before you start your placement, and if you’re not already doing so, you need to become an avid reader of that company’s publications. It’s also a good idea to think in advance about the story ideas that you might have for that publication. The stories already posted are usually ones which have attracted the best response from their audiences, so these will give you an idea of what the company’s audience is looking for. 

Familiarise yourself with the company. Follow their social media account so that you know the tone they use and how they engage with their audience. This will not only contribute to your awareness of current affairs and how they are told by that newspaper or magazine, but will help you pick up the writing style so that you will quickly ease into creating content. If it’s a newspaper, read it every day and understand who their competitors are.

‘‘A degree on its own is not enough to get a job or make a success of a job. Being able to understand an organisation’s culture and adapt to it is essential for success.’’- Carol, BA English and American Studies, Web and Digital Manager, Turley Associations 

Work experience is a two-way thing. Whilst you will be assisting the newsroom with stories and carrying out useful administrative tasks, it’s also important to be clear about what you want to get out of your experience. Are you hoping to attend conferences, talk to reporters, or spend time on the marketing and social media desk? If so, clarify this over email as soon as your work experience is confirmed. Also, use that as an opportunity to introduce yourself to the people you’re going to be working with, reiterate your excitement to get started, and ask if there is anything else you can do to prepare. Often, there will be nothing they require, but a polite email will demonstrate your initiative and willing. However, don’t over-do the emails. There is a fine line between being keen and being a bit of a nuisance.

Speak to as many people as you can during your work experience; this is a great place to start building contacts and learning about how a publication is put together. Have a chat one-to-one if some employees are free. This will give you the chance to learn more about the different roles within the company and see what appeals more to you and suits your skillset.

‘‘I started out as an unpaid volunteer during my time at UEA. I knocked on the door of the BBC and got offered some work experience in radio, grabbed the chance to gain skills in the industry and gave up a day a week for two years to get my foot in the door of the biggest broadcaster in the world. When I finished university, I’d built up enough skills to pick up some paid shifts. I answered the phone for radio shows, looked after guests, hosted tours around the BBC in Norwich and even operated the autocue for the main TV news presenters. After six months I was offered a full-time job on short term contracts as a Production Assistant at BBC Look East.’’- Katherine, BA Culture, Literature and Politics, Broadcast Journalist, BBC 

Women in Journalism

A networking, campaigning and training organisation, providing guidance and support for women working in print, broadcast and online media. They offer two tailored mentoring schemes.

The George Viner Memorial Fund

Set up to broaden the diversity of journalists working in the British and Irish media. The fund helps Black and ethnic minority students get the training they need to get a job in journalism.

Journalism Diversity Fund

It awards bursaries to people from diverse backgrounds who need help funding their NCTJ journalism training.


There are various grant and funds available for different circumstances and situations. Find the website to see if you are eligible for funding.


Generic online sources offer career information and advice across a range of creative sectors in the UK, with employment/career management support and access to vacancies.
Target jobs 

Professional bodies
Chartered Institute of Journalists
Community Media Association
PA (Press Association) 

Main graduate employers
The Guardian
The Independent
News UK (includes The Sun and The Times)
PA (Press Association)
Telegraph Media Group
Trinity Mirror

Vacancies and Opportunities

News and Magazines
Guardian Jobs
Hold the Front Page
News Media Association
NUJ Careers
Campaign Media Hub
Writers and Artists’ Yearbook

Guardian Jobs
Hold the Front Page
ITV Jobs
Press Gazette

If you would like any careers advice, ranging from applications to further study, CVs and interviews, book an appointment through Career Central with your Careers Advisor. Career Central also offer a wide variety of events throughout the year, and repeatedly update their vacancy page for
volunteering, part time and graduate jobs across the country. Mentoring and internships are also available through Career Central, so make sure you look online or visit them on The Street to find out more.