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How difficult is it to get a job as a journalist?

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Robert’s Answer

What is your background in Journalism?

Did you work on the school paper? This type of preview to the world of journalism will assist you in moving into the field.

The best thing to do is see if you have a local paper or TV station that is looking for people!

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Courtney’s Answer

Start small...think big!

It's actually not that hard to get a job as a journalist if you start small.

  • School newspaper (high school & college)
  • small town journalist

Once you get experience, you can then build up and prove yourself and apply for big time journalist jobs.

As an example, my aunt grew up in Houston, Tx and was a journalist for her high school newspaper. She loved it, but never pursued it because she thought she needed to go to college to be a journalist (which she later found out a degree wasn't necessary) Instead, she ended up being a waitress for most of her life.

When she was about 50, she moved to a very small town in Texas where there was a small newspaper that served 5 of the small towns in the area. She got a job as their receptionist. After a while she started attending functions and writing articles that were published in that newspaper, which made her a journalist. By the time she retired she had every job at that newspaper including journalist, office manager, and editor. Had she done that when she was younger, it would have given her the experience to return to Houston and apply for a journalism job with a bigger company.

I see that Clarksburg, TN is also a very small town. With that in mind I'd suggest finding your local newspaper and seeing if you can get an entry level job there or do an internship with them. In small towns, they might even go ahead and let you start writing articles for them. Of course that doesn't mean they'll all be published but at least it will get you the experience.

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James’s Answer

Jeannine, thanks for your question about the difficulty of becoming a journalist.

I’m glad that you are thinking about the process of obtaining a job, so I begin by acknowledging that simply asking this question is a very good first step.  My first reply to your question is that landing a job as a journalist is achievable with the right education, training, and experience.

By becoming more engaged in the steps involved in pursuing a career in journalism, your own understanding is bound to gradually improve. This improved understanding will likely lead you to take the action necessary to obtain this job.

First, when selecting a college to begin your education, seek a school which offers a degree in journalism—not all do. Additionally, upon finding a college with a journalism focus, next seek an academic advisor at this college;  advisors help students understand the requirements to begin a specific academic major, like journalism, as well as help students navigate their way to completion of degree.

As an advisor myself, I encourage you to obtain experience in high school writing for your school paper. I've helped student gain more traction as future journalists and encouraged them to become staff writers on the school paper.

Upon beginning at the community college or university you choose, again seek to become involved on the student paper. This practical experience is instrumental in helping you build the skills that news organizations require of journalists.

So, as you work towards completion of your program, upon earning your journalism degree and with this practical experience you are greatly improving the likelihood of beginning in this career field.

Hope that information was helpful for you, Jeannine. 

James recommends the following next steps:

Research colleges in your area which offer a journalism major
Seek an advising session with the academic advisor for journalism for this college
Seek experience on your school paper

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Tom’s Answer

Hi, I agree with all the other comments. But here's a place to look for careers in journalism you might not have considered. There are thousands of print and online publications for trade/professional organizations. They need folks with journalism as well. And there is very likely a publication in an area of significant interest to you. To find lists of these look in a directory called Standard Rate and Data Service. Good luck.