Build your job resume today with our free tool
Resume Surgeon > Resume Surgeon Advice > Industry Spotlight > Industry Spotlight: How to Become a News Journalist

Becoming a News Journalist can be difficult because there is a huge amount of competition and limited jobs.

Emily Roberts, a Chief Reporter, shares her experience as a Journalist and tells Resume Surgeon what she thinks makes the ideal candidate.

How Did You Know You Wanted to be a Journalist?

I always loved writing at school and I remember doing an assignment where I had to write a newspaper article. I loved the experience of interviewing people and writing the article and I think that was the moment when I decided I wanted to become a Journalist.

In Your Opinion, Is Going to University Essential?

I think going to University really helped develop the skills I needed to become a Journalist. Because the course I did was multi-media it gave me a flavour of newspaper, magazine and broadcast Journalism which helped me to decide what path to follow when I finished. I was also able to take professional Journalism qualifications as part of the course, which were essential for getting a job as a Reporter. But I could have achieved these without taking a University degree. I’m glad I went to University as I think it would have been harder to get a job without the guidance and skills I gained doing the course.

What Did You Do After University?

When I finished University I did quite a lot of work experience and paid freelance work including at the Daily Express, the Telegraph magazine, Channel 4 Dispatches and BBC Radio Berkshire. I did all of this before I found something permanent. My first full-time job was at the Epping Forest Guardian in Essex. I trained as a Reporter and took qualifications to become a Senior Reporter. After that a position came up at the Basingstoke Gazette, which is the local paper in my home town. It was a great opportunity to work for a paper where I grew up as I know the area so well. I started as a Senior Reporter, focusing on education, before being promoted to Chief Reporter.

What is a Day in Your Job Like?

My job on a day-to-day basis is never the same, which is what I love about it. I mainly write stories for the paper, anything from human interest to hard news. This involves conducting interviews, either over the phone or face-to-face and attending the scene if something major has happened such as a fire. I also spend time chasing up stories, covering council meetings and court cases. But I also step in to help the Editor or News Editor and this includes editing and putting through the other reporters’ stories, taking calls on the news desk phone, allocating stories out to the other reporters and reading through all the pages as they are completed by the subs. Occasionally I get the chance to review theatre shows and write restaurant reviews too.

What is the Best Thing About Your Job?

I love that it is different everyday and I never know what to expect. The people I work with are great, and there is a lot of office banter which makes it fun whether I am working in or out of the office. The novelty of attending film premiers will never wear off and I love the excitement of walking down the red carpet and watching a film before anyone else, then having the privilege of sharing my opinion with others. I love meeting different and interesting people and hearing their stories. I also love the randomness of my job and the experiences I have had – from flying in a hot air balloon and learning the tango to climbing up a huge oak tree! I never know what I might be asked to do next! But I think, above all else, I just love writing. I feel so lucky to be able to do that on a daily basis, because that’s the real reason I became a journalist.

What Is The Worst Part of your Job?

Covering upsetting stories. There has been the odd occasion where I have had to go to someone’s funeral to report on it and it’s really tough not to get upset.

What Career Advice Would You Give to Someone Wanting to be a Journalist?

The best advice I can offer is to gain as much experience as possible and to take every opportunity when you are starting out. I took any work experience I could, which not only helped me put the skills I had learned into practice, but it helped me to build up contacts and it meant I had published work to show when I was interviewed for my first job.

You Must Receive Resumes On a Daily Basis – What Advice Would You Give to Someone Writing Their Resume?

When people send in resumes looking for work experience I think it’s important to find out the name of the person you are sending it to. It shows you’ve bothered to make the effort and someone is more likely to take the time to read it if it’s addressed to them. It’s also so important to check through covering letters and resumes. There is nothing worse than seeing a spelling mistake. Target the resume or letter to the job/work experience you are applying for, rather than sending the same generic letter to everyone.

Get started with our free resume service! Try it today!