Newspaper Journalist: Job Duties, Career Outlook, and Educational Requirements

Research what it takes to become a newspaper journalist. Learn about educational requirements, job duties, career outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Digital Marketing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Newspaper Journalist?

Newspaper journalists use investigative reporting, editing and writing skills to produce newsworthy stories. Investigative reporting typically involves researching topics and stories, interviewing people with information about the story and forming relationships with experts or consultants on the subject.

Newspaper journalists must then take this information and present it in a way that is easy for readers to understand and prepare the story for publication in the newspaper. They may need to update or follow-up on stories if new information becomes available. Since most newspapers now have online versions in addition to hardcopies, newspaper journalists may need to produce content for the online newspaper as well. The following table gives you a glance at what you need to know about becoming a newspaper journalist.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Journalism
Key Skills Interviewing and analyzing sources, writing compelling stories, completing assignments on deadline
Job Growth (2014-2024) 8% decline for all types of reporters and correspondents*
Average Salary (2015) $46,560 for all types of reporters and correspondents*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are My Newspaper Journalist Job Duties?

As a newspaper journalist, you may work in newsrooms and in the field, taking notes, cultivating sources, analyzing events and quickly writing accurate articles. You may investigate background information to try to find the story behind the story in the face of approaching deadlines. The types of stories that you'll be covering may vary since some newspaper journalists are given general assignments, special assignments or a regular beat to cover. Other newspaper journalists focus on a specific category of news, such as politics, foreign affairs, sports or finances.

What Is My Career Outlook?

According the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs in the reporting field, including newspaper journalism, were expected to decline by 8% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Improving technology could stimulate job growth for online newspapers, while positions for larger, national newspaper markets are likely to be highly contested.

The average annual salary for reporters, such as newspaper journalists, was $46,560 as of 2015, reported the BLS. However, those working in the independent artists, writers and performers industry earned a higher mean salary of $65,940 per year.

What Are My Educational Requirements?

As an aspiring newspaper journalist, you can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from one of the programs accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. As a student in one of these 4-year programs, you'll typically take coursework in writing, editing, communication and public relations. You may also have classes in advertising, media laws, ethics and online journalism.

Work experience gained through internships, college publications and summer jobs is a necessary addition to an undergraduate degree in the competitive newspaper journalism field. You may give yourself further opportunities for career advancement by developing expertise in a reporting specialty. Graduate degrees are also available, and they may give you an advantage for management or editing jobs.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are several similar careers that involve writing and require a bachelor's degree. Editors review written work and approve it for publication. Technical writers produce written content for complex or detailed subjects, like information that would be found in an instruction manual. Writers and authors have more flexibility to create written content for a wide variety of media, such as books, songs, blogs or movie scripts.

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