Scriptwriting Journalist: Career and Salary Facts

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

What Is A Scriptwriting Journalist?

Scriptwriting journalists, also known as screenwriters, turn a simple story or plot idea into a carefully crafted, well-developed script complete with camera angles and scene settings. Scriptwriting services are required in many different areas of media production, such as radio programs, documentaries, theatrical production or television shows. Scriptwriting journalists create the original content, characters and plotlines for these productions, or they also can adapt books or other material for performance. As well as having strong written communication skills and an understanding of scriptwriting principles, these journalists need to be able to use their creativity and take direction from producers.

Learn more about this career from the table below:

Education Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Script writing, creative writing, journalism
Training Required Optional screenwriting workshops
Key Skills Ability to write a great script, ability to revise scripts, prepare scripts for audience
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2% for all writers and authors*
Median Salary (2015) $60,250 for all writers and authors*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Do As A Scriptwriting Journalist?

Scriptwriters prepare written dialogue for movies, television shows and other broadcasts on radio or TV. Some scriptwriters may also write scripts for websites or advertisements. As a scriptwriter, you may work for a broadcasting or production company and collaborate with producers or directors to turn their story ideas into workable scripts. As a freelance scriptwriter, you'll develop your own ideas, characters and plots, research and write scripts, and create a sales pitch for potential buyers. Once it's sold, you'll work with producers or directors to develop it to fit their budget, production capabilities and creative preferences.

What Does The Writing Process Entail?

Whether you're writing a script for an already-conceived plot or developing your own from scratch, scriptwriting is a lengthy process with multiple stages. Before writing a formal script, you'll need to develop its characters and create a general plot - often known as a premise - along with a basic rundown of its development. This initial stage of the writing process is often known as a treatment. For freelance scriptwriters, your premise will serve as the focus of your script when you attempt to sell it, according to the Screenwriters Federation of America, an industry professional association (

Your actual written script often takes two forms - a reading script featuring only dialogue, actions and scene settings, and a shooting script with production cues like camera angles and lighting. Shooting scripts may not be written until immediately before taping or broadcasting, once reading scripts are completely finished. Finalizing a script generally takes numerous rewrites. You'll need to make any changes deemed necessary by producers or directors, which sometimes entails making multiple changes to a minute plot detail, line of dialogue or character action cue. The Screenwriters Federation recommends using professional screenwriting software to streamline this process and keep track of changes.

How Can I Prepare For A Scriptwriting Career?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most scriptwriters enter the industry with experience in related writing-based positions ( Ability to develop and write quality scripts is of paramount importance in this industry, but a college education is often required or preferred for many jobs. Required courses in a bachelor's degree program in scriptwriting or a related area cover topics like film history, fundamentals of screenwriting, screenplay revisions, script analysis and copyright law. You'll also learn how to prepare scripts for specific genres, such as drama, comedy and adaptation, and formats, like television and film. You can also attend screenwriting workshops or conferences; the Screenwriters Federation recommends numerous such programs on their website.

What Is My Earning Potential?

Earnings for scriptwriting journalists can vary widely and be difficult to pinpoint, particularly because many scriptwriters work on a freelance basis. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national 25th-75th percentile salary range for all writers and authors was $42,380 to $84,030 as of May 2015. The BLS also reported that all writers in radio and television earned an average of $59,920 for the same time period. The same source reported that the expected job growth for the 2014-2024 decade for all writers and authors was slower than average at 2%.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are a number of other career options that are suitable for someone with the qualifications to become a scriptwriting journalist. You may want to look into becoming a writer or author, producing articles and other pieces of written original content for a wide variety of publications, including in the form of your own book. The job market for professional writers and authors is very competitive, with many working for multiple publications at once. Another option is to go into copywriting. Copywriters produce original content for companies or organizations in the form of product descriptions, advertising slogans, short articles or company communications. You could also become a journalist, researching and reporting on current news and events.

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