How to Become a Newspaper Journalist in 5 Steps

Read what it takes to become a newspaper journalist. Learn about education requirements, work responsibilities, salary and the job outlook to see if this is the career for you. Schools offering Digital Marketing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Newspaper Journalist Do?

Newspaper journalists typically work for newspapers, magazines, and online publications. They are responsible for investigating and reporting stories that are of interest to the readers of the publication they work for. They may interview witnesses, research data related to the story, and may travel as part of their duties. They substantiate the information they gather through reliable sources and then collect that information together in articles that are published online or in print. Newspaper journalists often work closely with editors as they develop a story, and may also work with photojournalists or photographers who capture images to support their report. Before publication they must review their work and make any corrections or changes required by their editor.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Journalism, communications, English
Key Skills Strong written and verbal communication, accuracy, organizational skills, objectivity
Job Growth (2014-2024)- 8%* (for reporters and correspondents)
Average Salary (2015) $46,560* (for reporters and correspondents)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Newspaper Journalist?

A newspaper journalist is responsible for reporting the news in an accurate and unbiased way through well-written and well-researched articles. Journalists typically spend their time writing and editing articles, interviewing sources and conducting research. As a journalist, you'll have the opportunity to work in a variety of places, from small-town, local publications to nationally recognized newspapers.

Step 1: Research Newspaper Journalists' Career Duties and Education

Newspaper journalists provide the public with news on topics such as politics, culture, sports and entertainment. Newspaper journalists may cover breaking news, conduct in-depth investigations and interview public figures. Many newspaper journalists develop contacts and research stories within a particular beat, such as politics, sports or crime. Most newspaper editors seek newspaper journalists who hold bachelor's degrees, typically in journalism or communications.

Step 2: Work for a Publication at Your High School

Aspiring newspaper journalists can hone their writing skills at high school newspapers, yearbooks or literary magazines. These publications also introduce students to other journalism skills, such as editing, photography, layout and design. Local daily newspapers may offer opportunities for high school students, including job shadowing or teen-produced news pages.

Step 3: Begin a Bachelor's Degree Program

While many aspiring newspaper journalists major in journalism or mass communications, others may major in a related field, such as English. Large newspapers may seek newspaper journalists with degrees in specialty areas, such as arts, business, economics or political science. Regardless of the major you choose, it would be helpful to take some journalism courses. Along with studying basic writing and reporting, you would study magazine writing, feature writing, interviewing and media law. Electives within journalism school could help you decide which avenue of newspaper work interests you, such as news, features or sports.

Step 4: Work for Your College or Local Newspaper and Pursue a Newspaper Internship

Writing opportunities outside the classroom, such as working for a college or local newspaper, can improve your interviewing, researching and writing skills while you develop the writing samples needed to apply for that first reporting job. An internship could introduce you to all aspects of a newsroom and allow you to work with and learn from seasoned journalists.

Step 5: Join Professional Organizations

An important part of any career is meeting, interacting and networking with peers through professional organizations. The American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Society of Professional Journalists offer valuable resources for new and seasoned journalists. As a member of these organizations, you can attend conferences and gain access to job boards and industry publications.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Editors may also work for newspapers, magazines and online publications; however, they focus more on generating story ideas, assigning stories to reporters and reviewing content to ensure that all errors are corrected and all facts are substantiated. They are required to have a bachelor's degree. Public relations specialists also need to have a bachelor's degree, and they compile information into reports, speeches and publications that are intended to generate a desired impression of a company, individual or agency. Technical writers perform research and write content, like newspaper reporters; however, they focus on things like how-to manuals and instructional materials. A bachelor's degree is required for this vocation.

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