Journalists research and produce stories for websites, print, radio, television and other forms of media for social and commercial purposes.
Journalists usually earn
$42K-$85K per year
Source: Trade Me Jobs and TVNZ, 2018.
Pay for journalists varies depending on experience, location and the type of media they work in.
Journalists usually earn $42,000 to $85,000 a year.
Journalists may also get allowances for working evenings or public holidays, and overtime pay.
Senior investigative journalists working in broadcasting can earn over $100,000 a year.
Sources: Trade Me Jobs, 2018; Television New Zealand, 2018.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Journalists may do some or all of the following:
- find and collect news about local or international events and issues
- research and write stories
- interview people and record interviews
- shoot and edit photographs and videos
- present stories on radio or television.
Skills and knowledge
Journalists need to have:
- excellent interviewing and reporting skills
- excellent writing skills
- general knowledge of local, national and international affairs
- in-depth knowledge of the area they are covering or specialising in
- research skills
- social and communication skills
- knowledge of media ethics and law
- photography and videography skills.
- often work shifts, including early mornings, evenings, weekends and public holidays
- work in newsrooms and offices, and on location
- work in conditions that may be stressful due to deadlines, or distressing if reporting unpleasant events
- may need to work outside in all weather conditions
- may travel locally, nationally and internationally to cover stories.
What's the job really like?
A hunger for news
Zaryd Wilson has always had an interest in news, so when it came time to decide what career to pursue the choice was obvious.
"Since I was young, I’ve always been interested in news. I’ve always read newspapers and watched news on TV. I think it was actually the 9/11 attacks that got me right into it. I remember keeping a scrapbook of all the news articles on that when I was 12 or 13."
Lots of variety
Working as a journalist means that no day is the same. You’re always talking to new people and exploring new topics.
"I enjoy the massive variety of stuff you get to talk to people about and then write about. You get a very broad picture of your city and of the world. But it can be very stressful sometimes when you’ve got deadlines and a short amount of time to get the information out there."
Important to be proactive
If you want to be a journalist, you’ve got to go for it and make the most of every opportunity you get.
"You’ve got to be really proactive. You’ve got to really want to do it. Even when you’re studying, take all the opportunities you can to write stories. The quickest way to learn and to get your name out there is just by doing it."
To become a journalist you usually need to have a relevant tertiary qualification such as a Bachelor of Communication or a New Zealand Diploma in Journalism.
A driver's licence is usually required.
A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include te reo Māori, English, media studies, design and visual communication, digital technologies, and languages.
Journalists need to be:
- enquiring, curious, persistent and patient, with excellent communication skills
- confident and motivated
- good at relationship management
- able to accept criticism
- good at time management
- able to work well under pressure.
It can be very stressful sometimes when you’ve got deadlines and a short amount of time to get the information out there.
Useful experience for journalists includes:
- all types of writing experience
- radio, television or video work
- work involving interviewing people.
Radio and television journalists need to have clear voices.
Find out more about training
- New Zealand Broadcasting School, Ara Institute of Canterbury
- (03) 940 7546 - www.nzbs.com
- Journalism Education Association of New Zealand
- Massey University
- 0800 627 739 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.massey.ac.nz
- University of Auckland
- 0800 61 62 63 - email@example.com - www.auckland.ac.nz
- University of Canterbury
- (03) 369 3999 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.canterbury.ac.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Falling demand for print journalists, but stable demand for online journalists
Journalist vacancies are limited, and competition for them can be strong.
- falling for print journalists due to newspaper closures and declining circulations
- hard to come by for television and radio journalists because New Zealand’s broadcasting industry is small.
However, demand for online journalists is stable. Internet news sites often contract freelance journalists, but work may not be regular.
According to the Census, 1,197 print journalists, 219 radio journalists, and 219 television journalists worked in New Zealand in 2018.
More journalist opportunities for graduates of courses that include work placement
Opportunities are best for experienced journalists.
If you are starting out as a journalist, your chances of getting a job are strongest if you:
- have completed a Bachelor’s degree, diploma, graduate certificate or postgraduate diploma in journalism, public relations or communications, and your course included work placements
- approach employers directly
- develop relationships with other journalists and industry contacts
- write for free to start with, and build up a portfolio of work
- look for work at smaller regional and community newspapers, where staff turnover is higher.
Small range of employers
Journalists work for:
- online news sites
- newspaper and magazine publishing businesses
- radio networks
- television networks and production companies.
- Casey, J, people and talent consultant, Television New Zealand, careers.govt.nz interview, May 2018.
- Edmunds, S, and Pullar-Strecker, T, 'Stuff to Sell or Close 28 Community and Rural Newspapers', Stuff, 21 February 2018, (www.stuff.co.nz).
- Lang, S, freelance journalist, careers.govt.nz interview, February 2018.
- Nielsen, D, journalism lecturer, New Zealand Broadcasting School, careers.govt.nz interview, 8 October 2019.
- Stats NZ, '2018 Census', 2019.
- Williams, D, 'The Future of Newspapers', Newsroom, 8 January 2018, (www.newsroom.co.nz).
- Wilson, Z, chief reporter, Whanganui Chronicle, careers.govt.nz interview, February 2018.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Journalists may progress to become editors or chief reporters. Many journalists move into communications or public relations roles.
Journalists may specialise in:
- broadcasting, including radio or television work
- print media, including working for newspapers or magazines
- web journalism, including audio and video work.
Last updated 28 August 2020