Journalists research and produce stories for print, radio, television, websites and other forms of media for social and commercial purposes.
Journalists usually earn
$30K-$75K per year
Source: Featured, 'The 2015 Journalist Pay Survey', 2015.
Pay for journalists usually depends on the media they work in, their level of experience and the size of the business they work for.
- Entry level journalists usually earn $30,000 to $45,000 a year.
- Mid-level journalists usually earn between $46,000 and $55,000.
- Senior journalists can earn between $63,000 and $75,000, or more if they are very experienced.
Journalists may also get allowances for working evenings or public holidays, as well as overtime pay.
Source: Featured, 'The 2015 Journalist Pay Survey', 2015.
(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 gather news about local or overseas events, which may involve covering a specific subject area or attending a particular event
- research and write stories
- interview people and record interviews
- discuss work with editors, other colleagues and producers
- talk to company lawyers about any legal issues relating to stories
- take photographs and record videos
- ask questions of the state and/or other institutions and report on official information on behalf of the public
- present stories on radio or television in a natural and confident way.
Skills and knowledge
Journalists need to have:
- excellent interviewing and reporting skills
- excellent writing skills, including good knowledge of grammar
- a good general knowledge of local, national and international affairs
- an in-depth knowledge of the area they are covering or specialising in
- an awareness of what people are interested in
- research skills, including knowledge of where to find specialised information
- technical proficiency
- social and communication skills
- knowledge of media ethics and law, including libel, defamation, broadcasting standards, privacy and copyright.
Photography and videography skills may also be useful.
- often work shifts, including early mornings, evenings, weekends and public holidays
- work mainly in newsrooms and offices and sometimes elsewhere such as in court rooms
- work in conditions that may be stressful due to deadlines, or distressing if reporting unpleasant events such as accidents
- may need to work outside in all weather conditions
- may travel locally, nationally and internationally to cover stories.
What's the job really like?
Web Editor/Multimedia Journalist
What does your job involve?
"As a web editor, I look after the newspaper's online content. I have to make sure we've got our stories online quickly. I also create and process pictures, video, audio and other content to go on The Dominion Post and Stuff websites. Those are skills I've taught myself, and they are what we call multimedia journalism."
So, is old-fashioned journalism dead?
"Not at all – we still have to remember the basics. The basics of the job is still very personal – it's still about telling stories.
"Even if you're making the most amazing video, it still needs to be accurate and the story still needs to be well told. And I think it always will be that way."
Any tips for would-be journalists?
"You don't often see jobs advertised, so you have to really apply yourself when looking for work. Be willing to work for free at first, to get your foot in the door.
"Being able to teach yourself is important, because there's only so much that can be covered in the journalism school classroom. The rest has to come from you – you just have to play with things and figure them out for yourself."
There are no specific entry requirements to become a journalist.
However, most employers look for qualifications such as:
- a Bachelor's degree or diploma in journalism or broadcasting
- a Bachelor's degree in communications, majoring in journalism
- a Bachelor's degree that requires writing skills such as a history degree.
To work as a reviewer or critic, you require good knowledge of your subject area and excellent writing skills. Most reviewers and critics work on a voluntary basis until they've built up a portfolio of published writing.
A driver's licence is an advantage for most jobs.
A tertiary entrance qualification is usually required to enter further training. Useful subjects include English, history, maths and media studies.
Journalists need to be:
- enquiring, curious, persistent and patient, with excellent communication skills
- confident and motivated
- able to accept criticism
- good at time management
- able to work well under pressure to tight deadlines.
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
- Journalism Education Association of New Zealand (JEANZ)
- email@example.com - www.jeanz.org.nz/
- Competenz Industry Training Organisation
What are the chances of getting a job?
Highly competitive market with few vacancies
There are limited vacancies for full time permanent jobs as journalists and competition for them is high. Chances of getting an entry level journalism job are better if you approach employers directly and show your motivation to work hard.
Web and blog writers often freelance
Internet news and blog hosting sites often contract freelance journalists. Work for online freelance journalists may be infrequent, which means it can be hard to make a living. Chances of getting work as an online journalist are better if you start writing for free and build up a portfolio of work.
Opportunities best for print journalists at regional newspapers
Chances of getting work in print journalism are better at smaller regional and community newspapers, where turnover is higher. Employers can also struggle to attract staff to smaller towns.
Range of employers
Journalists work for:
- newspaper and magazine publishing businesses
- radio networks
- television networks and production companies
- online news and blog sites.
- Cooke, H, online reporter, Fairfax Media, Careers New Zealand interview, September 2016.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
- Maisey, W, assistant content director, MediaWorks, Careers New Zealand interview, September, 2016.
- Stone, E, freelance writer, Careers New Zealand interview, September 2016.
Progression and specialisations
Journalists usually start out working for a small media outlet, such as a community newspaper or radio station, before progressing to working for larger organisations.
They can also move on to become editors or chief reporters and many eventually move into communications or public relations roles.
Journalists may specialise in:
- broadcasting, which includes radio or television work
- print media, which includes working for newspapers or magazines
- web journalism, which includes website content, blogs and using audio and video.
Last updated 12 June 2017