Sunday, 16 May 2010

The Sunday Times on how to get a job as a journalist

There’s a great piece in today’s Sunday Times Magazine by Ed Caeser on the prospects for the tens of thousands of journalism and media graduates now looking for increasingly rare jobs.

You’ll find the full article, Hold the front page I want to be on it, here  (quick, before it goes behind the paywall)
First some stats from the piece
There are:

  • 8,095 students on undergraduate journalism courses.
  • 1,870 on postgrad courses
  • 25,335 undergraduates and 
  • 2,905 postgrads on media studies courses.

The piece doesn’t say how many jobs they are chasing, but there are 1,200 newspapers and about 9,000 magazines.

So that’s the context, here are the key points Ed makes:

 “The most sensible path into print journalism now is through the postgraduate journalism diplomas, particularly at City University and Cardiff University — where there are three applicants for every place — but a qualification is no guarantee of a job.” 

However: “Journalism is, to a large degree, a business where qualifications are less important than skills. Editors rarely care where you went to school, or university, or what training you received, as long as you can do the business.”

“You’ll need luck, flair, an alternative source of income, endless patience, an optimistic disposition, sharp elbows and a place to stay in London. But the essential quality for success now is surely tenacity.”

“1,200 people ... applied in September for one reporter’s position on the new Sunday Times website. You’d shoot a horse with those odds.”

“No two career stories are the same… Many graduates simply turn up on work experience and refuse to leave. It worked for me.”

“Journalism remains a meritocracy only to those who can afford it. Because work experience is so important, almost all aspiring journalists need to work in London, for free, at some point in their careers. Not everyone has the wherewithal to do this.”

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