What Does a Day in the Life of a Journalist Look Like?

From covering breaking news to researching features, journalists have a lot of variety in their day-to-day work. If you’re thinking of becoming a journalist, you might be wondering what a day in the life of a journalist looks like. Are you likely to spend most of your time writing or will you be conducting a lot of interviews. The answer will depend on your specific role but most journalists do a combination of the following things:

Staying on top of news trends

Since journalism is all about what’s happening in the moment, one of the key parts of any journalist’s day is to stay on top of news trends by checking newswires such as the Associated Press or Reuters and social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Doing this throughout the day allows journalists to come up with and editorial plan and assign reporters to stories that need to be covered.

Researching stories

Once a journalist has their assignment, they’re responsible for conducting in-depth research into the story. This includes identifying potential sources, fact checking numbers, dates and other important pieces of information and doing contextual research to find out related news items that should be referenced in the final piece.

Interviewing people

Another important part of a journalist’s day is to go out and interview people. This can include talking to voters outside of a polling station when covering an election, interviewing medical experts about a new advancement in medicine or chatting with a celebrity about their latest film. Whatever the context of the story, journalists are responsible for getting the information straight from the source and then synthesizing this information into a story that they can share with the public.

Writing and editing

After researching the story and conducting interviews, journalists spend time identifying the key points of the story and creating a structure for it. They then use the information they’ve gathered to add detail and color to the story and to make it as informative as possible before sending it to an editor for review and publication.

An exciting and challenging career path, journalism offers recent grads the opportunity to be at the frontline of breaking news while also helping them develop engaging storytelling skills. To find out if being a journalist is right for you, consider doing an internship with a news or media outlet.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as Getting an Entry-Level Job With No Experience and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?

What is a Journalism Major and is it Right for Me?

Have you always been a natural writer? Do you love being persistent when talking to people? If you enjoy getting to the truth of a matter as well as putting in the work to research, write and edit stories about issues around the globe, the world of journalism may be for you.

What is a journalism major?

Majoring in journalism is a fast-paced endeavor, where you’ll be quickly learning the ins and outs of how to write a variety of different types of stories on many different topics. You’ll often be sent out into the field to work on your own, and you’ll have to come back with polished articles on quick, hard deadlines.

Is it right for me?

If the idea of getting to research, write and edit stories sounds great to you, here are several key questions to consider before you commit to majoring in journalism.

  • Do I feel confident in my basic writing, research and editing skills?
  • Am I someone who likes to spend lots of time fact-checking my work and making sure every detail is correct?
  • Do I like reaching out to people (often through cold calls or emails) to interview them for a story? Am I persistent in following up with people to get what I want?
  • Am I okay with not everyone liking a story I publish? How do I react to backlash?
  • Am I able to handle and incorporate criticism and feedback from my professors and peers? Do I have a thick skin when it comes to my writing?
  • Am I okay doing lots of my research, writing and editing by myself?
  • Am I good at multitasking and working on multiple stories on a variety of topics at once?
  • Will I dedicate myself to getting internships and jobs through college that will further my level of experience?

What can I do with a journalism degree?

Often people say that journalism is a dying field, but that can’t be further from the truth. While traditional print journalism might not be in the same place it was several decades ago, it is still relevant. Additionally, digital journalism has become more and more prevalent, and there are many different jobs out there for people with a journalism degree.

There are also many people with journalism degrees who work on the opposite side of the industry in public relations roles, pitching ideas and stories to journalists on behalf of clients.

Some potential career options include becoming a journalist, blogger, social media manager, broadcast journalist, communications manager, publicist, marketing manager, advertising copywriter, multimedia reporter, photographer and editor.

What do journalists earn?

Journalism is a field where salaries vary greatly based on where you’re located, what your official title is and the type of company you work for (for instance, a bootstrapped media startup versus and established magazine brand). Starting salaries typically run between $25,000 to $40,000 depending on those factors.

Many journalists also choose to go the freelance route, which affects your income from month to month. This doesn’t mean you can’t make a comfortable living; it just means that your salary won’t be consistent every single month, and some months may be tighter financially than others.

If you do choose to pursue a career in journalism rather than something like public relations or marketing, you’ll most likely be on the lower end of the salary spectrum, around $35,000 to $40,000 per year.


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Types of Internships for Journalism Majors

For those majoring in journalism, there is no better way to explore potential career options than by taking on an internship. Internships for journalism majors are wide-ranging, giving you the hands-on experience you need and an in-depth look at the industry of your choice. Best of all, internships are a great way of getting one step closer to your dream job.

Here are some of the most common internships for journalism majors:

Journalism intern

As a journalism intern for a newspaper, magazine or a digital media property, you’ll learn how to produce engaging content that fits the style and tone of your publication. During your internship, you’ll take on projects such as conducting interviews, uploading website content and managing the company’s social media accounts. You may also be offered the opportunity to write articles which you can add to your portfolio. If you’re considering a career in journalism, this is the internship for you.

Editorial intern

An editorial internship is similar to a journalistic one except that it’s not always affiliated with a traditional publication. As an editorial intern, you might be hired by a PR company, a startup or a nonprofit to develop content for their website. During your internship, you’ll be responsible for writing content, sourcing photos and crafting posts that can be used across the company’s social channels. You’ll contribute to strategy designed to increase the organization’s internet presence. In addition to researching, writing, editing and creating outlines for new articles, you’ll also monitor feedback and statistics for blog posts and assist with SEO strategy. This is a great internship for anyone who wants to learn as much as possible about digital media and to develop solid editorial skills along the way.

Content marketing intern

A content marketing internship is perfect for journalism majors who are looking to work closely with marketing, advertising and PR teams. From writing content for the company’s website to organizing and researching information for the organization’s newsletter, you’ll be participating in most aspects of content marketing and sharpening your copywriting skills along the way. During your internship, you’ll also get a chance to research, outline and write blog posts relevant to your company’s target audience as well as writing press releases for new campaigns. This is a wonderful internship for anyone interesting in going into marketing after graduation.

Social media intern

As a social media intern, you’ll assist in crafting social media posts and monitor the impact of those posts across different social channels. You’ll also get hands-on experience with social media tools like Google Analytics and HootSuite, as well as learning how to use metrics to optimize campaigns. This is a great internship for journalism majors interested in developing creative social campaigns and engaging users in the process.

Copywriting intern

A copywriting internship is all about writing engaging material and maintaining good communication with your team. As a copywriting intern, you’ll gain hands-on experience writing brochures, reports and marketing materials. You’ll also assist with drafting and editing blog posts, news articles and website content. Last but not least, you’ll learn how to monitor marketing and media trends and modify your writing style to suit your audience. This a wonderful internship for anyone interested in advertising or marketing.

Broadcast intern

As a broadcast intern for a TV or radio station, you’ll get to observe the planning, operation and execution of a TV show, radio program or podcast. Your responsibilities could range from administrative duties like researching and fact-checking news stories to more advanced tasks like booking guests, developing scripts and putting together press releases. If you’re interested in learning about broadcasting, this could be the right internship for you.

Whether you’re interning at a famous digital media company or writing copy for a small tech startup, a journalism internship will give you the skills you need to succeed in your first job after graduation.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What is a Journalism Major and is it Right for Me? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as What is an Entry-Level Job?

Types of Entry-Level Jobs for Journalism Majors

Being a journalism major is a great way to build communication and storytelling skills. These skills that can be applied to any number of professional industries and having them will make you a competitive candidate in whatever career you choose to pursue. If you’ve already taken on a journalism internship during your time in college, then you know that a journalism degree can open up the door to plenty of career opportunities.

Here are some of the most common entry-level jobs for journalism majors:


As a reporter, your primary responsibilities will be to researching and report on news stories. In this role, you’ll be conducting interviews, writing articles, fact-checking and networking. If you enjoy knowing about news stories right as they happen and are comfortable working with tight deadlines, this role could be a perfect fit for you.

Editorial Assistant

As an editorial assistant, you’ll be putting your speaking and writing skills to use. In this role, you’ll assist in all stages of the publishing process from helping to get stories commissioned to ensuring that writers submit their work on time. This is a role that can vary greatly depending on whether you’re working at a publishing house, a print magazine, a gossip website or a company newsletter but regardless of the publication you’re working for, you’ll be helping to curate content that is relevant to that publication. To succeed in this role, you’ll need excellent organizational skills, attention-to-detail and a passion for learning the ins and outs of publishing and digital media.

Copy editor

A copy editor plays a crucial role in the production of any print or digital publication and is responsible for ensuring that the final copy does not contain any typos or grammatical errors. As a copy editor, you’ll be on the lookout for omissions and inconsistencies in the articles you edit, as well as ensuring that the content you’re working with adheres to the particular style of the publication you’re working on. This is a wonderful role for anyone who is detail-oriented and passionate about showcasing great stories in the best possible light.

Digital Content Writer

As a digital content writer, you’ll be working with the editorial and creative higher-ups to bring marketing campaigns and strategies to life. You’ll also contribute to SEO-friendly content and develop ideas for future marketing content. This is a perfect role for a good communicator who is interested in writing engaging content.

Communications Coordinator

Your journalism major can also come in handy when it comes to landing a role as a communications coordinator, a role that involves coordinating a company’s promotional materials and social media activity, as well as building and maintaining relationships with media outlets. From writing press releases to organizing and overseeing promotional events, a communications coordinator strengthens the communication between the client, the company’s customers and the media. This is a great role for anyone interested in helping companies develop their public presence.

Being a journalism major will give you the skills you need to become a competitive candidate in almost any industry. The key to finding an entry-level job that works for you is knowing what you’re passionate about and what you can expect from the role. By having a solid understanding of some of the most common job opportunities for journalism majors, you’ll be one step closer to landing your dream job.

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What is a Journalist?

A popular career path for those interested in writing and digital media, journalism offers recent grads the opportunity to learn about all aspects of news-focused writing in areas including politics, travel and lifestyle. If you’re considering becoming a journalist, you might be wondering what this career path entails and whether it could be a good fit for you.

Here are some of the key things you need to know about being a journalist.

What is a journalist?

Working for a newspaper, magazine or news outlet, a journalist is someone who reports on current events by gathering relevant information and then presenting that information to the public. Depending on their specialty, journalists can be writers, TV reporters, photo or video journalists, each using their specific medium to craft engaging stories that resonate with the public while delivering important information.

What does a journalist do?

From covering the latest news at New York Fashion Week to reporting on presidential elections, journalists are responsible for identifying topics that are important to the public and then coming up with well-researched stories on those topics. A broad field that covers many specialist areas — including technology, politics, breaking news, entertainment and lifestyle — journalism is essentially a form of storytelling based on facts and information.

What are the challenges of being a journalist?

A notoriously fast-paced field, journalism definitely has some challenges. These include long hours (after all, news never sleeps), high competition for jobs and a constantly-shifting media landscape that requires journalists to consistently learn about new technologies and new forms of reporting. In addition to these challenges, journalism is also not a very high-paid profession — at least not in the beginning — meaning that journalists often work long hours without much financial reward.

What are the benefits of being a journalist?

Although journalism definitely has its fair share of challenges, it also has a lot of benefits including the excitement of being among the first to know when a big news story is about to break, the potential to travel in order to cover a story and the chance to meet exciting and interesting people from all over the world.

What is a typical salary for a journalist?

A typical entry-level journalist salary is approximately $36,000, with senior reporters typically earning upwards of $70,000 and senior-level editors — such as managing editors and executive editors — earning upwards of $90,000.

An exciting and rapidly evolving field, journalism has a lot to offer recent grads. The best way to find out if being a journalist is right for you is by doing an internship and getting a hands-on feel for the role.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Set Great Internship or Job Goals and find answers to common interview questions such as What Motivates You?

How to Become a Journalist

An exciting and fast-paced career, journalism is a great fit for recent grads who are interested in current events and passionate about storytelling. If you’re considering a career as a journalist, then you’re probably wondering how to get started. For example, is there anything you can do to hone your writing skills and get employers to notice you? Absolutely!

Here are the steps to take if you want to become a journalist.

Earn your bachelor’s degree

One of the keys to starting a career in journalism is earning your bachelor’s degree. Depending on the type of journalism you want to pursue (for example, investigative journalism or broadcast journalism), you should pick a major that will help you learn about that specific type of journalism while also giving you a sense of the broader journalistic landscape. Majors to consider include journalism, communications and English.

Pro Tip: If you’re interested in reporting on a particular subject, such as politics or technology, consider taking on a double major or a minor. This will help you develop specialist knowledge of your subject while also giving your the reporting skills you need to succeed in the field.

Develop your writing skills

In addition to getting your bachelor’s degree, it’s important to hone your writing skills by writing extensively across a broad range of subjects. There are two great ways to do this: 1) By starting a blog where you can develop your voice as a writer and 2) By pitching and writing articles on a freelance basis. This will help you build up your portfolio while also helping you grow your professional network.

Pro Tip: Creating a personal website is another good way to showcase your work and establish an online presence. This is quick and easy to set up with templates like those found in WordPress and Squarespace and will make you stand out from the crowd when it’s time to find a job.

Establish connections with reporters and editors

Networking is important in any field and it’s especially important in communications-focused fields like journalism that rely on strong professional networks. The best way to approach networking is by reaching out to reporters and editors you admire and asking them to set up a time to chat (either on the phone or in person). Once you connect with them, tell them a bit about your experience and professional goals and ask them for any advice that can help you get started.

Pro Tip: Always follow up after a meeting or phone call to let the person know that you appreciate their time and that you found value in the meeting. This is a great way to keep the relationship going and to develop a long-term connection.

Intern with a newspaper, magazine or media company

An important step in any journalism career, an internship will help you gain exposure to the field while also giving you a feel for what a the day-to-day life of a journalist looks like. As an intern, you’ll be fact-checking stories, collaborating on story ideas and and maybe even helping with the final editing before the piece gets published.

With new publications continuing to pop up on an almost daily basis, the field of journalism has many opportunities for recent grads. By following these steps, you’ll be sure to set yourself up for success as you begin your career as a journalist.

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