New guest blog: Adventures in journalism job hunting

Here new Press Gazette guest blogger and undergraduate journalism student Jon Vale publishes the first in a series of guest posts chronicling his efforts to get a first job in journalism.

I want to be a journalist, Despite all the controversy currently surrounding the profession, the unsociable hours and the comparatively modest pay, I am nearing the end of my university education fuelled by the same fire that led me to choosing a journalism degree nearly three years ago.

Of course, I’m not the only one burning with such desire. There is now a myriad of options available for prospective journalists: UCAS alone lists 533 undergraduate courses under the banner of journalism, and that is without even considering the many wannabe journalists armed with degrees in other disciplines, those studying commercial journalism courses (Press Association, News Associates, CTJT etc) or those following the now popular route of postgraduate journalism study, especially at the journalistic juggernaut that is City University.

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There’s the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), the Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC), the Periodicals Training Council (PPA) plus more, exotic organisations such as the European Journalism Training Association (EJTA) and Trust Media.

In a climate of such plentiful qualifications, competition for entry-level jobs is intense; The Times, recently accepting applications for its graduate scheme, warns that it expects to receive over 300 application for two positions, while News International stablemate The Sun received over 700 applications last year for only four graduate scheme slots.

Perhaps naively, I think my CV helps me stand out from the crowd. My undergraduate degree – Sport Journalism at the University of Brighton – is NCTJ accredited, so I’ve taken and passed the usual run down of NCTJ exams and look set to master 100 words-per-minute shorthand before the year is out.

I’m predicted a First in my degree, I edit two student media publications at university and have been on a grand total of seven work experience placements, getting work published in each publication including a 700-word piece in The Guardian’s sport section.

I reiterate, I genuinely think I’ve done my bit, learnt the ropes and feel ready to be let loose among the professional news hounds. But with competition for places so fierce, and the industry seemingly shifting towards postgraduate recruitment, it remains to be seen whether any professional editor feels as confident.

This is where this new blog comes in. Throughout the next few months, I’ll chronicle my own experiences on the job hunt and hopefully offer a flavour of what life is like for a fledgling journalist. I’ll look into the various graduate opportunities available, talk to editors about what they’re looking for in their new recruits and hopefully shed some clarity through the minefield of options currently present in an industry where demand for jobs far outweighs the supply.

With all that and a dissertation to crack on with, I best get started.



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