Career Development

How to Get a Job in Journalism Without a Degree

Although a journalism degree has its merits, the media landscape is changing, and so is the road to it.

If you’ve got a flair for storytelling and love getting the inside scoop, journalism may be the career path for you. TV has glamourized journalism with shows like the Newsroom and the Morning Show. But if you don’t have a journalism degree, can you be a journalist? 

Although a journalism degree has its merits, the media landscape is changing, and so is the road to it. Journalism falls into the media sector, and journalists come from diverse backgrounds. As a result, you can enter the industry at any age in a variety of ways. Here are some ideas to get you started. 

Understand the differences. Journalist vs. Reporter vs. Writer

They may all seem like the same role, but there are some key differences. In traditional journalism, a journalist gathers facts and information, writes a story, and is responsible for its publication. Nowadays, the role is split. A reporter’s job is to relay the report to the public, while a journalist’s job is to research and write the stories. So if you want to be on the news, you will want to be a reporter. However, if you like research and writing, journalism is the way to go. 

Between journalists and writers, journalism is a style of writing. Journalists use investigative techniques to write their content to create a compelling story that hooks the reader from the first sentence. This style of writing is something you will have to develop. But we’ll get into that next.

Training and skills

Training 

Although you may not need a degree to be a journalist, it does make it easier to get your foot in the door. Many great journalists working today do not have college degrees, but many of the pros in the business started while they were writing for their school newspaper. They were able to build their portfolio while studying towards a degree. It may not have been a Journalism degree, but many would have done papers at university such as English, Sociology, or Political Science. 

So if you don’t have a degree and haven’t built a portfolio, it may help to get some online courses under your belt so you understand the style of writing that goes into good journalism. You can even look at doing some short courses at your local community college or University. 

Skills

When it comes to skills, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the most critical skills of being a good journalist is being a strong communicator. Every journalist needs to be a strong verbal and written communicator. In addition, good research skills, being comfortable under pressure, and the ability to work at a pace are all part of the makings of a good journalist. 

Journalism is very different from writing your blog, so make sure you upskill yourself, so you’re well equipped to start building your portfolio. Journalism is a competitive market, and for you to stand out without a degree, you need to build a killer portfolio. Learning how is the first step. 

Getting started

Build a portfolio

Now that you’ve got appropriate training under your belt and you understand the skills involved, you can start building your portfolio. This will be vital to landing your first role in journalism without a degree. Your portfolio, if built online, is essentially a personal website that showcases your work. When you start applying for journalism jobs, you will attach a link to your portfolio in your application. 

Even if you don’t have any clients, start writing content in the area that you want to go into. For example, if you’d like to be a fashion journalist, start writing and publishing content on your portfolio to build your online presence. The more you can get people to interact with your portfolio, the better it is to showcase that your work captures an audience. 

Pitch to known publications

Pitching is a skill you’ll get better at over time, but once you’ve built a couple of articles to showcase your style in your portfolio, start pitching article ideas to known publications. Many publications have pages on their website where they talk about how to pitch to them. If you’re unsure, you can search for “Open to writers” and your niche to see what publications are open to receiving work. Ideally, if you have a publication in mind where you know the content, and you’d like to write for them, pitch to them first. 

Once you’ve pitched to a few publications and written more content, it’s just a rinse and repeat. So keep building your portfolio and pitching. In time you’ll have built a presence and reputation as a journalist, and you’ll be able to land that journalism job you’ve always wanted.  

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