How to Get a Reporting Job With a Newspaper

It's a tough time for business of daily journalism with the Internet stealing readers and revenues from the traditional print product, but newspaper jobs offer great opportunities for aspiring writers to hone their craft and contribute to an informed society.


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    Get some experience at your college newspaper. Most are looking for new writers and editors. Your first assignments probably will be short "briefs," but you may be asked to cover breaking news or important meetings.
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    If you're not in college, look for other opportunities to generate a stack of "clips" or writing samples: newsletters, local magazines, etc.
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    Try to write a wide variety of stories -- breaking or "spot" news, public safety (aka the "cops" beat), political/government coverage, feature pieces, sports, business, film reviews, etc. See what types of stories you like best, but make sure you develop a varied set of clips that show you're versatile.
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    Ask for feedback from your editor and, even better, a journalism professor or writing teacher. The only way you'll get better is to make mistakes and learn to avoid them in the future. If possible, sit down with your editor as she goes through your story to see what she likes and what she doesn't.
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    Keep numerous copies of your best stories. You'll need these when you apply for jobs.
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    It helps to know how to shoot photos, write blog's, create audio reports and do other multi-media tasks since the reporter of the 21st century is expected to provide information across a variety of platforms.
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    Search for internships and part-time jobs with professional newspapers. Many papers hire college, even high school students during the summer. You'll probably get stuck writing obituaries or compiling box scores for the sports page, but you'll have your foot in the door.
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    Cast a wide net when you start to apply for full-time jobs at newspapers. Don't limit yourself to just one or two papers in your hometown, and don't pigeon-hole yourself into just one or two beats at the start of your career. The more flexible you are in terms of location and beat, the more opportunities you'll have.


  • Ask yourself whether you really want to work for an industry that is changing with constant fear of laying off staff, but which is also exciting and vital to our democracy.
  • Talk to working journalists in your hometown and ask them how they got started.
  • Don't fall in love with your copy. Your writing will be torn apart and sometimes thrown away in order to make space for other, more pressing news, not to mention advertisements and meaningless stories that your editor thinks will sell papers.
  • Make sure this is the career for you, being a reporter requires confidence and ruthlessness if you are overly emotional it is not for you. Try getting some work experience with a local newspaper to decide if it is really what you want to do.
  • Consult the web sites of professional organizations, such as The Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.
  • Even at the biggest, best newspapers, reporters are expected to cover a broad range of stories and at the smaller papers where most reporters start out, you'll almost surely cover the gamut of news.
  • Don't expect to make good money in the business. But do expect to be a witness to history, comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.


  • Don't try to get into too much trouble with your boss.

Things You'll Need

  • A job
  • A newspaper
  • People
  • Imagination

Article Info

Categories: Visual & Written Media