Would an English Literature degree be good for journalism? Watch

anonymous11123xo
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I really want to be a journalist, and I was wondering whether an undergraduate degree in English Literature and a Master’s Degree in Journalism/Media would really maximise my chances of becoming a journalist. I would ideally like some experience as an employed journalist after my Master’s, hopefully working for a newspaper for a couple years and then pursuing a career as a freelancer. Is this a good idea?

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username4932256
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Hi. As it so happens, this is my first post here. And as it also so happens, I am a UK based journalist and editor who's been in the game for a quarter of a century. The reality is that just about every local / regional newspaper will want you to have an NCTJ qualification. Without this, most publications will not be interested in employing you. The NCTJ can be obtained in a number of ways... either through a standalone course (traditionally a one year study programme, although many training centres offer a fast-track option), and many journalism degrees / post grads incorporate the NCTJ qualification. While there are other ways into journalism, think of the NCTJ as the master key to the door. Another reality is that many newspaper editors want to see evidence that you have an interest in anything other than writing / English! If you pass the NCTJ, then it's a given that you have a basic sense of how to write. If you're interested in English Literature - then by all means study it and enjoy it (it won't do you any harm). But please don't think that studying English Literature will help you to land a job as a journalist. Really, it won't. You also mention about going on to be a freelancer. That's a noble ambition - however, unless you're at the very top of your game, with a good reputation behind you, the contacts to match, and are writing for the major players - then forget any idea of being able to pay the bills. Most local / regional publications have cut their freelance budget drastically, or else don't have a freelance budget anymore. Post back if you think I can be of any further assistance. Good luck.
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anonymous11123xo
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(Original post by EnglishSpanish)
Hi. As it so happens, this is my first post here. And as it also so happens, I am a UK based journalist and editor who's been in the game for a quarter of a century. The reality is that just about every local / regional newspaper will want you to have an NCTJ qualification. Without this, most publications will not be interested in employing you. The NCTJ can be obtained in a number of ways... either through a standalone course (traditionally a one year study programme, although many training centres offer a fast-track option), and many journalism degrees / post grads incorporate the NCTJ qualification. While there are other ways into journalism, think of the NCTJ as the master key to the door. Another reality is that many newspaper editors want to see evidence that you have an interest in anything other than writing / English! If you pass the NCTJ, then it's a given that you have a basic sense of how to write. If you're interested in English Literature - then by all means study it and enjoy it (it won't do you any harm). But please don't think that studying English Literature will help you to land a job as a journalist. Really, it won't. You also mention about going on to be a freelancer. That's a noble ambition - however, unless you're at the very top of your game, with a good reputation behind you, the contacts to match, and are writing for the major players - then forget any idea of being able to pay the bills. Most local / regional publications have cut their freelance budget drastically, or else don't have a freelance budget anymore. Post back if you think I can be of any further assistance. Good luck.
Hi, thank you so much for your help! I’ll definitely look into the NCTJ. Also, I think it’s important to add that I want to be an INVESTIGATIVE freelance journalist. I really want to travel and find stories about corruption or exposing stuff, and hopefully sell my stories for a lot. Would this pay much, providing I got a really dirty story (as in unveiling something big)!
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username4932256
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(Original post by anonymous11123xo)
Hi, thank you so much for your help! I’ll definitely look into the NCTJ. Also, I think it’s important to add that I want to be an INVESTIGATIVE freelance journalist. I really want to travel and find stories about corruption or exposing stuff, and hopefully sell my stories for a lot. Would this pay much, providing I got a really dirty story (as in unveiling something big)!
Hi. You might be a great journalist in the making, but in order to hone the skills that will enable you to get those exclusives and convince editors to go with your work, you need to put in the groundwork. For the vast majority of wannabe journalists this means (after qualifying) spending a couple of years on a local paper, then maybe going to a regional publication for a year or two, and then onto one of the nationals. By this point you should have built up a bank of essential skills - and just as importantly a portfolio of stories that will show editors how good you are. Without wishing to dampen your enthusiasm, no sane editor is going to publish an investigative story by someone who they don't know anything about and who has no proven track record. At best, they might pay you a tip-off fee and then get one of their own journalists to fact check and write up the story. Nothing beats experience and reputation, and both take time to build. In terms of money, while freelancers can in theory negotiate a rate with an editor - in practice publications tend to pay a fixed amount, with a little bit of wiggle room. Google 'NUJ freelance fees guide' and you will find a list of actual rates paid to experienced working journalists across all sorts of media and at different levels. As an example, spending a day at a national newspaper will get you around £200... maybe a little more, maybe a little less.
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