Tips on Finding a Career in Newspapers
We frequently get letters from young people wanting to land a first job in newspaper journalism. And no wonder! It's a great career and you get to work with ...
ASNE's advice to job seekers
We frequently get letters from young people wanting to land a first job in newspaper journalism. And no wonder! It's a great career and you get to work with smart, able people who want to inform the people in their community.
The best path is to apply directly to newspaper editors. Also, it is advantageous to apply to newspapers that you know something about.
The proper approach is an informative and personal letter addressed to the appropriate editor. For smaller newspapers, you should contact the editor or managing editor. Don't blanket the newspaper with several letters -- one letter of application should be enough. For larger papers, you could write the main editor or select the editor of the department that interests you the most (city desk, news desk, lifestyle, sports, etc.).
You should describe your experience and ability, and provide references. If you have some examples of your writing, photography, graphics or editing (especially something that's published), enclose six to 10 clips to illustrate your best work (for copyediting, include before and after samples and headlines). A concise, well-organized resume, which includes your work experience in chronological order, is essential. If you are going to be in the area where the newspaper is located and would be available for an interview, be sure to include that information in your application letter.
The best source of names of editors is Editor & Publisher Yearbook, which is in most major research libraries (it is a red, telephone-directory-sized book). Also, E&P magazine has employment classified ads that are a good source of jobs.
You should know that traditionally, people start at smaller newspapers and work their way up. It is very unusual, for example, for a major metro newspaper to hire someone right out of college.
Job candidates who have no newspaper experience at all might try some free-lance writing to demonstrate ability. Reading about journalism is a good idea, of course. There are several basic texts used by journalism schools. A nearby j-school program can steer you in the best direction. Columbia Journalism Review and American Journalism Review are good reading.