Journalists research and produce stories for print, radio, television, websites and other forms of media for social and commercial purposes.
Journalists usually earn
$42K-$85K per year
Source: Trade Me Jobs and TVNZ, 2018.
Pay for journalists varies depending on experience, location and the type of media they work in.
Journalists usually earn between $42,000 and $85,000 a year.
Journalists may also get allowances for working evenings or public holidays, and overtime pay.
Senior investigative journalists working in broadcasting can earn over $100,000 a year.
Sources: Trade Me Jobs, 2018; TVNZ, 2018.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Journalists may do some or all of the following:
- find and collect news about local or international events and issues
- research and write stories
- interview people and record interviews
- shoot and edit photographs and videos
- present stories on radio or television.
Skills and knowledge
Journalists need to have:
- excellent interviewing and reporting skills
- excellent writing skills
- general knowledge of local, national and international affairs
- in-depth knowledge of the area they are covering or specialising in
- research skills
- social and communication skills
- knowledge of media ethics and law
- photography and videography skills.
- often work shifts, including early mornings, evenings, weekends and public holidays
- work in newsrooms and offices, and on location
- work in conditions that may be stressful due to deadlines, or distressing if reporting unpleasant events
- may need to work outside in all weather conditions
- may travel locally, nationally and internationally to cover stories.
What's the job really like?
A hunger for news
Zaryd has always had an interest in news, so when it came time to decide what career to pursue the choice was obvious.
“Since I was young, I’ve always been interested in news. I’ve always read newspapers and watched news on TV. I think it was actually the 9/11 attacks that got me right into it. I remember keeping a scrapbook of all the news articles on that when I was 12 or 13.”
Lots of variety
Working as a journalist means that no day is the same. You’re always talking to new people and exploring new topics.
“I enjoy the massive variety of stuff you get to talk to people about and then write about. You get a very broad picture of your city and of the world. But it can be very stressful sometimes when you’ve got deadlines and a short amount of time to get the information out there.”
Important to be proactive
If you want to be a journalist, you’ve got to go for it and make the most of every opportunity you get.
“You’ve got to be really proactive. You’ve got to really want to do it. Even when you’re studying, take all the opportunities you can to write stories. The quickest way to learn and to get your name out there is just by doing it.”
To become a journalist you usually need to have a relevant tertiary qualification such as a Bachelor of Communication or a New Zealand Diploma in Journalism.
A driver's licence is usually required.
A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include te reo Māori, English, media studies, design and visual communication, digital technologies, and languages.
Journalists need to be:
- enquiring, curious, persistent and patient, with excellent communication skills
- confident and motivated
- good at relationship management
- able to accept criticism
- good at time management
- able to work well under pressure to tight deadlines.
It can be very stressful sometimes when you’ve got deadlines and a short amount of time to get the information out there.
Useful experience for journalists includes:
- all types of writing experience
- radio, television or video work
- work involving interviewing people.
Radio and television journalists need to have clear voices.
Find out more about training
- Massey University
- 0800 627 739 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.massey.ac.nz
- University of Auckland
- 0800 61 62 63 - email@example.com - www.auckland.ac.nz
- Whitireia New Zealand
- 0800 944 847 - www.whitireia.ac.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Strong competition for few journalist roles
There are limited vacancies for journalists and competition for them is strong.
There are fewer print journalist jobs than before, and it's hard to get work as a television or radio journalist because the broadcasting industry is small.
Your chances of getting an entry-level journalism job are best if you approach employers directly.
More opportunities for print journalists at regional newspapers
Newspaper closures and declining circulations have led to reduced demand for print journalists.
Your chances of getting work in print journalism are best at smaller regional and community newspapers where staff turnover is higher.
Freelance work for online journalists
Internet news sites often contract freelance journalists, but work may not be regular.
Your chances of getting work as an online journalist are best if you write for free and build up a portfolio of work.
Small range of employers
Journalists work for:
- newspaper and magazine publishing businesses
- radio networks
- television networks and production companies
- online news sites.
- Casey, J, people and talent consultant, Television New Zealand, careers.govt.nz interview, May 2018.
- Edmunds, S; Pullar-Strecker, T, 'Stuff to Sell or Close 28 Community and Rural Newspapers', Stuff, 21 February 2018, (www.stuff.co.nz).
- Lang, S, freelance journalist, careers.govt.nz interview, February 2018.
- Williams, D, 'The future of newspapers', Newsroom, 8 January 2018, (www.newsroom.co.nz).
- Wilson, Z, chief reporter, Whanganui Chronicle, careers.govt.nz interview, February 2018.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Journalists may progress to become editors or chief reporters. Many journalists move into communications or public relations roles.
Journalists may specialise in:
- broadcasting, including radio or television work
- print media, including working for newspapers or magazines
- web journalism, including audio and video work.
Last updated 2 May 2019