Download PDF

Contents

1. Working as a Journalist

Job Description

Working as a Journalist you will perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Collect local, national, and international news through interviews, investigation and observation
  • Write news stories, editorials and/or commentaries
  • Receive, analyze, and verify news and other copy for accuracy
  • Specialize in fields such as medicine, science, and technology
  • Write critical reviews of literary, musical, and other artistic works
  • Journalists may specialize in print, broadcast, or Webcast media in particular issues such as political affairs or entertainment news, or in a particular geographic area.

Source:  NOC 5123

Industry Overview

Journalism is an incredibly diverse field that offers a variety of career possibilities.

There is a decline in print media and new opportunities for journalism in electronic media. Journalism is a highly competitive field. Some journalism graduates seek work in closely related fields, such as advertising and public relations.

The majority of journalists in BC are employed in the Lower Mainland – Southwest, and Vancouver Island and Coast regions.

Sources: WorkBC Career Profile for Journalists, Careers in Journalism

Job Outlook in BC

Writing, translating and related communications professionals (NOC 512)
job outlook in BC for Writing, translating and related communications professionals; NOC 512

Chart from WorkBC

The Employment Outlook for BC provides job opening projections for journalists within BC regions:

Region 2010 Estimated Employment 2015 Estimated Employment Avg Annual % Change, 5 Years,
2010 to 2015
Vancouver Island 180 220 3.9%
Lower Mainland/Southwest 790 880 2.2%
Thompson-Okanagan 170 170 0.7%
Kootenay 30 30 0.4%
Cariboo 30 40 6.8%
North Coast & Nechako 20 20 6.9%
Northeast 10 10 17.7%

Source: Regional Employment Projections, BC Stats. Projections for development regions.
[accessed October 2014]

You can learn more about working as a Journalist in BC from

Types of Employers

Journalists are employed by:

  • radio
  • television networks stations
  • internet sites
  • newspapers
  • magazines

Journalists may also work on a freelance basis, self employed.

Salary

The average annual salary for Journalist in BC is between $66,000 and $95,000. Journalists who work their way up to editor or manager positions may make over $80,000 a year.

Many journalists work full-time, but some work on a freelance basis and sell their stories to several different publications. Earnings for freelance journalists vary depending on the price they are able to get for their stories, and the number of stories they sell each year.

Journalists working for large newspapers, magazines, or media organizations are often unionized. These positions often include benefits such as dental and health care and paid sick days and paid vacation.

Source: Career Cruising database (Profile for Print Journalist).

Job Bank Canada provides hourly wages for journalists in BC regions:

journalists regional wage outlook

Source: Job Bank Canada

Working Hours

Many journalists work full-time, but some work on a freelance basis and sell their stories to several different publications. Although most journalists work an average of 40 to 50 hours a week, they may have irregular schedules. Newspaper journalists may have to work late into the night to cover important stories. Those who work on a freelance basis have the freedom to set their own hours, as long as they meet their deadlines.

Source: Career Cruising database (Profile for Print Journalist).

2. Skills, Education and Experience

Skills

  • excellent written language and communication skills
  • research skills and attention to detail
  • working well with others
  • good computer skills
  • knowledge of current events
  • willingness to take risks
  • critical thinking
  • initiative and persistence
  • knowledge of journalistic ethics, laws, and standards
  • ability to handle heavy workload and work within tight deadlines

Sources: Work BC and Career Cruising database (Profile for Print Journalist).

Education and Experience

A university degree or college diploma in journalism or a related field such as communications is usually required. Most employers prefer to hire candidates with a bachelor’s degree or a program in journalism or communications that offers a period of internship in a newsroom is excellent preparation.

Many journalism schools also offer graduate programs.

Sources: NOC and Career Cruising database (Profile for Print Journalist).

Qualifications

This occupation is not regulated in British Columbia.

3. Finding Jobs

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers, electronic sources, and through professional associations.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun & the Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily, the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and in the Province on Sundays.

Job White Pages

  • Available online or in print at the Central Library
    NOTE: You can only access this database from the Central Library or VPL branch libraries. Access is NOT available from home or outside the Library.

Online Job Postings

  • Indeed.com
    Find jobs posted on a multitude of company career sites and job boards

Professional Associations’ Career Resources

Identifying the Right Position

When you browse job advertisements, you’ll find a wide range of different job titles that are relevant.

For journalists (NOC 5123), look for these and other related job titles

  • Book reviewer
  • Content provider
  • Broadcast journalist
  • Columnist
  • Correspondent
  • Cyberjournalist
  • Investigative reporter
  • News commentator
  • Reporter
  • Television news anchorperson

Source: NOC

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of companies in the Lower Mainland or BC in the journalism sector. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

  • Canadian Writer’s Market
    Available at the Central Library, 808.02 G65c11
  • PWAS Guide to Canadian Markets for Professional Freelance Writers
    Available at the Central Library, 808.0205 P445pa
  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “newspaper” or “magazine” and click LOOKUP.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

4. Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume (curriculum vitae) and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your relevant experience.

Use the library catalogue, to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.

To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, choose the following links:

5. Getting Help from Industry Sources

Industry Associations

There are associations for journalists in BC and Canada. These associations provide assistance to organizations and individuals working in this sector.

  • Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF)
    A not-for-profit organization that exists to support and reward excellence in Canadian journalism and provide a trustworthy source of information.
  • Newspapers Canada
    A joint initiative of The Canadian Newspaper Association and The Canadian Community Newspapers Association

Industry Journals

Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue for journals related to your profession. Examples at the Central Library:

  • Canadian Writer’s Market
    Available at VPL, Central Library Branch, 808.02 G65c11
  • Media / The Canadian Association of Journalists