How To Become A Journalist In Australia: A Complete Guide

Students want to know how to become an investigative journalist in Australia, plus how much they earn.


As a profession, journalism is a dynamic, competitive, and fast-paced field that relies on quick thinking and flexibility. Journalists are expected to keep themselves updated with the news at all times, getting information about the most important stories of the day and willing to research at any hour.


In today's digital age, journalists heavily depend on modern technology and its ability to find news instantly. For instance, the popularity of Twitter as a crucial source of information means that the deadlines for journalists are much tighter, and they must always be a step ahead.


In this post, we will learn about everything you need to know about how to become a journalist in Australia, as well as how a bachelor's or postgraduate degree in journalism will help you improve your chances of success. No matter what path you choose, be ready to encounter hundreds of applicants competing for a single position!



1. What Do Journalists Do?


A journalist conducts research to produce and write news articles. These news pieces are then published in a newspaper, magazine, or online. In other circumstances, a story created by a journalist will broadcast on radio or television. All in all, a journalist is responsible for finding stories that are both relevant and interesting to the audience.


Before carrying out research, a journalist might need to pitch their story to the management. Gathering suggestions and looking at what other news organisations have published might help the journalist to find leads.


They can even conduct interviews to make the story more newsworthy and relevant. In this situation, they will have to look for individuals who are linked to the story, like family members of the person involved or other eyewitnesses.


Sometimes, getting an interview may be challenging, and you may need to persuade people to participate in an interview. In some occupations, a journalist may need to produce a specific number of articles in a given time period.


A few of them may also appear on television to report stories firsthand. Not only that but a journalist can also be made in charge of videography. Overall, for a journalist to present and write stories in a cohesive and captivating manner, strong verbal communication and writing skills are required.


Many jobs will require you to possess a bachelor of journalism or communications degree or a related degree. Some may even demand prior experience, while others might offer you an internship or entry-level position.



2. Major Duties and Tasks of a Journalist

  • In collaboration with other senior editors and following editorial and policies, make decisions on the specific content of publications.

  • Critically discuss current events in the newspaper's editorial section, and review films, books, and plays.

  • Present news on-air (radio or television).

  • Conduct research and compose technical, information-based content with documentation for manuals, handbooks, textbooks, and multimedia products.

  • Write news reports, articles, commentaries, and feature stories for journals, magazines, journals, newspapers, radio and television on topics of public interest.

  • Conduct research to provide background information for articles.

  • Choose an advertising strategy by consulting management and clients and studying products to identify key selling points.

  • Write advertisements for billboards, cinema screens, shop displays, catalogues, radio, press, and television.

  • Review copy for publication to verify that it follows established grammar rules, accuracy, format and style, probability of content, legality, and the story's coherence.

  • Analyse and collect facts about newsworthy events from printed material, interviews, observations, and investigations.

  • Assess the suitability of articles and reports for broadcast and publishing, and ensure that they adhere to a consistent style and structure, and make required edits.



3. Steps to Become a Journalist in Australia


To have a successful career in journalism, you need to have a few things in common, such as critical thinking skills to synthesise, access, and retain factual information, be good communicators, and stay persistent and motivated to obtain the best version of the truth.


Here are some more steps you can follow to become a journalist in Australia:



Step 1: Get a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism


You do not require a specific educational background to work as a journalist in Australia. However, suppose you want to work professionally in broadcast, print, or internet journalism in Australia - in that case, you will have to show potential employers that you have the practical abilities and proper knowledge required to execute the job.


Journalism is a vast field that incorporates entertainment reporters, sports reporters, political reporters, fitness and health reporters, and technology reporters, including videographers, photographers, and various other specialists who may use their specialised skills in a media project.


With a broad spectrum of opportunities available in this field, you must pursue a three-year bachelor of journalism degree that will help you move in the right direction.


You can also take up a related field with a major in Journalism, often followed by a cadetship of one year, which involves on-the-job training. Additionally, you can even choose to pursue a three-year cadetship, allowing you to get journalism experience and instructions under the guidance of senior and professional journalists.



Step 2: Go to a Journalism School


Journalism School in Australia usually refers to an institute that offers master or graduate degree programs in journalism.


Here are some of the best journalism schools in Australia:



Those who are currently working in the profession and want to enhance their skills might benefit from a bachelor's degree in journalism. It is also a fantastic opportunity for those who want to switch their sociology, psychology, business, law, or other humanities and arts professions to a successful career in journalism.


Furthermore, for individuals wishing to teach journalism at the college level, a bachelor degree in journalism is usually a requirement.


Step 3: Complete an Internship

Trial-and-error on-the-job experience, apprenticeships, and internships were common ways to study journalism in the past. Nowadays, understanding the concepts and basic principles of journalism takes place in a classroom, and learning journalism practices require hands-on experience.


Many universities and colleges in Australia promote journalism learning through school community radio stations, campus newspapers, and even television production laboratories in some cases. At the undergraduate level, podcasting and online blogging have become more popular.


Completing paid or unpaid internships at different media outlets such as magazines, newspapers, broadcast stations is an essential part of a journalist's training.


As journalism was traditionally studied through apprenticeships, and as now there is a high demand for ambitious and young trainee journalists to work with professionals in newsrooms, most media companies offer a structured internship program for their interns.


Furthermore, these programs can be affiliated with one or more universities or colleges. So to gain valuable experience as you advance in your journalism career, you must intern with a reputable media firm.



Step 4: Choose an Area of Specialisation


Previously, professional journalism was divided into print media and broadcast, with television and radio serving as the two primary divisions of broadcast. Today, multimedia and digital journalism have emerged as a third field, blurring the difference between broadcast and print media.


Additionally, convergent media is the recent trend in journalism studies that focuses on the fact that media firms and journalists are online entities that incorporate both broadcast and print functions.


Overall, in today's digital world, you will find journalists who are generalists and those who specialise in a particular field. Below is a list of specialisations that you can consider to enhance your career in journalism:


  • Environmental Journalism

  • Broadcast Journalism

  • Photojournalism

  • Political Journalism

  • Multimedia or Online Journalism

  • Global or International Journalism

  • Sports Reporting

  • Financial and Business Reporting

  • Science and Health Reporting

  • News Reporting

  • Magazine and Feature Writing



Step 5: Get an Entry-Level Job


There is no one-size-fits-all approach to landing your first job as a journalist, but there are a few things you can do to start your career. As an aspiring journalist, you must focus on building a portfolio of all your work that may include clips from your television or radio broadcasts, as well as published photographs or stories.


You can obtain these materials through journalism school projects or internships.


Besides, you can even participate in independent activities like blogging, podcasting, and videocasting to produce relevant clips.


If you want to become a successful journalist in Australia, you must be ready to approach producers and editors at famous media and publishing houses. You can send them professional enquiries that include a well-written cover letter, portfolio materials, and multiple story ideas.



Step 6: Continue Your Education and Pursue Advanced Degrees


Sometimes, it is easy to overlook the fact that journalism is a technology-driven industry. Like television and radio have transformed the way journalism can be practised, the expansion of wireless mobile capabilities and the internet has also brought new opportunities, but with many disruptions and worries about how journalism is done and eventually paid for.


According to most media analysts, the nature of journalism will continue to change in the near future. Many of these concerns are discussed regularly in master's and doctoral journalism degrees, both theoretically and practically. Hence, if you want to study journalism in-depth, you should continue your education and pursue advanced degrees.



4. How to Become a Journalist Without a Degree?


More than being theoretical, journalism is more of a practical profession. And it is not necessary that you will receive all the journalism knowledge only through academic institutions. Many of today's brilliant journalists gain a lot of experience and expertise on the job in most situations.


If you are wondering how to become a journalist without a degree, you first need to learn the essential skills required for journalism. Writing and communication skills with a thorough understanding of technical media may go a long way in assisting you.


Furthermore, once you have mastered your skills, you can do an internship at a media firm, which can also help you get an entry-level job. Remember, if you really want to be a journalist, your courage will help you more than an academic qualification.



5. Journalism Jobs in Australia


Most journalists in Australia work for country, suburban, and metropolitan television and radio stations, magazines, and newspapers. They typically begin their careers as cadets covering daily events. Reporters working for radio, newspapers, or television need to be all-rounders who can practically cover any issue of interest.


Additionally, they might also choose to work with press agencies. As the industry is rapidly changing, it is common for some journalists to work as freelancers and enjoy their profession.


Others may work for government departments, take up publicity roles, work for ministers as press secretaries, or pursue relevant fields, such as marketing, advertising, or public relations.


All in all, with proper experience and training, journalists can undertake several responsibilities, depending on their area of specialisation. After several years of experience, they may even advance to the position of an editor.



6. How Much Do Journalists Earn in Australia?


Due to the risk involved in journalism and the level of complexity, journalists in Australia earn quite well by executing their tasks perfectly. And of course, good work is always rewarded with good pay.


According to Payscale, the average annual journalist salary in Australia is around AUD 53,200. This salary does not include additional bonuses that journalists are eligible for on the job.


Now that you know everything on how to become a journalist in Australia, you are ready to embark on your journey to becoming a successful journalist.



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