Newspapers come in many different formats: dailies, weeklies, and publications that focus on certain populations (women, African Americans, LGBT) or industries (Finance, Arts, Music). Newspapers employ people in production, editorial, reporting, circulation, layout, advertising, publicity, news, promotion, and management. At larger publications, you may find separate departments focusing on each of these areas, where as at smaller papers positions may be combined and include responsibilities that may fall into a number of areas.
Additionally, there are wire services, sometimes referred to as “wholesalers of news.” They provide feature stories, columns, cartoons, and comics to newspapers and magazines throughout the world. The leading wire services in the world are the Associated Press (AP), UPI, Reuters, AFP, and the New York Times News Service.
In general there is less day-to-day pressure in magazines than newspapers because of the structure and distribution deadlines. Although the integrity of the news reported in most magazines matches that of newspapers, they allow for more creativity (in terms of format and sometimes content) and reporting of more in-depth information because of the circulation frequency (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc). Other publications that can be grouped with magazines are journals and newsletters, which focus on specific subject areas or are industry specific.
Magazines will have many of the same departments that exist in newspapers, advertising, sales, circulation, editorial, production, promotions and business or management departments. Magazines will also incorporate artistic departments because of differences in format and composition of magazines. There are two primary segments of the magazine industry, consumer titles and trade magazines. Consumer titles are the magazines the public is most familiar with. These magazines are the ones you will see sold in stores or through subscriptions. Consumer titles are further divided by general interest magazines and specialized magazines. Trade magazines, sometimes referred to as business-to-business magazines, are sold by subscription and target specific professions or particular interest areas. You will rarely find these magazines in stores.
As you begin your job or internship search, it is important to recognize that the array of magazines you may see in stores represent only a little more than half of all magazines published today. In both segments, there are a variety of career options to choose from based on interests and skills. The business side of the industry focuses on advertising, circulation, consumer marketing, promotions, public relations, business management and financial management. The creative side oversees the editorial functions, which range from photography and graphic design to content, layout and online interactive features.
Things to Consider
Experience is essential for both magazines and newspapers. Get involved with on-campus publications, or a local daily or weekly publication, to build your experience in the functional areas (writing, layout/design, advertising, editorial) that interest you. If you are writing articles, keep copies of your clips for use when applying to newspaper positions, as many will ask you to provide at least 3-5 published samples of your writing. For photographers and artists, it is also important to have samples of your work, often referred to as your portfolio; keep a file with hard copies and electronic versions of published materials, and if applicable, samples of work from your courses. The same is true for designers, being able to show samples of your work is important. Seek out leadership positions to expand your experience. This will help you as you apply for internships.
Begin planning early for a summer internship. Newspapers tend to have earlier application deadlines; it is not unusual to see deadlines in November and December for competitive summer positions. Magazine deadlines vary widely, though the majority fall between January and March. Keep in mind that you do not have to intern at a prestigious newspaper or magazine to gain valuable experience; often times the experience you have at a smaller hometown paper may be more comprehensive, and you may end up with more clips and experience at the end of the summer than if you had interned at a prestigious publication. For magazines, think of topic areas that interest you; the odds of there being publications on those topics are high. Start by searching for opportunities at publications that genuinely interest you.
For newspapers and magazines, it’s important to proactively seek out opportunities; as with many other industries, openings are not always advertised. Contact the publication directly to determine if opportunities exist; the Managing Editor is the person who typically oversees hiring and is a great person to start with. You can find their name on the publication masthead. If nothing is available at the time, try and get an informational interview to learn more about the publication and make a connection, as you never know where that connection may lead in the future.
If your goal is to be the person reporting the news on-air, whether in front of the camera or in front of the microphone, strengthening your written and verbal communication skills is essential. In addition to accumulating audio or video clips and getting experience researching and writing articles you need to gain exposure to the television and radio industries. Practical experience gained through internships and extracurricular activities is vital.
Make sure to also check out the Yale Journalism Initiative.