Experience on School
Newspapers is Key to Getting a Job
every college student who
searches for a newspaper internship or full-time
job in journalism will list salary, the
reputation of the newspaper and the depth of
experience they can achieve as the three factors
that drive their job hunt.
The order of importance
those three factors assume will vary from student
to student, however. Choosing which newspaper to
work for is a very personal decision.
understand that the size of a newspaper and/or
the frequency it is published are minor points in
the eyes of most newspaper editors who evaluate
job applications and clippings written by their
future reporters and editors. The primary reason
one student is hired over another one for a
newspaper job is the quality of his or her
writing ... regardless of where that writing
Job candidates who
think salary is the most important factor may
want to consult the salary article on the NJCPA website.
The reputation of a
newspaper often is associated with the number of
journalism awards the newspaper has won over the
years. In New Jersey, for example, the state
press association's Better
Newspaper Contest honors each year's best
journalistic performances at its member daily and
It's no secret that the
depth of experience an intern will receive varies
from paper to paper and that dailies give
students somewhat different experiences than
Here are some points
students can consider as they decide what type of
internship experience they want:
- The typical
internship or first job, regardless of
whether it is a daily or a weekly,
involves working as a general assignment
reporter. That may mean covering a school
board meeting one night and writing about
a traffic accident the next afternoon.
- Daily newspapers
often assign interns to a
"beat" or a specialized topic
in addition to those general assignments.
Also, many large dailies ask their
interns to help veteran reporters gather
background information for articles. Some
papers hire interns to work exclusively
as copy editors, photographers or graphic
- Interns at large
papers, especially dailies, are likely to
have their articles edited by several
people before they appear in print.
- Weeklies and small
dailies depend heavily on their interns
to produce a large quantity of articles
on every topic. It isn't unusual for an
intern at a weekly to receive front-page
bylines immediately after starting to
work and to write dozens of articles in
- In addition to
reporting and writing news and feature
articles, interns at small dailies and
weeklies may be asked to take photos to
accompany their articles, do some copy
editing or to help with laying out the
As with any other
company or any other industry, the decision about
working for a weekly or a daily sometimes boils
down to a personal preference of whether to be a
"big fish in a small pond" or a
"small fish in a big pond."
The quality of the
experience during an internship or first job
after graduation will depend on the commitment of
the newspaper to help prepare a student for his
or her future in a newspaper career.
The New Jersey
Press Foundation believes strongly that every
newspaper assigned one of its interns ...
regardless of whether it's a daily or a weekly
... has set as a top priority its commitment to
preparing future reporters and editors.
This article was
written by Tom Engleman, program director of the New Jersey
It was updated in April 2003.