A career in newspapers – More than just a job

A career with a newspaper has often been described as being more than just a job. For many, it’s a passion driven by the romance and folklore that have co-existed with newspaper publishing for the past 200 years or so.

Newspapers Canada would like to take you on a tour of career possibilities that exist at daily and community newspapers. You’ll find information about what skills and attributes you will need to enjoy a successful career at a daily or community newspaper.

Newspaper industry job boards include:

Journalism – Editorial
The newsroom is the place where a newspaper’s best face is made up each day. It’s where you’ll find beat reporters, copy editors, columnists, editorial writers, editorial cartoonists, critics, photographers, artists, page designers, librarians, clerks, and editors assembling, distilling and organizing all the news the reader needs or wants to know.

Persons considering journalism careers should first answer the basic question: Why are you interested in journalism? Most admission requirements to journalism schools require applicants to write a short essay on why they want to pursue a career in journalism.

So, start by interviewing yourself. Do you like to write? Are you curious about everything? Do you read newspapers and magazines regularly? Do you wonder why things happen? Are you interested in news, history, geography, politics, sports? A journalist must be well-rounded and knowledgeable in the arts, humanities, sciences, business, and the law.


Today’s reporter is expected to be conversant–and to make his or her readers conversant–with such matters as curriculum quality, budgets, provincial grants, personal investment, taxes, life skills, relationships, health, diseases, sports, culture, and national unity, and world affairs. It is not enough to report the results of a meeting. A reporter must help readers understand what the story will mean to them.

Copy Editors

The copy editor is a behind-the-scenes person, often working the overnight shift as news stories are prepared for the morning edition.

Their role is to put news copy in acceptable form for publication by correcting spelling, grammar and punctuation; checking story angles, names, dates, places and other facts; looking for potentially libelous comment; and writing clear, concise, and informative headlines for stories.

In many cases, copy editors also lay out pages using pagination software and are responsible for editing photos and other news judgments. It’s rewarding (pays a bit more than reporters at many newspapers) and is normally the launching pad toward a career in newspaper management. Some have begun their careers as reporters; some have graduated right from university onto the copy desk.


Another key news function is photojournalism, a profession onto itself with no single path to admission and success. Some evolve into photography by showing an interest while studying journalism; some seek out educational institutions that offer photo-journalism training; others are self-taught but have demonstrated an innate ability for great news, sports and feature photography; still others combine successfully both photography and writing skills, something that is very important at smaller newspapers.


Without advertising, there would be no newspaper, at least none that people could afford on a daily basis. But beyond the obvious value to a newspaper and its financial health, advertising is news; it means readership and circulation. Many who buy a newspaper do it not just for the news stories but for information found in the ads.

There is as wide a range of career possibilities in newspaper advertising as there is in any other newspaper department or any other career choice.

By the time an ad hits the press at a large newspaper, a sales person, a copy writer, an artist, a layout designer, a bookkeeper and an accountant will have contributed their talents. At smaller newspapers, a single person may do several of the tasks that go into preparing an ad. A person who has both artistic and computer skills is a valued employee.

There are three principal categories of advertising–General, Retail, and Classified.

General advertising, also often known as national, is the advertising of products and services marketed either nationally or regionally. These ads, most frequently placed by advertising agencies, convey the message of the manufacturer or distributor. Sometimes you’ll see an ad of that nature supplemented by insertion of the names of local retailers.

Retail advertising is mainly local advertising. You’ll find a community’s department stores, restaurants, specialty stores and supermarkets among retail ads in a newspaper.

The third category is classified advertising. Name something that people can sell or buy and the odds are good that it will be found in the classified section — jobs, apartments, houses, antiques, used cars, pets, romance and furnishings, to name a few.