Ruth Addicott explores why some young people leave journalism early

Are young dreams being dashed?


hen Lucy Pearce was appointed editor of The Argus in Brighton, aged 28, she was not only its youngest editor but also the first woman to edit the paper in its 137-year history. When she resigned within weeks to become

communications and engagement manager at Legal & General, it took many by surprise. Pearce declined to comment on her reasons, but she is not alone in making such a move. In January 2018, Abigail Weaving was awarded the Paul

Durrant Award for her outstanding NCTJ performance. By then, she had already left the Saffron Walden Reporter to work at a London press office. While many graduate trainees on nationals go on to enjoy prestigious careers, there have been recent reports of trainees quitting. Why are some young journalists leaving so soon? An NCTJ report in 2015 which tracked journalists 6-10 months after they’d qualified showed ‘a striking difference’ in

How to get nearer the job you want

Student journalism The Student Publication Association covers the UK and Ireland and provides support, training and a chance to showcase work. Journo Resources provides information on how to break into journalism, including a recent fees

guide and list of graduate trainee schemes.

Develop a specialism Suzanne Franks, head of journalism at City University in London, suggests working for business to business magazines. She recalls one graduate who

the proportion of recently qualifieds working in PR and communications (18 per cent), compared with one per cent in a survey in 2012. One reason is pay. A report by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in 2017 showed the average salary of a PR professional had risen to £50,447 (£66,102 in London). Nearly one in four aged 25-34 earned £40,000-£59,999. With local newspaper staff striking over low pay and a

survey last year showing one in three freelancers is in receipt of state benefits, for many, PR seems a sensible option. Jem Collins, editor of Journo Resources, which offers

support to journalists starting out, believes a lot of graduates become demoralised when they cannot get a job. More than 300 local papers have closed in the past decade. “Good jobs are hard to come by and it’s easy to see why

you’d move into an industry which is easier to crack. There’s this bizarre idea you should be grateful for any journalism job, regardless of the conditions, which I

joined Inside Housing and broke stories on Grenfell Tower. “They carved out an area and were in a great position to track that story.”

Consider other roles Tim Holmes, senior lecturer in the Centre for Journalism at Cardiff University, recalls a graduate who worked in customer engagement at online fashion store ASOS, to bring people to its website. “ASOS had brought

together a huge number of talented, creative people. It was like all the best bits of being on a really good publication – exciting, visual and creative, but they were getting paid a lot more.”

Get support Check out Facebook groups such as The No1 Freelance Ladies’ Buddy Agency and A Few Good Hacks where journalists share advice on fees, pitching and

opportunities. The Celebrity Interview Club lists celebs available for interviews.

Freelance Freelancing is a good way to build a portfolio, combined with shifts, copywriting, lecturing or PR for extra income.

Boost skills Broaden your skills. The NUJ offers courses: see www.

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