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This page contains all notes on journalism over and above what we put in our career profile. Read the profile first, here.

Profile type


What is this career path?

What is journalism?

"Journalism is the dissemination of verifiable information through public media." [1]

"The journalist places the public good above all else and uses certain methods – the foundation of which is a discipline of verification – to gather and assess what he or she finds."[2]

"This “journalistic truth” is a process that begins with the professional discipline of assembling and verifying facts. Then journalists try to convey a fair and reliable account of their meaning, subject to further investigation."[3]

"Seeking out multiple witnesses, disclosing as much as possible about sources, or asking various sides for comment, all signal such standards. This discipline of verification is what separates journalism from other forms of communication such as propaganda, advertising, fiction, or entertainment."[4]


In newspapers, magazines, internet news organisations and television and radio broadcast companies the progression often looks like this:

Reporter -> Correspondent -> Columnist -> Editorial Writer -> Editor [5]


Science writer

What are the people like?

Personal fit

Entry requirements.

Who should especially consider this?

What does it take to progress?


Career capital

Common exits


Exploration value

Role impact

Direct impact potential

"That value flows from its purpose, to provide people with verified information they can use to make better decisions" [6]

"The purpose of journalism is thus to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments." [7]

"Journalism has an unusual capacity to serve as watchdog over those whose power and position most affect citizens. It may also offer voice to the voiceless. Being an independent monitor of power means “watching over the powerful few in society on behalf of the many to guard against tyranny,” Kovach and Rosenstiel write." [8]

Earnings potential

"According to the National Union of Journalists the average starting salary for a print journalist is about £15,000 in 2011 and the average for all journalists is only about £24,000 - far less than that of a teacher, so you don't do it for the money!" [9]

"In rough terms, reporters at small papers can expect to earn $20,000 to $30,000; at medium-sized papers, $35,000 to $55,000; and at large papers, $60,000 and up. Editors earn a bit more. News websites, depending on their size, would be in the same ballpark as newspapers."

"Here are some examples of weekly salaries for experienced reporters at a variety of newspapers from around the U.S. These figures come from the Newspaper Guild, the union for print journalists. All figures are estimates for 2010."

"Note: The Newspaper Guild represents about 250 newspapers in the U.S. and Canada. Salaries at non-Guild papers are typically lower."


New York Times: $1777.83 Providence Journal: $1245 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: $1100.83 Lexington Herald-Leader Daily: $685 Copy Editors

New York Times: $1777.83 Providence Journal: $1297.5 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: $1115.14 Lexington Herald-Leader Daily: $685


Advocacy potential

"Journalism is a good path if you want to effect social change, but that change may be defined quite differently than it would be at a philanthropy or advocacy organization. Providing good information and analysis is a public good in itself. You’ve also got a public platform to promote neglected concerns. And there’s been a renaissance of new news outlets that openly embrace advocacy and point of view journalism."

Job satisfaction

"The work is often fast paced, with constant demands to meet deadlines and to be the first reporter to publish a news story on a subject. Reporters may need to work long hours or change their work schedule in order to follow breaking news. Because news can happen at any time of the day, journalists may need to work nights and weekends." [11]



"Journalists have to work faster than academics, so people who like to analyze a problem carefully over a long time (as do many of those interested in effective altruism), developing arguments or constructing proofs, might find the pace frustrating." [12]

Past experience

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Next steps

"If you want to get a job in journalism, apply to any news organization that interests you, including all the major media organisations. Set some priorities – pay, location, size of organization, type of work, etc and select among them based on your top several priorities once you’ve got offers. “I applied to over 70 organisations. I got two offers, only one of which paid more than $10,000, so I went with that!” [13]

Best resources

Remaining issues

If you want to use journalism to promote important causes, how should you build your career?

Research process

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