Magazine Journalist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Sep 23, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a magazine journalist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and salary potential to find out if this is the career for you.

Magazine journalists write in-depth profiles, features and analytical articles that cover topics more extensively than a newspaper format typically allows. They are required to have a postsecondary degree in journalism, communications, English, or a field related to their publication.

Essential Information

Magazine journalists write articles for publication in magazines. The magazine format often provides journalists with the opportunity to delve more deeply into a story than they would for a newspaper article. Like other journalists, magazine journalists need to hold a bachelor's degree in journalism and develop a portfolio of their writing.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Writing experience, as demonstrated by a portfolio
Job Growth (2018-2028)* -12% for all reporters and correspondents; 0% for all writers and authors
Median Salary (2018)* $41,260 for all reporters and correspondents; $62,170 for all writers and authors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

A magazine reporter writes features, stories and columns for magazines. They interview people and turn their interviews into compelling stories for their readers. They have strong editing and proofreading skills and are able to take on multiple tasks at once. They are assigned stories from an editor and given a deadline by which to complete it. They might be required to travel for an assignment or cover a photo shoot, press conference, red carpet event or arrange a phone interview with sources. Magazine journalists tend to be independent workers who are able to work with a team for their particular magazine's vision. Magazine reporters can be hired on as full-time staff writers or work on a freelance basis depending on their area of expertise.

Duties of Magazine Journalists

The duties of a magazine reporter vary depending on seniority and job title. Overall, magazine reporters must follow and adhere to deadlines, pitch story ideas to their editor, cultivate sources, fact check their articles and adhere to their company's style guide. Magazine journalists have more time to cultivate a story than journalists in daily publication newsrooms, so they must be able to pull together various sources for their stories. They have strong communication skills and are willing to do what it takes to secure sources and original angles for their story.

Magazine Journalist Requirements

It is important for an individual interested in magazine journalism to go to a 4-year university and major in journalism. Some individuals opt to continue their studies in graduate school, but that is not always a requirement from potential employers. Magazine journalists have an ability to write well and can communicate with many different types of people. They have a strong grasp of AP (Associated Press) style.

It is also crucial for magazine journalists to build up portfolios of clips to take to job interviews. Many colleges and universities have student-run newspapers, which are a great way to hone journalistic skills and gather up published articles. Interning at a local newspaper, weekly publication or magazine also provides hands-on experience and a network.

Job Outlook and Salary Information for Magazine Journalists

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for writers and authors is not exceptionally favorable, with little to no change expected in the field between 2018 and 2028. Reporters and correspondents, including journalists, are expected to see an 12% decline in job openings over that time period. The print publishing industry is losing ground to electronic media, so fewer jobs are available for writers and journalists. On average, writers working for newspaper, periodical and book publishers earned $59,290 annually in 2018. Reporters and correspondents working in the same industry earned an average of $55,530 in that same year.

Magazine journalists generate story ideas, cultivate sources, research and fact check their information, and meet deadlines set by their editor. A bachelor's degree is typically required for employment, as well as the development of a portfolio, writing and editing skills, and the ability to work independently. The job outlook for all journalists, including those who work for magazines, is predicted to be in decline over the upcoming decade.

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