Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

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Journalists and Public Relations Professionals

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Income
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Fees
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Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Chances of getting a job as a journalist have improved, due to higher turnover in the industry and major changes in the way the industry is structured, but there is still high competition for vacancies.

Job prospects are relatively good for public relations professionals, especially those with experience. Areas of growth include marketing communications, employee communications, community relations, and digital.

How to become a journalist or public relations professional

What they do

Journalists research and produce stories or reviews about a variety of topics. Their work may be published in newspapers, magazines, social media or on websites, or presented on radio or television.

Public relations professionals evaluate the attitudes of an organisation’s stakeholders such as employees, shareholders, and the general public, and plan and execute a programme of action to earn public understanding and acceptance of an organisation’s policies or activities, or to help drive actions and engagement from those stakeholders. Communication plays a significant part in public relations practice, and the goal of public relations is to build and sustain the relationships organisations need to keep their licence to operate, and to contribute to their organisations goals.

Qualifications needed

Most employers look for journalists with a one-year National Diploma in Journalism, Graduate or Post-Graduate Diploma in Journalism, or with proven experience in the field. Students may also complete a Bachelor of Communications specialising in journalism, or gain a degree in broadcasting. Employers may also require a driver’s licence.

Public relations professionals require core skills in writing, relationship management, media management and strategic planning. Skills in business literacy, analytics, research and digital media are also desirable. 

Public relations professionals usually require a tertiary qualification in a relevant subject, including:

  • Public relations
  • Communications
  • Media studies
  • Journalism.

According to a 2016 Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) survey, about three out of four public relations professionals hold a tertiary degree. Courses offered in public relations include bachelors’ degrees and graduate diplomas and masters’ degrees. 

PRINZ offers an Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), an internationally recognised qualification. Entry into the APR programme requires five years’ experience (and working at a project management level).

PRINZ, accreditation: www.prinz.org.nz/Category?Action=View&Category_id=104

Cost of study

National Diploma in JournalismBachelor of Communications
$5,900 over one year $18,600 over three years

Average costs in 2016 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. Some polytechs offer zero-fees schemes. Further costs include student levies, administrative fees, materials, textbooks and accommodation.

Some scholarships are available for journalism students, such as the Science Journalism Fellowship: www.sciencemediacentre.co.nz

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services: www.tenancy.govt.nz/rent-bond-and-bills 
StudyLink: www.studylink.govt.nz 
Sorted: www.sorted.org.nz/calculators/money-planner

Where to study

Several universities and polytechnics offer training in journalism. Seven journalism schools offer industry-approved journalism courses across the country.

For a list of journalist schools offering industry-approved journalism courses, go to:

www.competenz.org.nz/industry/communications-and-media/journalism

Competenz (an Industry Training Organisation) also offers a National Diploma in Applied Journalism that can be completed on the job.

Relevant qualifications for public relations professionals are offered at a range of tertiary providers throughout New Zealand. PRINZ has a comprehensive list of all available public relations qualifications available in the country, and where they are located.

PRINZ, qualifications: www.prinz.org.nz/Category?Action=View&Category_id=130

Completed qualifications

There were 155 completions in national or graduate diplomas in the broader category journalism, communication and media studies in 2014, and 685 completions with a bachelor’s degree. Note that not all of these graduates will be going into journalism.

Qualification completions chart

 Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects

Income

A journalist’s income depends on their level of experience, the media they work in, and the size of the business they are working in. Print and radio journalists can receive $30,000-$80,000 a year, depending on the size of the organisation. Television journalists can start on $30,000 to $45,000 a year, and those with experience can earn more than $80,000 a year.

Journalists can be paid per article on a contract basis, and may not necessarily be a member of staff, at least initially. This is one way for media companies to determine the quality of their work.

In 2016, the median income for public relations professionals was estimated to be around $85,000-$99,000, according to the 2016 Research First PRINZ Survey Q3 report. In their first five years of work, public relations professionals should expect to earn $35,000-$65,000.

In 2016, the average income for journalists and public relations professionals together was estimated to be around $59,000.

Estimated Average Income
$59,000 

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

Employment and skill shortages

Journalists & Public relations professionals’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2020 2025
8,478 9,777 12,318 13,990
  2.1% 3.4% 2.6%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the broader category “Media Professionals”.

Employment numbers for media professionals grew at over 2% between 2006 and 2013, and continued growth over 2.5% annually is projected out to 2025.

The chances of work in print journalism are better at smaller regional and community newspapers, where turnover is higher and supply is lower. Employers can struggle to attract staff to smaller towns but income is likely to be lower in these regions.

Getting into radio or television journalism is much harder, as there are fewer opportunities and lower turnover.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
18% 18% 3% 74% $40,100

Source: Ministry of Education
*Two years after completion of Bachelor Degree - Communication & Media Studies. ‘Overseas’ refers to the percentage of ALL graduates completing this qualification. Other indicators refer only to graduates living in New Zealand.

A large majority of graduates were employed two years after completing a bachelor’s degree in media and communication studies. Some were overseas, and a relatively high number were in further study relative to other qualifications. Almost none were receiving a benefit. The median salary was estimated to be around $40,100 two years after graduation.

Where to find job vacancies

The trend for online job advertisements related to journalists and other writers has been weaker than the trend for all vacancies. There were about the same number of online job ads in 2016 as there were in 2008.

Jobs advertised chart

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Journalist vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek websites.

Trade Me Jobs: www.trademe.co.nz/jobs 
Seek: www.seek.co.nz

Career path

Many journalists are expected to work across a variety of media these days, including the internet and/or broadcasting, as well as print. This gives more flexibility in terms of career options. Alternative and independent media are also growing. 

The internet offers a growing range of new work areas, such as technical or web content writing, which is becoming a more popular career option for journalists.

Some journalists also move into communications or public relations roles.

For public relations professionals, career progression is determined by experience - sector knowledge as well as expertise in specialist skillsets. Mid-level roles such as an Account Manager, Communications Manager or PR Manager are usually gained after 3-8 years industry experience. Senior roles such as Group Account Director, General Manager - PR or Director of Communications often require 10-15 years’ experience.

Public relations professionals can either work for a PR agency or in-house. Specialist areas of focus include media relations, investor relations, government relations, community relations, sponsorship, marketing communications, employee communications, digital and change communications.

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level journalists and public relations professionals.

  • Author
  • Advertising Specialist
  • Blogger
  • Columnist
  • Copywriter
  • Editor
  • Radio Presenter
  • Reporter
  • Technical Writer
  • Television Presenter

Other information

Links

More information on journalists is available on the Careers New Zealand website, and from the Journalism Education Association.

Careers New Zealand: www.careers.govt.nz 
Journalism Education Association (JEANZ): www.jeanz.org.nz

ANZSCO

The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of journalists and public relations professionals has been coded to the following ANZSCO codes for the purpose of this report:

2122 – Authors, and Book and Script Editors
2124 – Journalists and Other Writers
2253 – Public Relations Professionals