How do I become a journalist at the BBC?

Monday 4 July 2011, 18:39

Jonathan Baker Jonathan Baker is head of the BBC College of Journalism

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It's a question that every BBC journalist is very accustomed to being asked. They probably all give different answers, based on their own experience or the perspective of their own area of operation. And of course there is no one definitive answer.

But as an organisation the BBC can offer some basic information, guidance and advice on how you might go about it.

The BBC employs several thousand journalists. At any point in time, people are arriving, changing jobs, or leaving. So opportunities arise regularly. The BBC is engaged in such a wide range of journalism - across different media and at local, national and international level - that it can be hard to know what's available, what you might be qualified for, and how to take advantage of those opportunities.

You can enter the organisation at every level: from work experience to full-time jobs on high-profile network news programmes. A good place to look when you're preparing for any approach or interview is the BBC College of Journalism website. This is a training area for BBC journalists that is freely available to all UK web users, and by subscription elsewhere. It covers a wide range of editorial subjects and issues, and multimedia craft skills.

The BBC College of Production also has a website that you might find helpful.

At whatever point you seek to join the BBC, you'll find that competition is fierce. There are always many times more applicants than there are posts. You need talent, of course - but you will also need tenacity, and an ability to distinguish yourself from other candidates.

Here's a rundown of the official entry points into BBC journalism at all levels. More information can be found on the BBC homepage.

Work experience

Applications for work experience come in to all parts of the BBC, all of the time. To ensure fairness, they are handled centrally. Go to the BBC Careers website for information on all employment opportunities at the BBC, including Work Experience.

Journalism Trainee Scheme (JTS)

From the BBC Careers website, you can go to Trainee Schemes and then Journalism to learn about the Journalism Trainee Scheme (JTS). Alternatively, go to the College of Journalism website's homepage, or directly.

The JTS scheme is for inexperienced journalists who can write well and have a nose for a story. It lasts a year, after which you should be in a position to apply for jobs as a qualified broadcast journalist. But please note that you are not guaranteed employment at the end of the scheme.

Follow the link for more information and details of how to apply. We offer 15 places a year, and choose candidates through a highly competitive appointments process.

Journalism Talent Pool (JTP)

On the homepage of the College of Journalism website, you'll also see a link to the JTP. This scheme is designed to help people who already have jobs in journalism and who might wish to move to the BBC.  

The JTP acts like a recruitment agency: putting trained and experienced journalists in touch with editors who have vacancies to fill. You can be in the pool while working for other organisations. As a member of the pool, you're able, for a set period, to apply for BBC jobs which might not be advertised externally; or might otherwise be restricted to internal BBC staff.

Production Trainee Scheme (PTS)

If you're interested in programme-making more generally, as opposed to journalism, you might wish to consider the PTS. It aims to develop the programme-makers and commissioners of the future through on-the-job training. We offer trainees a mixture of face-to-face training, online learning and work placements, as well as mentoring by a senior BBC manager. Full details of the PTS.

Full-time or part-time jobs in BBC journalism

Many jobs in BBC journalism are not advertised externally. There could be a number of reasons for this - expense, for example, or a recruitment freeze which means vacant posts are offered in the first instance to existing staff.

Jobs open to external applicants will usually be advertised in the Guardian. But you can keep up to date with everything that's available by visiting the BBC Careers website. Be aware that many jobs are not permanent vacancies but short-term contracts - covering maternity leave, for example.

Note that we have added new content to the CoJo website on how to become a BBC journalist and restructured our content about face-to-face journalism training at the BBC.  

Jonathan Baker is Head of the BBC College of Journalism.

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    Comment number 1.

    I would only add that a good number of BBC journalists now work for the BBC rather than at the BBC i.e. they are on freelance contracts. Getting one of these is by no means a clear-cut or uniform affair, but given the limited and perhaps decreasing number of staff jobs available, the best way in may not be to come in at all. So, just be aware that to report on interesting things, in interesting places, you may be best off staying on the outside.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    You didn't mention that it's handy to have gone to Oxford or Cambridge. No doubt many of your top journalists didn't go to either of the ancient universities; but most did.

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    Comment number 3.

    It is quite amazing. That some have been using journalists. Thanks I came across this information on BBC Website. You are doing a wonderful job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Journalism Talent Pool (JTP)-It would be a better opportunity for many hopefuls especially in Asian countries, who would would want to practice their profession really as Journalists. In the Philippines, limited opportunities are given to graduates in Journalism. There are only a few TV networks who give chance for local employment. Instead, they maximized their existing talents in showbiz who are not even graduates of the said field of expertise. Commercial value?! Approximately, 75% or more landed a job in a call center, if not, lucky to find their way out to a teaching profession and spend more, again for a Graduate Studies. BBC, this is quite interesting and truly amazing!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    A well written article. Very informative. The only thing it doesn't mention is that the BBC is rotten to the core. The news is extremely biased, and anything that doesn't fit in with its left-wing, one-world, multicultural, man-made global warming agenda is cut.

    A few points.

    My friend is a BBC cameraman doing one-man news items - he was told specifically to cut any comments that indicated global warming wasn't man-made.

    In the Croydon riots, a BBC TV reporter who suggested that the majority of the rioters were black was cut off within ten seconds and didn't appear on the coverage for the rest of the evening.

    Plus the NUJ has a directive to show the BNP in a bad light whenever possible. So a legal political party, whatever you may think of them, is being castigated by a group of unelected union leaders. And the disgraceful thing is that journalists go along with this.

    Journalism in the UK stinks. And until anti-democratic, subversive organisations, such as the BBC and NUJ and disbanded that's the way it's going to be.

    I got my family out of the UK cesspit last year.

    If you think this is over the top, google 'Peter Sissons criticises BBC'.


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