BJW guide to writing a cover letter

30 11 2010

“Journalism is a contact sport. If you’ve seen a job ad, so have 150 other people. And the employer
has often got someone in mind anyway.” Alan Geere, Editor in Chief, Northcliffe Newspapers South

But it is still worth applying for job ads, if you do it right.

First the email. Do NOT write:

Dear Sir or Madam

“I am emailing you with regard to the vacancy for a trainee reporter at the Woking Womble. I am
a hard-working, ambitious, (insert a bunch of other vague adjectives here) and I feel I have a lot to

MA Multimedia student at Brighton Journalist Works, Harry Cockburn pleased Alan Geere with this attempt:

Dear Alan,

My name is Harry Cockburn and I am a living powerhouse of journalistic ideas
and ambition. Not only would Northcliffe benefit from my capacious outpouring
of quality copy, but I would be able to afford to buy some food and pay my

I am NCTJ qualified and have written articles in the past for the Bristol
Evening Post, The Bath Chronicle, The Herne Bay Gazette, I was a columnist at
the university paper, edited my own paper and worked on the audio editing part
of the Economist newspaper.

Potential ideas for stories I have identified are:
-Bee keeping in Kent
-Arts cuts.

To sum up: show off your journalistic talents in the letter, tell the editor something about yourself
which is quantifiable and specific with real hard facts and ideas – showcase your skills in short pithy
lively sentences. If you can’t – is journalism for you?

And for goodness sake check your copy!




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