Careers in Journalism

Krista Johnson
Bay Port High School
Green Bay, Wisconsin


This lesson plan provides an opportunity for students to interact with professionals in journalism. It hones their research skills and prepares them for interviewing. It also reinforces business writing and oral communications.


Students will need access to journalism career descriptions, names and addresses of local journalism professionals, and computers.


  • The class should discuss careers in journalism beyond reporting. Many people who major in journalism in college go on to become photographers, cartoonists, advertising sales representatives, graphic designers, broadcasters, public relations specialists, and technical writers, just to name a few.
  • Students should also be familiar with letter-writing format and basic speaking techniques.


  • Individually or in groups, students will research a career in journalism. They may use Occupational Outlook guides or online resources to find out about training, salary, and job conditions. Students should write a job description report to summarize their findings. Other sources of information include
  • Next, students locate a local professional in the field they researched. Students should be encouraged to ask parents, teachers, local colleges, businesses, television stations or newspapers for contacts. When a professional is identified, students should verify his/her name, title, address, and phone number.
  • Students will draft formal letters introducing themselves, explaining the nature of the journalism course, and inviting the professionals to speak in class. Have students provide the teacher’s name and phone number or email address as a contact to set up a visit to school. Keep an extra copy of the letter for grading and follow-up.
  • When the professionals reply, the teacher’s job is to arrange the visits. Be sure to provide directions to school, including where to park and check in as a visitor and how much class time will be available to speak.
  • The students should call their professionals to set up an interview, whether the professional is able to speak in class or not. Students will write personality profiles based on the interview.
  • On the day of the visit, the student will give a brief introduction speech to the class then turn the class over to the professional. This is a good opportunity for the entire class to use their interviewing techniques.
  • To follow up the visit, the student will write a thank you letter to the professional and send a copy of the article he/she writes.


  • Generally, professionals will be enthusiastic about visiting a high school classroom. However, many of them have not been in a school since they were students themselves and may be nervous about speaking in front of a class. Teachers should explain that just because students don’t raise their hands at once does not indicate a lack of interest.
  • An active learning experience occurs when the professionals bring samples of their work, hand-outs, demonstrations or even lessons. Talk to them in advance about what students have learned already and what would be valuable for them to learn.
  • Not all professionals will respond or be able to visit. Particularly, sports writers and broadcasters keep schedules that will not accommodate school hours. In this case, a student may set up a job shadowing experience. If a visit is impossible, the student may still present his/her speech to the class, conduct the interview over the phone and write the thank-you letter.
  • Take a photo of the guest speaker and the student together for a wall of fame in the classroom.
  • If budget allows, give the guest a T-shirt or mug with your school’s name on it. Some television anchors may display it on the news that night.


Students should keep a collection of their work for this project, including:

  • Job description report
  • Invitation letter
  • Personality profile
  • Thank you letter
  • Notes from the introduction speech

Grade will be based on meeting deadlines, completeness, accuracy, and format.


Other Resources: