What does a Magazine Journalist do?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2019
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Unlike television or radio journalists who broadcast their stories, a magazine journalist works in print media. Newspaper journalists communicate through written media also, but a big difference is the daily versus monthly deadlines. The duties of freelance magazine journalists and those who work on the staff for one publication may be similar, yet differ in the amount of time needed to be spent on each task.

For example, since freelance magazine journalists usually require writing for at least several different publications a month to earn a sufficient income, they must typically spend a great deal of time seeking work. Although every magazine journalist will need to get an editor's approval to write a particular story, it may take longer for editors to approve story ideas from freelance over staff writers. So freelance magazine journalists tend to regularly send out pitches for story ideas. Staff writers are more likely to be assigned stories from editors than are freelance magazine journalists.

Once a story idea is approved or assigned, both types of magazine journalist will usually need to do research. This may involve looking up background facts such as a building's age for a piece about a local lighthouse or interviewing people lottery winners for an article about winning the jackpot. Interviews may be done in person, but they may also be conducted over the telephone or even through email to save the journalist time. Freelance journalists may be required to spend more time traveling to research stories than staff writers.


Magazine journalists must use integrity to use facts when preparing articles for publication. Although many magazines more opinion oriented than the news orientation that is required in newspaper journalism, magazine journalists are still required to be ethical and accurate in how they express themselves. Magazine writing tends to be much more detailed and in-depth though than in newspaper reporting. A magazine journalist often has more of a range of possible topics to cover as well as a longer article length.

A magazine journalist often has a more open format to work within than the typical newspaper journalism style of presenting the most pressing news first. For example, a newspaper article about a new museum opening may start with grand opening dates and specials, then the exhibits that set it apart and end with possible future additions for the building. A magazine piece on the same museum opening may begin with the writer's opinion on the location or exhibits in which he or she backs up the point with information about other museums and exhibit choices.

Whereas magazine journalists may have weeks for a deadline for one article, a newspaper reporter often has a deadline of the end of the same day. Newspaper journalists must often rush to schedule pertinent interviews, while a magazine journalist usually has more time to set up meetings or phone calls with people involved in a story. While a staff magazine or newspaper journalist often works on one story and deadline at a time, freelance journalist may alternate their efforts between several stories due on different dates.


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