If there is anything more perplexing to a budding journalist than a resume, it’s the cover letter. I’ve found that these young reporters are often more comfortable telling stories about others as opposed to talking about themselves. It’s the nature of our business.
When working with students, I find that they have a hard time writing a decent cover letter because there has not been enough research done on the position and/or company. When employers are interviewing candidates, it is plainly evident which applicants are knowledgeable about the company and which only read the job posting. By doing thorough research, it will be easier for you to identify how you best fit with the strategic vision of the company and identify any intiatives that you would like to be a part of should you get the job.
Below are some sample cover letters I have compiled and detailed tips from reputable sources.
Successful Sample Cover Letters
- Job for Washington Post
- Internship St. Petersberg Times
- Job for UT Health Science Center in Public Relations
- Reporting Job for law blog
How to Write a Journalism cover Letter
The letter should consist of three or four brief paragraphs:
OPENING PARAGRAPH: Give the basics.
* Why you’re writing. You’re writing to apply for the job or internship opening at XX publication. If a professor or other contact knows the editor to whom you’re writing and has told you to mention his/her name, do that in the first sentence.
* “Where” you are right now [FOR INTERNSHIP: “I’m currently a student at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, where I specialize in xxxxx,” or some such. FOR JOB: “In mid-December, I’ll be graduating from the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, where I specialize in xxxxx.”] Think about omitting the specialty if it doesn’t relate to the job or internship you’re after.
*Add something to suggest what makes you a good fit for the job — without using those words. [“While a student here, I’ve discovered hyperlocal reporting — freelancing for xxxx and completing a summer internship at xxxx. For me, this kind of journalism combines the best of xxxxx and xxxxx.”] OR: [“I arrived at J-school with a print background but quickly fell in love with radio, interning at xxxxx and xxxx.” etc. ]
MIDDLE PARAGRAPH(S): Here’s where you describe, in two sentences max, your relevant qualifications. Don’t just repeat what’s on your resume; flesh out the most interesting work you’ve done — before and during J-school.
The middle part is also the place to clarify information on your resume, if need be [“Although most of my experience has been at weeklies, I’ve been meeting daily — sometimes hourly — deadlines at my internship at xxxx. So I feel ready to take on breaking news stories.”]
Finally, this middle graf (or grafs) should reflect your interest in the outlet. A sentence or two is fine. Be specific: Don’t praise the organization; instead, refer knowledgeably to the kind of pieces it produces — explaining your interest and your grounding in these subjects. [“I follow your education coverage religiously and would love the chance to contribute to it. I covered school issues in my urban reporting class and at my internship at xxx; I’m fascinated by the subject and think I now have a solid understanding of what covering it entails.”]
CLOSING PARAGRAPH: End by keeping the door open. Mention any enclosures or attachments (resume, references, clips). “Attached [or enclosed] are xxxxx.” Your final sentence should be courteous: “Thank you for your consideration.” Don’t say that you’ll be calling to set up an interview (that’s the employer’s choice) or that you “hope to hear” from someone “soon.”
For more info go to CUNY’s website