Overview of the media and internet sector in the UK

Author
Dan Mason, Senior editor
Posted
February, 2017

Jobs in the media are increasingly dominated by graduates - so gaining a good degree, coupled with some practical work experience, is often the best route into these roles

What areas can I work in?

Employment opportunities can be grouped into:

  • advertising
  • animation
  • business-to-business (B2B) media
  • digital marketing
  • film
  • games
  • interactive media
  • journalism
  • post-production
  • publishing
  • radio
  • scriptwriting
  • special effects
  • technical production
  • television
  • web design.

Graduate entry roles are often at assistant level and include jobs such as runner, media researcher, production assistant and editorial assistant.

As with most other sectors, you can work for media and internet companies in areas such as finance, marketing and human resources (HR). For more information about digital marketing roles, see marketing, advertising and PR.

For examples of job roles in this sector, see graduate jobs in media and internet.

Who are the main graduate employers?

Examples of employers in the media sector include:

Journalism

  • Bloomberg
  • BuzzFeed
  • The Guardian
  • The Independent
  • Johnston Press (includes i, The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post)
  • News UK (includes The Sun and The Times)
  • PA (Press Association)
  • Telegraph Media Group
  • Thomson Reuters
  • Trinity Mirror.

Production

  • Aardman Animations
  • Endemol Shine UK
  • FremantleMedia UK
  • Hat Trick
  • Raw TV
  • Real SFX
  • Tiger Aspect Productions
  • Wall to Wall
  • ZigZag Productions.

Publishing

  • Bauer Media Group
  • Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Faber & Faber
  • Future plc
  • HarperCollins UK
  • Hearst Magazines UK
  • Oxford University Press
  • Pearson
  • Penguin Random House
  • Time Inc. UK

Radio and television

  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • Global (includes Classic FM, Heart and LBC)
  • ITV
  • Sky UK
  • Virgin Media
  • Wireless Group (includes talkSPORT).

There are a number of directories you can use to find media production companies in your area. These include Kays and The Knowledge.

What's it like working in the media and internet sector?

You can expect:

  • freelance work and short contracts to be commonplace throughout the sector
  • long and unsociable hours
  • opportunities to work away from home or abroad, such as when filming on location or covering foreign affairs as a journalist
  • an average graduate starting salary of £30,000 at major employers (according to High Fliers' The Graduate Market in 2017 report), but for salaries to vary considerably.

To find out more about typical salaries and working conditions in your chosen career, see job profiles.

What are the key issues in the media and internet sector?

This sector can be a notoriously difficult one to enter; High Fliers' The Graduate Market in 2017 report noted that graduate vacancies in the media have more than halved in the last decade.

Major employers, for example Sky UK, HarperCollins UK and Virgin Media, run graduate schemes, but to secure work in smaller organisations, networking and building contacts is essential.

Journalism is a particularly hard area to get into. It's still a popular career choice, but with newsrooms shrinking - following the decline of newspapers and the challenge of making money from online news - opportunities are few and far between. Expect strong competition for every vacancy.

You'll typically need a degree to get started as, despite traditionally being a field you could get into without going to university, journalism is now dominated by graduates. According to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, 98% of those entering the profession between 2013 and 2015 had Bachelors degrees and 36% had Masters degrees.

Therefore, you'll need to demonstrate your commitment by getting plenty of work experience in order to stand out from the crowd. Developing a range of skills - such as being able to work with video, data and social media - is essential for the modern journalist.

Elsewhere, statistics released by the British Film Institute (BFI) in January 2017 revealed that the top three box office hits of 2016 (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Bridget Jones' Baby) were all made using UK crews, locations and facilities.

The report showed that spending on film production in the UK increased 13% compared with 2015 to a record £1.6billion, much of it in the form of inward investment from big US studios - demonstrating what the BFI described as the 'continued high regard held for UK crews, VFX (visual effects) and production services'.

This global reputation, coupled with its consistently strong independent sector, means the UK film industry is a vibrant and exciting place to work.

Generally speaking, the media, including television and publishing, remains an area in which gaining valuable practical work experience is vital to your chances. You should also bear in mind that the sector continues to be dominated by London, although there are opportunities elsewhere - such as in Manchester's MediaCityUK, where the BBC and ITV have bases.