Job Description: Staff Writer


Staff writers are needed at a variety of organizations, not just newspapers and magazines. They work for websites, newsletters, television news networks and many more. The average salary for a staff writer is about $50,000 per year, according to Simply Hired. The location where a writer works helps determine salary. The average salary for a staff writer in New York City is $63,000, while the salary for a staff writer in Salt Lake City is $48,000.


  • Before a staff writer can write an article, he has to know his subject. Researching is a large part of a staff writer's job responsibility, so he must show broad-based ability, including making Internet searches, using databases and collecting information from public records, such as police reports, property transfer records and other documents.


  • An effective staff writer must master the art of interviewing. A newspaper staff writer, in particular, should be adept at interviewing diverse types. He may interview a police chief for one story and a heart surgeon for the next. A staff writer for an internal newsletter, on the other hand, is more likely to interview executives or managers. In any case, the staff writer who does his research will have a better understanding of what kinds of questions to ask.


  • Writing quality should be clear and concise, because this is not the forum for creative prose. A staff writer may write short or long articles, Internet content and different versions of an article for different audiences. A staff writer should understand how to use subject-verb agreement, avoid passive voice and use concrete nouns and vivid verbs. It is also vital to avoid wordiness.

Work with Designers

  • A staff writer is responsible for working with print or Web publication designers to create an aesthetically-pleasing package. It is all about discussing an article's main points and what is important to the story. Thus, the designer can use these elements to create an attractive story package that will grab reader attention.


  • Although most staffs have one or more copy editors, staff writers are also responsible for doing some editing themselves. In addition to editing their own work before turning it in, staff writers often edit the work of others. They are expected to both give and receive feedback and make appropriate changes.


  • A four-year college degree is typically required. A communications degree with an emphasis in journalism or English can be helpful when applying for a job. Though there are places hiring entry-level staff writers, the longer a writer works, the more he is able to apply for positions requiring more specific experience. Some staff writer positions at technical magazines or newsletters require experience writing about topics specific to the organization's mission.

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