Job as a media researcher

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Ruth Mooney is an information officer with a magazine group. She is based in London and helps journalists find information to use in their stories. Published material can be read by millions of people, so it is essential that it is well researched, truthful and accurate.

Can you describe your role as a media researcher?

I work in the Infocentre of the UKs largest consumer magazine publisher. The company publishes over 100 titles. Editorial staff on the magazines use our resources when they are researching articles.

I provide an information service to our journalists from our records of newspaper and magazine cuttings, online information databases and other in-house and external material.

What does the work involve?

I spend time every day on our enquiry desk dealing with requests from journalists for information on a wide range of subjects and personalities. Most of the work is done by phone. To answer queries I use our archived files, which date back to the 1950s. I also use online resources including newspaper and periodical databases, listing of celebrities and their agents, the electoral roll and market reports.

What specific training have you had?

I received training on using the company's specific database computer programs. Also, I went on an indexing course.

Can you describe some research projects?

I am currently working on a database of major events since 1900. I'm also compiling a celebrity database which holds family details about births, marriages and divorces. This is a useful resource for quick reference – journalists often phone the Infocentre to check they have accurate information in their articles on celebrities.

Another of my projects is creating a crime database which holds basic information on victims of crime, the nature of the crime against them and details of the trial. It is used by journalists who need case studies to illustrate their articles.

Who do you work with?

There are four of us which includes my manager, two information assistants and myself. We all work really well together and the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. It's a very flexible working environment. If one of us has a good idea for a new information resource, like my database projects, we are encouraged to research and develop it.

What qualities do you need to do your job as a media researcher?

Good communication skills are essential. I use computers for most of my work, so good IT skills are important. Patience is another vital quality. It's quite normal to go through hundreds of articles to find the appropriate information to answer a query. The job also involves general office duties, so you should be well organised.

What hours do you work?

Depending on which shift I am covering on the enquiry desk, I work either 9.30am to 5.30pm or 10am to 6pm. There are no late nights or overtime.

What do you like most about your work?

I answer so many different queries that no two days are the same. I also have a lot of freedom to develop my own projects. It's very satisfying when I see an article that I have researched in print.

Is there anything you dislike?

Filing into the archive can be tedious, but after a busy day, and if you are in the right frame of mind, it can be quite relaxing.

What work ambitions do you have?

I would like to become a manager of a library or research centre, or move into information retrieval training and development. Alternatively, I would like to work in research in the areas of crime or government policies.

Ruth's route to her job as a media researcher

  • BTEC media studies.
  • BA Hons degree in Information and Library studies.
  • One year as a library assistant while studying for her degree.
  • Apprenticeship as a library assistant with a magazine.
  • One year as media information assistant.
  • Promoted to present job.

Ruth's tips

  • Useful school subjects include English language and literature, sociology and history/
  • Try to arrange work experience with your local library, or volunteer to help a local organisation or charity with research.

Media researcher related jobs

  • Archivist
  • Librarian
  • Library assistant

Salary of a media researcher

  • A trainee researcher in the media could start on £12,000, leading to £20,000 with more experience.

Job as a media researcher

  • Although there are no formal entry requirements, most researchers are educated to degree level.
  • Many people entering the profession have a postgraduate qualification as well as relevant work experience.
  • A degree or postgraduate qualification in information and library studies is particularly relevant to this job.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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