Career Path Options for a Reporter

The average value of the Bachelor degree needed to become a Reporters and correspondents is $781,382.00.

Points of Interest

News reporting and correspondence is one of the most competitive industries in the country. Jobs in large markets, with the highest profiles, are the most desirable and toughest to obtain. The average salary for news reporters is not very high, yet the workers endure many long and erratic hours.

Nature of the Work

News reporting and correspondence involves gathering facts, background information, and opinions about stories that are of interest to the public. Reporters and correspondents may work in either print journalism (newspapers, magazines, online) or television (network news or cable news outlets). In print, the writer is responsible for gathering and checking facts, and organizing them in a logical, literate way. As the industry has consolidated, the writer has become responsible for more aspects of the article, sometimes including the layout and the accompanying photographs. In television, journalists have increasingly more responsibilities.

They must gather facts about the story, interview sources, and edit packages to follow live shots at a location relevant to the story. This new approach is called the “one-man band” technique. In many cases, the only help they have is one photographer/camera operator. Reporters at newspapers and stations often specialize in a type of news, such as weather, sports, or entertainment. There are also general assignment reporters, which may cover any topic, and usually cover breaking general news.

reporters correspondents

Newspapers also feature opinions sections, in which editorial writers give their views on major topics of the day. Editorial writers are often persuasive and antagonistic, as their goal is to keep readers interested and make them respond. Foreign correspondents are often stationed in a country for a period of time during an ongoing news story, to give regular reports back to the newspaper or station. With the increase in technological ability of recent years, including satellite feeds and the Internet, foreign correspondents have become more able to report up-to-the-minute news, keeping their home country involved in matters around the world.

Working in the news requires a great deal of teamwork. Reporters may work in teams on stories, which can require workers to compromise perspectives and visions. Also, the nature of putting on a news broadcast or putting together a cohesive paper means individuals must work as a team. Reporters have to meet length requirements, such as word counts or minute counts, or the entire product is flawed.

The Environment

Journalists usually work in a fast-paced, hectic environment. The news is time-sensitive, and reporters work on strict deadlines (the news is broadcast at the same time every day, and the paper goes to press at the same time every day).

Some news writers have their own private offices. But many work in an open space, among the distractions of typing noises and people talking on the phone. It is important that a news reporter or correspondent not become easily distracted from the task at hand. Television reporters often work outside of the station, so they must deal with distractions from passersby and other events going on around them. They also must be able to deal with changes to plans, as the world around them will sometimes deter their plans (for instance, a perfect location for a live shot may be unavailable for some reason).

Hours

Hours for journalists vary depending on the assignments for the individual. In broadcast, reporters either work for the morning news, the midday news, or the evening news. This means their schedules may range from 3:00 AM to 11:00 AM, to 4:00 PM to 1:00 AM. For foreign correspondents, the work may not stop while they are in the foreign country. They must remain ready to send news back to the parent network at any time. Print is similar in that many reporters are assigned to either a morning or a later shift. The morning shift will write news that is older by the time the paper is published, but their deadlines may be less strict and thus their hours more flexible.

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

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Education In order to find work, most journalists will need a degree in communications, journalism, or a closely related field. A lot of schools now divide journalism into more specific areas, such as newspapers, magazines, and broadcast news. In the former concentrations, students focus on gathering news and writing about it well. In the latter, students take production classes so that they can produce their video content entirely on their own.

In addition, grants, fellowships, and assistantships in the study of journalism help gain theoretical and practical knowledge of the field. Reporters and correspondents with more training through these programs have a an edge in understanding their field and its logistics. Qualifications Journalists must show prior work in the field before a news corporation will hire them. One of the best ways to get this experience is through internships. Interns are unpaid workers who often take college credit as compensation.

They do unglamorous work, such as getting coffee and fact-checking, but the resume line of interning at a news organization is invaluable in the job search. One may also gain experience by freelance writing or becoming a stringer at a local paper. Freelancers write and offer their work to publishers for a fee that they decide upon. Stringers write articles sporadically for generally low wages. A reporter must also show a commitment to impartiality, unless he or she is trying to land a job in the editorial department (which usually does not happen right away).

Fair reporting is the backbone of journalistic ethics, because news organizations have to report news in a way that is helpful and informative to all. Any potential reporter needs to understand the seriousness of impartiality and how it relates to the public good that journalism serves.

Advancement

In the field of journalism, many workers start out as fact-checkers or copy editors before being allowed to report full-time. So in a sense, a reporter job itself is usually advancement in the field. Reporters can also advance within this position, by getting their stories and pieces featured in prime areas of the newspaper, website, or broadcast.

Some reporters aspire to become editors, and the highest position at a newspaper is that of editor-in-chief. Usually, this is the highest position one can achieve in news writing without going to a corporate job. Advancement may also be considered in terms of where a reporter works. No beginning reporter will immediately get a job in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, or any similar metropolitan market, unless it is at a very small publication in a very small role.

Instead, a reporter should look for smaller markets in which to begin a career, build up a body of work, and then progressively climb to medium-sized markets and eventually large ones. Of course, some are content to stay in the small or medium markets, which is perfectly fine.

Employment

Journalism is a relatively small job sector. In 2008, reporters and other news-gatherers held about 69,300 jobs in the United States. Over half worked in print, employed by newspapers and publishing companies. The best chance of gaining employment for a newcomer in the journalism field is through small market publications or stations. Then, through building a reel, one can begin trying to obtain one of the rarer big market jobs.

Job Outlook

The number of positions for reporters and correspondents in the print industry is expected to decrease in the coming years. As more publications contract their print editions or go completely online, the amount of content required decreases. Also, as mentioned earlier, more news outlets are having their reporters do more parts of producing a story.

For instance, a newspaper reporter may write and take photographs, while a broadcast reporter usually edits his or her own story. Fifteen years ago, they would have had separate photographers and editors. Similarly, news organizations are consolidating by lessening the amount of stories they cover or assigning more stories per reporter.

Advertising

A major reason for contraction within the industry is advertising.

People are still trying to determine how best to effectively advertise in the Internet age, whether it means changing or reducing ads in print and on television, or doing away with them entirely. In the meantime, corporations are cutting down on advertising in traditional avenues, as they do not know how much exposure they are truly getting for their money.

Projectionsreporters correspondents

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, broadcast news analyst jobs will increase by 2018 from 7,700 to 8,000 jobs (a 4% increase), but reporter/correspondent jobs will decrease from 61,600 to 56,900 (a -8% change). This is likely due to the contraction of newspapers and the constant increase in television viewing.

Earnings

In May 2008, median wages for reporters and correspondents were about $34,850, though the range extended from as low as $20,000 to higher than $77,000. The middle 50% earned between about $25,000 and $52,000. Broadcast news analysts can earn much more, with salaries into the six figures.

Related Occupations

Since news reporting requires excellent writing and communication skills, reporters may also be interested in careers in writing and editing. These positions include: Authors (publish full-length books or short stories) Writers (may work in-house for companies or freelance, writing on various subjects) Public relations specialists (organize and promote events or represent individuals to cultivate a public image). Speaking well and thinking quickly are important components of news reporting and oral communication in general.

Some careers that also employ these skills are: Announcing (such as calling sports events over the air) Interpreters and translators (requires knowledge of a second language) Retail salespersons (regularly interact with customers to sell products) Teachers (must effectively communicate knowledge and learning techniques to students of various ages)

Sources of Additional Information

  • A career in news will require a postsecondary education. A good resource on education and scholarships is: National Association of Broadcasters, 1771 N St. NW, Washington, DC 20036. Internet: http://www.nab.org
  • For information on careers in journalism, colleges offering programs in journalism and communication, and journalism education and scholarships, contact: Dow Jones Newspaper Fund, Inc., P.O. Box 300, Princeton, NJ 08543-0300. Internet: https://www.newsfund.org
  • For a list of schools with accredited journalism and communications programs, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Stauffer-Flint Hall, 1435 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045. Internet: http://www.ku.edu/

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