How Do I Become a Newspaper Reporter?

Research what it takes to become a newspaper reporter. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Digital Marketing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Newspaper Reporter Do?

Newspaper reporters follow and research current events in order to write articles to inform the public. Since most newspapers now have a significant online component, reporters may write for either a print or web-based publication. Those who work for online publications may be required to follow any updates carefully and adjust their article accordingly. In order to present their readers with an informed article, newspaper reporters may seek out subjects, carry out interviews and conduct extensive research into their chosen subject matter. Some newspaper reporters may cover breaking news, while others may have a particular beat, such as politics or local news. The following chart provides an overview of this career field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree preferred
Training Internship or work for school newspaper preferred
Education Field of Study Journalism or communications, or related field like English or political science
Key Skills Good research, interview, writing and editing skills
Job Growth (2014-2024) -8% (all reporters and correspondents)*
Median Salary (2015) $36,360*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Do I Find a Newspaper Reporting Job?

There are a few routes you can take when beginning your job search. Many news organizations offer internships for recent graduates that can turn into full-time positions or prepare you for entry-level work elsewhere. You may also look to a newspaper for stringer opportunities - you could gain experience producing articles on an on-going, freelance basis.

Professional journalism organizations may be able to assist you with your job search as well. For example, the Society of Professional Journalists provides an online list of internships, fellowships and job openings; you'll also have the opportunity to network with current professionals throughout the country (www.spj.org).

What Degree Do I Need?

You'll usually need to complete a 4-year bachelor's program before finding work as a newspaper reporter. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employers typically look for applicants with bachelor's degrees in journalism or mass communications; political science, economics and business majors may also be acceptable (www.bls.gov).

During your bachelor's program, consider gaining hands-on training through a student newspaper, a relevant internship or a freelance position; practical experience is often valued by potential employers and may give you a competitive advantage over other applicants. Master's programs in journalism are also available.

What Will I Study?

In a journalism bachelor's program, you'll study topics like media ethics, feature writing, interviewing, copyediting, photojournalism and investigative reporting. Some schools will allow you to select an area of focus, like strategic communications or sports journalism. Completion of an internship or a capstone project may be required in order to earn your degree.

You could also pursue a bachelor's degree in mass communication with a specialization in journalism or print media. These programs may include some of the same courses as a bachelor's program in journalism, like news reporting techniques or editing for newspaper publications. In some cases, you could be asked to complete a final portfolio before receiving your degree.

Master's programs in journalism usually take two years to complete. Master's-level courses might include writing for broadcast media, publishing and Web-based writing. A thesis paper or final project may be required in order to graduate.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are interested in working in the field of journalism, you may also want to look into becoming a broadcast news reporter. This involves the same research skills required of newspaper reporters, but the material is prepared to be broadcast on the television or radio as opposed to in print. Journalists who have accrued several years of experience in their field may also want to consider becoming a broadcast news analyst. In both print and broadcast news format, broadcast news analysts offer opinions on current events and are required to have a strong background of journalistic knowledge in order to provide an informed analysis.

Another option for those interested in publishing in general is to become an editor. Editors curate content for magazines, newspapers, online sites and more, proofreading and correcting articles before publication. All of these careers are open to you if you have achieved a bachelor's degree level of education in English or another writing-related field.

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