Reporter: Job Duties, Employment Outlook, and Educational Requirements

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

What Is a Reporter?

As a reporter, you'll have the opportunity to conduct research, interview people and present an objective, organized story for publication or broadcast in a timely manner. An educational background in journalism, mass communications or media studies will help prepare you for this career.

A reporter or journalist typically researches and writes stories for various forms of media, including newspapers, blogs, television and more. They help their audience understand current news stories, and must continuously update their stories if new information becomes available. These professionals must interact well with people, since they interview and form relationships with experts and contacts in different fields. Reporters are also responsible for checking their work for accuracy, style and grammar. The table below offers additional key information.

Degree RequiredBachelor's degree
Training Required Internships are recommended
Educational Field of StudyJournalism, communications, media studies
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 8% decline for all reporters and correspondents*
Median Salary (2015) $46,560 for all reporters and correspondents*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are My Job Duties As A Reporter?

Your role as reporter is to be the front-line representative of your news organization. Your primary task is to write or produce a story based on your day's assignment or regular beat assignment. This may require working irregular hours and traveling. As a story develops, you'll collect information through observation, research, interviews and issued statements. You'll need to quickly and accurately assemble the information into an objective news story. You'll need to complete this work by your daily deadline, which varies for print, broadcast and radio reporters.

As a reporter, you'll interview people, observe situations, research material and investigate leads as you formulate your story and determine its news value and emphasis. You may write for a newspaper or magazine, or provide audio or broadcast reports to radio and broadcast news stations. You'll need to work quickly to meet your deadline, and may have to put in extra hours to obtain the latest news.

What Is My Job Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the average yearly salary for reporters and correspondents was $46,560 in May 2015. Newspapers and other publications had the highest level of employment for reporters, who earned an average of $40,860 a year in the industry. The top-paying industry was independent artists, writers and performers, where reporters averaged $65,940 annually, according to the BLS.

The BLS states that reporter jobs are expected to decline by 8% between 2014 and 2024. This decline is attributed to the consolidation of media companies, declining advertising revenue, and declining readership. You'll find competition for reporting positions will be highest among national and metropolitan newspapers and television networks. There will be more job opportunities for entry-level reporters at smaller, suburban publications and broadcast networks.

You may improve your career opportunities by gaining experience and expertise in a particular field. For example, you may specialize in sports, science news, crime, government, business, religion or education.

What Do I Need To Study?

You'll need to complete a bachelor's degree program in journalism, media studies or mass communications to be qualified to work as a reporter, although news organizations may hire individuals with other degree majors. As of 2016, the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications accredited 111 journalism and mass communication programs in the U.S. and internationally.

Your coursework may consist of topics such as news writing and editing, online journalism, reporting technology, interviewing and research techniques, copy editing, public relations, advertising and ethics. These programs may also offer internships that can help you gain valuable newsroom and in-the-field experience.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A few related careers include those of public relations specialists, editors and technical writers. These professions also require a bachelor's degree and the ability to write. Public relations specialists create media releases that introduce and maintain a positive public image for their clients. They also provide information to the public about their clients. Editors are responsible for reviewing and revising written work for publication. They are often the ones to give the final approval on a piece of work. Technical writers write more complex and technical information, such as information found in an instruction manual or in-depth journal article.

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