Beat Reporter

Beat reporters are journalists who have been assigned a particular area of interest, such as sports, from which they are expected to generate stories. A beat is considered a certain area or topic. Many beat reporters do not consult just one source, but rather, tap many sources in order to provide the most comprehensive story.

How to Become a Beat Reporter

If you want to become a beat reporter, you’ll most likely need a degree in journalism in order to learn reporting and writing skills. An internship at your local newspaper is a great first step towards landing a career in this field after you’ve earned your degree or while attending classes. The job of a reporter is mainly to write so you’ll need solid writing skills with a real passion for chasing a story. Additional tasks often include the following, according to O*Net OnLine:

  • Report news stories for publication or broadcast, describing the background and details of events.
  • Arrange interviews with people who can provide information about a story.
  • Review copy and correct errors in content, grammar, and punctuation, following prescribed editorial style and formatting guidelines.
  • Review and evaluate notes taken about event aspects in order to isolate pertinent facts and details.
  • Determine a story’s emphasis, length, and format, and organize material accordingly.
  • Research and analyze background information related to stories in order to be able to provide complete and accurate information.
  • Gather information about events through research, interviews, experience, or attendance at political, news, sports, artistic, social, or other functions.
  • Investigate breaking news developments, such as disasters, crimes, or human-interest stories.
  • Research and report on specialized fields such as medicine, science and technology, politics, foreign affairs, sports, arts, consumer affairs, business, religion, crime, or education.
  • Receive assignments or evaluate leads or tips to develop story ideas.
  • Job Outlook and Salary Data for Beat Reporters

    According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage of reporters in correspondents was $45,120 in May 2012. Keep in mind however, that salaries vary depending on where you live and who you work for. The job outlook for reporters and correspondents is expected to moderately decline, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics. But with a degree from an accredited college or university, you’ll be in a better position to find the job you want. And it’s important to gain as much experience as possible in order to stay ahead of the competition. Apply for internships or part-time employment with a newspaper or an online news site to hone your writing and reporting skills.

    Journalism Schools and Degrees

    Full Sail University — The MS in new media journalism from Full Sail University allows journalists to keep their skills sharp all while meeting the demands required by today's media consumers. The degree program combines traditional methods of journalism with emerging technology. You'll learn how to produce multimedia content, use social media to engage audiences and promote your work, and publish and distribute content across digital delivery platforms. Read more about Full Sail University.

    Southern New Hampshire University — Southern New Hampshire University offers a MA degree in communication that combines courses in communication with a solid foundation in the liberal arts. Graduates of this program will be prepared to enter careers in advertising, business writing, corporate communications, journalism, and more. Read more about Southern New Hampshire University.

    Walden University — Walden University offers a Master of Science degree in communication that combines communication theory with practical skills. This particular degree focuses on journalistic aspects of new media, including Web publishing, online video, podcasts, Web conferencing, and more. Assignments consist of exercises reflecting the material and interaction with other students taking the same course.

    Grand Canyon University — For the aspiring journalist, Grand Canyon University offers a BA in communications degree with three different specializations: digital film production, graphic design, and public relations. Students of the communications program are prepared to become leaders in the fields of media and communications.

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