How to Become a Reporter: Education and Career Roadmap
Find out how to become a reporter. Research the education and training requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in journalism.
Do I Want to Be a Reporter?
Reporters, also referred to as journalists, are news professionals who inform the public of current events. They may work in print, online, television or radio media. Reporters gather information by investigating leads, researching data and conducting interviews before composing and delivering news stories. Those in radio and television may record their newscasts live from the scene and are often required to travel extensively. Some locations may hold danger, such as those related to wars or natural disasters.
This profession requires a bachelor's degree; employers may prefer applicants with experience gained from internships, although this is not always necessary. The following table outlines the core requirements for reporters:
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree*|
|Degree Field||Journalism, communications or related fields, such as English or political science*|
|Experience||Experience from internships preferred*|
|Key Skills||Objective and persistent; strong communication and interpersonal skills are also essential*|
|Computer Skills||Able to use database software like FileMaker Pro or Microsoft Access as well as statistical analysis software; should be familiar with social media applications, such as Facebook or Twitter**|
|Technical Skills||Experience using television or video cameras may be helpful**|
|Additional Requirements||Stamina to sometimes work long and irregular hours under tight deadlines*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net Online.
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
A reporter is generally required to hold at least a bachelor's degree in journalism, communications or a related media writing major. Bachelor's degree programs typically take four years to complete and combine liberal arts education with reporting instruction. Courses may include newspaper journalism, feature writing, investigative reporting, broadcasting, sports reporting, photojournalism, news editing and media law. Students usually select coursework geared toward specific media types; for example, those interested in broadcasting may take electives in radio and television writing. The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications accredits many journalism and related programs.
- Complete an internship. Practical experience can be beneficial to finding employment in reporting. Some college degree programs equip students with hands-on training by incorporating internships into journalism curricula; otherwise, aspiring journalists may independently pursue internship programs with newspapers, magazines, online media or broadcasting stations. Interns may serve as reporters, bloggers, editors or broadcast assistants, among other positions.
- Get involved with student activities. Many schools have student-run campus radio stations or television shows. Getting involved with reporting or production is a good way for a student to gain insight into the field and collaborate with other students on real-world projects.
- Pursue networking opportunities. Networking with professionals in the field is a good way for students to make connections for their future careers. Taking advantage of the field trips and alumni events offered at some schools may open the doors to make such connections.
Step 2: Obtain Employment
Graduates of journalism degree programs may find entry-level employment with small newspapers, magazines and broadcast stations. Reporters can begin the employment search by requesting job listings from their colleges' journalism departments. When applying for positions, cover letters and resumes should be grammatically correct and free of typos to demonstrate writing skills and attention to detail. Employers may also ask for writing samples that have been published in newspapers or magazines.
Step 3: Advance with Experience
Reporters typically begin in lower-level positions as general reporters. As they develop professionally, reporters may take on more complex assignments and move on to bigger publications or broadcast stations. Some reporters become specialists in particular fields of news writing, while others progress to jobs as editors or directors.
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