Becoming a News Reporter: Job Description & Salary Information

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What are the pros and cons of a news reporter career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a news reporter is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming a News Reporter

News reporters, or journalists, inform the public about newsworthy events occurring at the global, national and local levels through magazines, newspapers, television, websites and the radio. If a news reporting career has always seemed exciting to you, be sure to take a look at the pros and cons of this field to make sure it's a good fit.

Pros of a News Reporter Career
Spend most of their time in the field*
Fast-paced environment*
Opportunity to travel*
May have the chance to interview interesting or prominent people*

Cons of a News Reporter Career
Major decline in job prospects (-14% from 2012-2022)*
Low pay rate (median hourly wage was about $17.00 in 2014)*
May be required to work evenings, weekends and holidays*
Constant demands to meet deadlines*
Advancement usually involves relocation*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Info

Job Description and Duties

News reporters typically spend their days researching stories or topics of interest. The process often involves scheduling, planning and conducting interviews to acquire the necessary opinions and information to create an interesting and informative story. After completing all of the necessary research, reporters write a newspaper article, blog entry, magazine piece or script on the subject matter. Part of this process involves editing and reviewing the content for proper grammar and style, as well as updating information as the story further develops. Once completed, stories are submitted and then delivered to the public.

Some journalists focus on a specific area or topic, such as sports or politics, while others report on a variety of subjects. Professionals working in television or radio may conduct interviews that are either recorded or broadcast live for audiences. Reporters working in print typically publish their work through newspapers, magazines and online publications. Many reporters working with this medium are able to work on a freelance basis. In addition, professionals can utilize a variety of media platforms, including the Internet; many journalists now operate their own blogs, podcasts and online channels to present video posts on current events and special interests.

Job Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), reporters and correspondents earned a median annual wage of around $36,000 in May 2014 (www.bls.gov). That same year, the top ten percent of these professionals earned a salary greater than $81,000, while the bottom ten percent earned around $21,000 or less. Employment is predicted to decline 14% from 2012-2022. This decrease in the demand for journalists can largely be attributed to a shift in viewership from television to online news and podcasts, consolidation of news organizations and decreasing revenue earned through advertising firms. Despite the reductions in hiring, many people are still interested in careers as news reporters, which makes entry into in the field challenging and further decreases employment prospects.

What Are the Requirements?

Journalists are generally expected to possess at least a bachelor's degree in either journalism or communications. Employers may also hire graduates with a bachelor's degree in political science or English, if they possess relevant work experience in the field. Initial work experience can be gained through internships while in college; working on school newspapers and publications can also provide valuable insight into this career path. Advancement is gained through work experience, and typically requires relocating to a larger market. Necessary skills for this profession include strong interpersonal skills, excellent writing abilities and the stamina required to meet deadlines and work long hours.

What Employers Are Looking for

Advertisements for news reporters generally indicate that employers desire reporters who hold a bachelor's degree in journalism, communications or a related area. Experience, and the ability to create stories across multiple media platforms are also common requests. The following job posts provide examples of what real employers are looking for in April 2012:

  • A newspaper publishing company based in Kentucky advertised for a news reporter with experience in both print and electronic media. The ideal candidate needed experience with social media, photography, video editing software, budgeting and copyediting.
  • A television station based in New York searched for a news reporter who was bilingual in Spanish and English. A bachelor's degree was acceptable, but the company preferred candidates with a master's degree in either political science or journalism. In addition, three to five years of relevant work experience in a medium to large market was necessary, with a preference for experience as a news anchor.
  • A media group based in Michigan sought a news reporter with a degree in communications, journalism or a related area and at least two years of journalism experience. Candidates needed the ability to work independently under deadline pressure, and a mastery of social media platforms was preferred.

How Can I Stand out?

You can improve your chances of standing out as a news reporter by consistently producing strong content over time. It's also possible to expand your network and viewership by telling multiple versions of a story over several different mediums. As the Internet continues to replace traditional news mediums, it can be advantageous to branch out through social media platforms or by building a personal website. Blogs with both video and written content, as well as freelance articles, can help you build a portfolio of work that can be used to find future jobs, gain popularity with the public and showcase reporting skills.

According to the BLS, if you plan to cover multiple areas, taking college classes in a variety of different subjects can provide the requisite background to report on these areas. Another way to sharpen your journalism skills is to take advantage of the training offered by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). The SPJ also holds annual and regional conferences that encourages networking and continued education.

Alternative Career Paths

If the decline in job growth or the salary is a deterrent, you might want to consider these alternate career paths. These fields provide either higher pay or faster job growth than a news reporting career.

Announcer

Announcers present news, sports and current events to the public by providing commentary or interviews on various topics. As an announcer, you could work at either a television studio or a radio broadcasting company. Self-employment opportunities also exist. Most announcers possess a bachelor's degree in communications, broadcasting or journalism, although a high school diploma could be sufficient for public address announcers. According to the BLS, employment was projected to grow at a slower than average rate of seven percent from 2010-2020, but it wasn't predicted to decline the way it was in the news reporting field. As of May 2011, the median annual salary for radio and television announcers was about $27,000.

Editor

If revising and reviewing content for publication is of interest, you may wish to pursue a career as an editor. Editors typically work in offices, and the majority of them are employed by the publishing industry. Most hold a bachelor's degree in English, communications or journalism, although strong writing abilities can also lead to this career path. The BLS predicted that, from 2010-2020, this field would experience little to no change in employment growth. Still, as of May 2011, editors earned a median annual salary of around $52,000, which is more than newspaper reporters typically earn.

Photographer

As opposed to writing or explaining the news as a reporter, photographers are able to tell a story through the images they preserve with their cameras. Working conditions vary, with travel sometimes playing a role. A high school diploma or its equivalent is the common entry-level requirement, although photojournalists may need a bachelor's degree. Employment in this field is predicted to grow about as fast as average, at a rate of 13% from 2010-2020, which is better than the projected decline in growth for news reporters. As of May 2011, the BLS estimated that photographers earned a median annual wage of about $29,000, or a median hourly rate of around $14.00.

Popular Schools

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    1. Full Sail University

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    2. Regent University

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      • Ph.D. in Communication
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      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Journalism
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    3. Johns Hopkins University

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      • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
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    5. Colorado State University Global

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Featured Schools

Full Sail University

  • M.S. - New Media Journalism
  • Master of Fine Arts - Media Design
  • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
  • BS - Media Communications (Campus)

What is your highest level of education?

Regent University

  • Ph.D. in Communication
  • Master of Arts in Journalism
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Journalism

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Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Arts in Communication
  • Master of Arts in Science Writing

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education

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Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Communication

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Colorado Christian University

  • Communication Studies, B.A.
  • Communication Studies, A.A.

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American University

  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration

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Queens University of Charlotte

  • Master of Arts in Communication - General
  • Master of Arts in Communication - Integrated Digital Strategy Concentration
  • Master of Arts in Communication - Undecided

What is your highest level of education completed?