How to Become a Reporter in 5 Steps

Reporters provide information on news and other activities via live broadcasts or printed material. Continue reading for information on how to become a reporter, including degree programs, practical experience opportunities and employment prospects. Schools offering Communication & Emerging Media degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Reporter?

A reporter, also referred to as a journalist, is a professional who gathers, analyzes and presents newsworthy information. Newsworthy information is an account of facts, activities and events that are of general public interest. As a reporter, you may present news through various mediums of communication, including television, radio, printed material and the Internet.

Step 1: Get Formal Training

Associate's and bachelor's degree programs that are consistent with your occupation include those in journalism, mass communications and mass media communications. You will complete coursework in subjects like news writing, editing, public communications, feature writing, advertising and multimedia tools. Graduate studies are available at many schools, but they are not required for most entry-level job opportunities as a reporter.

Step 2: Get Practical Field Training

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that, while education is crucial, employers prefer those who also have related field training or work experience prior to employment (www.bls.gov). Field training can be obtained through various outlets, including internship programs, which are sometimes available in conjunction with degree curriculums, or fellowships, which are awarded to college students through foundations, universities and professional organizations. Aspiring reporters may also pursue part-time job opportunities as freelancers or stringers.

Step 3: Acquire Employment

As a reporter, you'll work in many environments. This includes your office environment at television, magazine, radio or newspaper companies, as well as the environments that are dictated by your research or story coverage, like crime scenes, political campaigns and other event locations.

Early in your career, you may gather information for general assignments, such as for covering car accidents and celebrity sightings. This process may entail researching, conducting interviews and taking photographs. You'll then compose reports for publication or broadcast, depending on the medium in which you work. As you gain experience, you might begin to cover more complex topics, like healthcare and foreign affairs. The BLS notes that reporters earned a median salary of $34,530 in 2010 (www.bls.gov).

Step 4: Join a Trade Association

Trade associations generally offer reporters benefits like advocacy outlets, industry updates and opportunities for professional networking. The Society of Professional Journalists, for example, offers resources to reporters in general. Some organizations specialize in genres or industries, such as the Education Writers Association, the Association of Health Care Journalists and Criminal Justice Journalists. You might also join the National Association of Science Writers or the Society of Environmental Journalists.

Step 5: Stay Current

Part of your responsibility as a reporter is staying abreast of current events for the purpose of newsworthy reporting; however, staying current on journalism industry updates, protocols, technologies and related legislative measures is also vital to your daily activities. Some employers provide continuing education opportunities to reporters, though you may also find such opportunities through trade organizations or academic institutions.

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