Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts inform the public about news and events happening internationally, nationally, and locally. They report the news for newspapers, magazines, websites, television, and radio.

Duties

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts typically do the following:

  • Research topics and stories that an editor or news director has assigned to them
  • Interview people who have information, analysis, or opinions about a story or article
  • Write articles for newspapers, blogs, and magazines and write scripts to be read on television or radio
  • Review articles for accuracy and proper style and grammar
  • Develop relationships with experts and contacts who provide tips and leads on stories
  • Analyze and interpret information to increase their audiences’ understanding of the news
  • Update stories as new information becomes available

Reporters and correspondents, also called journalists, often work for a particular type of media organization, such as a television or radio station, newspaper, or website.

Those who work in television and radio set up and conduct interviews, which can be broadcast live or recorded for future broadcasts. These workers are often responsible for editing interviews and other recordings to create a cohesive story and for writing and recording voiceovers that provide the audience with the facts of the story. They may create multiple versions of the same story for different broadcasts or different media platforms.

Most television and radio shows have hosts, also called anchors, who report the news and introduce stories from reporters.

Journalists for print media conduct interviews and write articles to be used in newspapers, magazines, and online publications. Because most newspapers and magazines have both print and online versions, reporters typically produce content for both versions. Doing so often requires staying up to date with new developments of a story, so that the online editions can be updated with the most current information.

Some journalists also may convey stories through both broadcast and print media and help manage the organization’s web content. For example, television stations often have a website, and a reporter may produce a blog post or an article for the website. Similarly, a reporter working for newspapers or magazines may create videos or podcasts that people access online. Depending on the employer, these workers may be known as multimedia producers, social media producers, or web content managers rather than as reporters or correspondents.

Stations are increasingly relying on multimedia journalists to publish content on a variety of platforms, including radio and television stations, websites, and mobile devices. Multimedia journalists typically shoot, report, write, and edit their own stories. They also gather the audio, video, or graphics that accompany their stories.

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts may need to maintain a presence on social media networking sites. Many may use social media to cover live events, provide additional information for readers and viewers, promote their stations and newscasts, and better engage with their audiences.

Some journalists cover a particular topic, such as sports, medicine, or politics. Others cover a wide range of issues.

Journalists working in large cities or for large news organizations are more likely to specialize. Journalists who work in small cities, towns, or organizations may need to cover a wider range of subjects.

Some reporters live in other countries and cover international news. Some journalists, called commentators or columnists, interpret the news or offer opinions to readers, viewers, or listeners.

Although some broadcast news analysts present weather reports, broadcast meteorologists are a type of atmospheric scientist. Many other broadcast news analysts come from fields outside of journalism, for example politics or medicine, and are hired on a contract basis to provide analyses of the subjects being discussed.

Some reporters—particularly those who work for print news—are self-employed and take freelance assignments from news organizations. Freelance assignments are given to writers on an as-needed basis. Because freelance reporters are paid for the individual story, they work with many organizations and often spend some of their time marketing their stories and looking for their next assignment.

Some people with a background as a reporter, correspondent, or broadcast news analyst work as postsecondary teachers and teach journalism or communications at colleges and universities.

Work Environment

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts held about 57,600 jobs in 2012. The industries that employed the most reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts in 2012 were as follows: 

Newspaper publishers 44%
Television broadcasting 20
Data processing, hosting, related services, and other information services 8
Radio broadcasting 5

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts spend a lot of time in the field, conducting interviews and investigating stories. Many reporters spend little to no time in an office. They travel to be on location for events or to meet contacts and file stories remotely.

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts covering international news often live in other countries. Working on stories about natural disasters or wars can put reporters in dangerous situations.

Work Schedules

Most reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts work full time. The work is often fast paced, with constant demands to meet deadlines and to be the first reporter to publish a news story on a subject. Reporters may need to work long hours or change their work schedule in order to follow breaking news. Because news can happen at any time of the day, journalists may need to work nights and weekends.

Education and Training

Employers generally prefer workers who have a bachelor’s degree in journalism or communications along with an internship or work experience from a college radio or television station or a newspaper.

Education

Most employers prefer workers who have a bachelor’s degree in journalism or communications. However, some employers may hire applicants who have a degree in a related subject, such as English or political science, and relevant work experience.

Bachelor’s degree programs in journalism and communications include classes in journalistic ethics and techniques for researching stories and conducting interviews. Many programs require students to take liberal arts classes, such as English, history, economics, and political science, so that students are prepared to cover stories on a wide range of subjects.

Some journalism students may benefit from classes in multimedia design, coding, and programming. Because content is increasingly delivered on television, websites, and mobile devices, reporters need to know how to develop stories with video, audio, data, and graphics.

Some schools offer graduate programs in journalism and communications. These programs prepare students who have a bachelor’s degree in another field to become journalists.

Other Experience

Employers generally require workers to have experience gained through internships or by working on school newspapers. While attending college, many students seek multiple internships with different news organizations.

Advancement

After gaining more work experience, reporters and correspondents can advance by moving from news organizations in small cities or towns to news organizations in large cities. Larger markets offer job opportunities with higher pay and more responsibility and challenges. Reporters and correspondents also may become editors or news directors.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Journalists must be able to report the news both verbally and in writing. Strong writing skills are important for journalists in all kinds of media.

Computer skills. Journalists should be able to use editing equipment and other broadcast-related devices.

Interpersonal skills. To develop contacts and conduct interviews, reporters need to build good relationships with many people. They also need to work well with other journalists, editors, and news directors.

Objectivity. Journalists need to report the facts of the news without inserting their opinion or bias into the story.

Persistence. Sometimes, getting the facts of a story is difficult, particularly when those involved refuse to be interviewed or provide comment. Journalists need to be persistent in their pursuit of the story.

Stamina. The work of journalists is often fast paced, with long and exhausting hours. Reporters must be able to keep up with the long hours.

Pay

The median annual wage for reporters and correspondents was $35,870 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,770, and the top 10 percent earned more than $78,530.

The median annual wage for broadcast news analysts was $55,380 in May 2012. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $27,450, and the top 10 percent earned more than $170,400.

Most reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts work full time. The work is often fast paced, with constant demands to meet deadlines and to be the first reporter to publish a news story on a subject. Reporters may need to work long hours or change their work schedule in order to follow breaking news. Because news can happen at any time of the day, journalists may need to work nights and weekends.

Job Outlook

Employment of reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts is projected to decline 13 percent from 2012 to 2022. Employment of reporters and correspondents is projected to decline 14 percent while employment of broadcast news analysts is projected to show little or no change. Declining advertising revenue in radio, newspapers, and television will negatively impact the employment growth for these occupations.

Readership and circulation of newspapers are expected to continue to decline over the next decade. In addition, television and radio stations are increasingly publishing content online and on mobile devices. As a result, news organizations may have more difficulty selling traditional forms of advertising, which is often their primary source of revenue.

Declining revenue will force news organizations to downsize and employ fewer journalists. Increasing demand for online news and podcasts (audio or video digital media files that can often be downloaded from a website) may offset some of the downsizing. However, because online and mobile ad revenue is typically less than print revenue, the growth in digital advertising may not offset the decline in print advertising, circulation, and readership.

News organizations also continue to consolidate and increasingly share resources, staff, and content with other media outlets. Reporters are able to gather and report on news for multiple media stations owned by the same corporation, while television stations reuse news and material already gathered by other stations and reporters. As consolidations, mergers, and news sharing continue, the demand for journalists may decrease.

Following a merger or content-sharing agreements, some news agencies may reduce the number of reporters and correspondents on staff. However, in some instances, consolidations may help limit the loss of jobs. Mergers may allow financially troubled newspapers, radio stations, and television stations to keep staff because of increased funding and resources from the larger organization.

Job Prospects

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts are expected to face strong competition for jobs, because of both the number of workers who are interested in entering the field and the projected employment declines of both occupations. Those with experience in the field—experience often gained through internships or by working for school newspapers, television stations, or radio stations—should have the best job prospects.

Multimedia journalism experience, including shooting and editing pieces, should also improve job prospects. Because stations are increasingly publishing content on multiple media platforms, particularly on the web, employers may prefer applicants who have experience in website design and coding.

In addition, opportunities will likely be better in small local newspapers or television and radio stations.

Competition will be particularly strong in large metropolitan areas, at national newspapers with higher circulation figures, and at network television stations.

For More Information

For more information about broadcast news analysts, visit

National Association of Broadcasters

Radio Television Digital News Association

For more information about careers in journalism and about internships, visit

Dow Jones News Fund

Society of Professional Journalists

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2014–2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh.