News reporters and correspondents (also known as journalists), gather news and information to keep the public informed about important events. They obtain their information through a number of sources. These may include personal interviews, contacts, wire services (news transmitted via satellite dishes), news briefings, and question-and-answer periods.
A news reporter gathers and assembles this information to be relayed to the public. Newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations rely on news correspondents to keep their readers, viewers and listeners informed.
News reporters play an active role in gathering information on current events. A large portion of their day is spent investigating news before sending it in as a story. Some work as correspondents in offices located far from head office. They are sent to the places that important events are likely to happen.
Whether it’s working for a newspaper, TV channel, radio station or news website, there are two sides to reporting that must work in sync with each other: reporting and editing. The reporter compiles all the information needed to create a story and then edits the story to fit a specific news page or bulletin.
News reporters sometimes work in a specific ‘beat’ that fits with their writing talent. A beat is a media term for the area or topic a journalist covers, like crime, politics, sports, business, etc. They may work in one or several beats at a time depending on the size of a news organization.
Generally, there are two kinds of newspapers that reporters work for - dailies and weeklies. Reporters for dailies usually have less time to find and report the news. They may work in only one beat. Reporters for weeklies have more time to do their research and typically have to cover several beats at a time. They may take photographs for their stories in addition to their regular duties.
Television and radio reporters usually have less time to write and edit than those in the newspaper department. The news is often broadcasted immediately after or during an event. Reporters in this area learn very quickly how to convert information they receive into news clips suitable for broadcasting.
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Early journalistic training can begin early; working on a high school newspaper or yearbook is a great source of experience. It is recommended that an aspiring news broadcaster get a bachelors degree in communications or journalism, and consider taking programs in broadcast journalism. It is necessary to be equipped with writing, reporting and productions skills in order to do this job. There are also many opportunities for college students to work as interns for newspapers or magazines.
News reporters also need to be fast learners. Once hired, beginner news reporters do most of their training on the job, moving from one department to another to get different types of experience. A novice reporter might start with obituaries or report on local police news before being assigned to more important events.
The work of a news reporter is usually hectic. They are under great pressure to meet strict deadlines. Newspapers have to get printed and delivered to people’s homes on time. This means doing whatever it takes to get a story written and edited on time.
Some news reporters work in comfortable, private offices; others may work in large rooms filled with other reporters. In an even more hectic environment, some reporters are on scene trying to get a story while sirens and police or curious onlookers distract from the task at hand. This kind of work can also get dangerous as reporters cover wars, political uprisings, fires, floods, and other disasters. It's important that reporters are able to stay focused and safe.
Working hours vary. Reporters that work for a morning paper often work from late afternoon to midnight. Radio and television reporters are assigned to a day or evening shift. Magazine reporters usually work during the day. Reporters have to keep their days flexible in order to meet deadlines or follow breaking news. This kind of work demands long hours, irregular schedules, and some travel.