Competition will be keen for jobs at large metropolitan and
national newspapers, broadcast stations, and magazines; most
entry-level openings arise at small broadcast stations and publications.
Most employers prefer individuals with a bachelor’s degree
in journalism or mass communications and experience gained at
school newspapers or broadcasting stations or through internships
with news organizations.
Jobs often involve irregular hours, night and weekend work,
and pressure to meet deadlines.
Little or no employment growth is expected.
Nature of the Work
News analysts, reporters, and correspondents gather information,
prepare stories, and make broadcasts that inform us about
local, State, national, and international events; present
points of view on current issues; and report on the actions
of public officials, corporate executives, interest groups,
and others who exercise power.
News analysts—also called newscasters or
news anchors—examine, interpret, and broadcast news received
from various sources. News anchors present news stories and
introduce videotaped news or live transmissions from on-the-scene
reporters. Newscasters at large stations and networks usually
specialize in a particular type of news, such as sports or
weather. Weathercasters, also called weather reporters,
report current and forecasted weather conditions. They gather
information from national satellite weather services, wire
services, and local and regional weather bureaus. Some weathercasters
are trained meteorologists and can develop their own weather
forecasts. (See the statement on atmospheric scientists
elsewhere in the Handbook.) Sportscasters select,
write, and deliver sports news. This may include interviews
with sports personalities and coverage of games and other
sporting events. Newscorrespondents report
on news occurring in the large U.S. and foreign cities where
they are stationed.
In covering a story, reporters investigate leads and
news tips, look at documents, observe events at the scene,
and interview people. Reporters take notes and also may take
photographs or shoot videos. At their office, they organize
the material, determine the focus or emphasis, write their
stories, and edit accompanying video material. Many reporters
enter information or write stories using laptop computers
and electronically submit the material to their offices from
remote locations. In some cases, newswriters write
a story from information collected and submitted by reporters.
Radio and television reporters often compose stories and report
“live” from the scene. At times, they later tape an introduction
to or commentary on their story in the studio. Some journalists
also interpret the news or offer opinions to readers, viewers,
or listeners. In this role, they are called commentators
General-assignment reporters write about newsworthy occurrences—such
as accidents, political rallies, visits of celebrities, or
business closings—as assigned. Large newspapers and radio
and television stations assign reporters to gather news about
specific topics, such as crime or education. Some reporters
specialize in fields such as health, politics, foreign affairs,
sports, theater, consumer affairs, social events, science,
business, or religion. Investigative reporters cover stories
that may take many days or weeks of information gathering.
Some publications use teams of reporters instead of assigning
each reporter one specific topic, allowing reporters to cover
a greater variety of stories. News teams may include reporters,
editors, graphic artists, and photographers working together
to complete a story. Reporters on small publications cover
all aspects of the news. They take photographs, write headlines,
lay out pages, edit wire-service stories, and write editorials.
Some also solicit advertisements, sell subscriptions, and
perform general office work.
The work of news analysts, reporters, and correspondents
is usually hectic. They are under great pressure to meet deadlines.
Broadcasts sometimes are aired with little or no time for
preparation. Some news analysts, reporters, and correspondents
work in comfortable, private offices; others work in large
rooms filled with the sound of keyboards and computer printers,
as well as the voices of other reporters. Curious onlookers,
police, or other emergency workers can distract those reporting
from the scene for radio and television. Covering wars, political
uprisings, fires, floods, and similar events is often dangerous.
Working hours vary. Reporters on morning papers often work
from late afternoon until midnight. Radio and television reporters
usually are assigned to a day or evening shift. Magazine reporters
usually work during the day.
Reporters sometimes have to change their work hours to meet
a deadline or to follow late-breaking developments. Their
work demands long hours, irregular schedules, and some travel.
Because many stations and networks are on the air 24 hours
a day, newscasters can expect to work unusual hours.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Most employers prefer individuals with a bachelor’s degree
in journalism or mass communications, but some hire graduates
with other majors. They look for experience at school newspapers
or broadcasting stations, and internships with news organizations.
Large-city newspapers and stations also may prefer candidates
with a degree in a subject-matter specialty such as economics,
political science, or business. Some large newspapers and
broadcasters may hire only experienced reporters.
More than 1,200 institutions offer programs in communications,
journalism, and related programs. In 2004, 104 of these were
accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism
and Mass Communications. About three-fourths of the courses
in a typical curriculum are in liberal arts; the remaining
courses are in journalism. Examples of journalism courses
are introductory mass media, basic reporting and copy editing,
history of journalism, and press law and ethics. Students
planning a career in broadcasting take courses in radio and
television news and production. Those planning newspaper or
magazine careers usually specialize in news-editorial journalism.
To create stories for online media, they need to learn to
use computer software to combine online story text with audio
and video elements and graphics.
Some schools also offer a master’s or Ph.D. degree in journalism.
Some graduate programs are intended primarily as preparation
for news careers, while others prepare journalism teachers,
researchers and theorists, and advertising and public relations
workers. A graduate degree may help those looking to advance.
High school courses in English, journalism, and social studies
provide a good foundation for college programs. Useful college
liberal arts courses include English with an emphasis on writing,
sociology, political science, economics, history, and psychology.
Courses in computer science, business, and speech are useful
as well. Fluency in a foreign language is necessary in some
Reporters typically need more than good word-processing skills.
Computer graphics and desktop-publishing skills also are useful.
Computer-assisted reporting involves the use of computers
to analyze data in search of a story. This technique and the
interpretation of the results require computer skills and
familiarity with databases. Knowledge of news photography
also is valuable for entry-level positions, which sometimes
combine the responsibilities of a reporter with those of a
camera operator or photographer.
Employers report that practical experience is the most important
part of education and training. Upon graduation many students
already have gained much practical experience through part-time
or summer jobs or through internships with news organizations.
Most newspapers, magazines, and broadcast news organizations
offer reporting and editing internships. Work on high school
and college newspapers, at broadcasting stations, or on community
papers or U.S. Armed Forces publications also provides practical
training. In addition, journalism scholarships, fellowships,
and assistantships awarded to college journalism students
by universities, newspapers, foundations, and professional
organizations are helpful. Experience as a stringer or freelancer—a
part-time reporter who is paid only for stories printed—is
Reporters should be dedicated to providing accurate and impartial
news. Accuracy is important, both to serve the public and
because untrue or libelous statements can lead to lawsuits.
A nose for news, persistence, initiative, poise, resourcefulness,
a good memory, and physical stamina are important, as is the
emotional stability to deal with pressing deadlines, irregular
hours, and dangerous assignments. Broadcast reporters and
news analysts must be comfortable on camera. All reporters
must be at ease in unfamiliar places and with a variety of
people. Positions involving on-air work require a pleasant
voice and appearance.
Most reporters start at small publications or broadcast stations
as general assignment reporters or copy editors. They are
usually assigned to cover court proceedings and civic and
club meetings, summarize speeches, and write obituaries. With
experience, they report more difficult assignments or specialize
in a particular field. Large publications and stations hire
few recent graduates; as a rule, they require new reporters
to have several years of experience.
Some news analysts and reporters can advance by moving to
larger newspapers or stations. A few experienced reporters
become columnists, correspondents, writers, announcers, or
public relations specialists. Others become editors in print
journalism or program managers in broadcast journalism, who
supervise reporters. Some eventually become broadcasting or
publishing industry managers.
News analysts, reporters, and correspondents held about 64,000
jobs in 2004. About 61 percent worked for newspaper, periodical,
book, and directory publishers. Another 25 percent worked
in radio and television broadcasting. About 7 percent of news
analysts, reporters, and correspondents were self-employed.
Competition will continue to be keen for jobs on large metropolitan
and national newspapers, broadcast stations and networks,
and magazines. Most job opportunities will be with small-town
and suburban newspapers and radio and television stations.
Talented writers who can handle highly specialized scientific
or technical subjects have an advantage. Also, newspapers
increasingly are hiring stringers and freelancers.
Journalism graduates have the background for work in closely
related fields such as advertising and public relations, and
many take jobs in these fields. Other graduates accept sales,
managerial, or other nonmedia positions.
Employment of news analysts, reporters, and correspondents
is expected to grow more slowly than average for all occupations
through the year 2014. Many factors will contribute to the
limited job growth in this occupation. Consolidation and convergence
should continue in the publishing and broadcasting industries.
As a result, companies will be better able to allocate their
news analysts, reporters, and correspondents to cover news
stories. Constantly improving technology also is allowing
workers to do their jobs more efficiently, another factor
that will limit the number of workers needed to cover a story
or certain type of news. However, the continued demand for
news will create some job opportunities. For example, some
job growth likely will occur in newer media areas, such as
online newspapers and magazines. Job openings also will result
from the need to replace workers who leave their occupations
permanently; some news analysts, reporters, and correspondents
find the work too stressful and hectic or do not like the
lifestyle, and transfer to other occupations.
The number of job openings in the newspaper and broadcasting
industries—in which news analysts, reporters, and correspondents
are employed—is sensitive to economic ups and downs because
these industries depend on advertising revenue.
Salaries for news analysts, reporters, and correspondents
vary widely. Median annual earnings of reporters and correspondents
were $31,320 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between
$22,900 and $47,860. The lowest 10 percent earned less than
$18,470, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $68,250.
Median annual earnings of reporters and correspondents were
$30,070 in newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers
and $34,050 in radio and television broadcasting.
Median annual earnings of broadcast news analysts were $36,980
in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $25,560
and $68,440. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $19,040,
and the highest 10 percent earned more than $122,800. Median
annual earnings of broadcast news analysts were $37,840 in
radio and television broadcasting.
News analysts, reporters, and correspondents must write clearly
and effectively to succeed in their profession. Others for
whom good writing ability is essential include writers and editors and public
relations specialists. Many news analysts, reporters,
and correspondents also must communicate information orally.
Others for whom oral communication skills are important are
announcers, interpreters and translators,
those in sales and related occupations, and teachers.
Sources of Additional Information
For information on broadcasting education and scholarship
National Association of Broadcasters, 1771 N St. NW.,
Washington, DC 20036. Internet: http://www.nab.org/
Information on careers in journalism, colleges and universities
offering degree programs in journalism or communications,
and journalism scholarships and internships may be obtained
Information on union wage rates for newspaper and magazine
reporters is available from:
Newspaper Guild, Research and Information Department,
501 Third St. NW., Suite 250, Washington, DC 20001.
For a list of schools with accredited programs in journalism
and mass communications, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope
Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass
Communications, University of Kansas School of Journalism
and Mass Communications, Stauffer-Flint Hall, 1435 Jayhawk
Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045. Internet: http://www.ku.edu/~acejmc/STUDENT/STUDENT.SHTML
Names and locations of newspapers and a list of schools and
departments of journalism are published in the Editor and
Publisher International Year Book, available in most public
libraries and newspaper offices.
Source: Bureau of Labor
Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational
Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition,