News reporter and correspondent positions are often exciting and fast paced career choices. They are well suited to those with above average verbal skills and a literary bent as well as a taste for fast paced writing and investigative reporting. Analysts, reporters, and correspondents are called upon to act quickly as news stories break, getting access to relevant information and bringing it together in a coherent piece of writing or reporting for the general public. Thus, communication and analysis skills are as important as writing skills since all three are required to bring a story to completion.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics places the median yearly salary for news reporters and correspondents at $34,850, with the middle 50% earning between $25,760 and $52,160, and lowest and highest 10% earning $20,180 and $77,480. Broadcast news analysts rank somewhat higher, with a median annual salary of $51,260.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
These figures tally fairly well with the figures given by the website salary.com which places the median salary for news reporters at between $28,292 and $34,321. It should be noted that the higher figure does not match that of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics figure because this estimate is only for reporters as opposed to correspondents and/or analysts who are often paid higher.
It is evident from this that there is a fairly high degree of salary variation in the field. Generally it is well paid, with correspondents and broadcast analysts claiming the top spots. Career advancement from reporter to correspondent or correspondent to analyst is a common means of advancing in pay.
Job Description and Outlook
The three basic designations in the field, as noted above, are reporters (also known as journalists), news analysts (also known as anchors or newscasters), and correspondents.
Reporters do the actual legwork of finding news stories and gathering information. They often interview people in the local area, research different angles of a specific story, and do background research. They then write up this information in journalistic article form and have it published in a newspaper or other print news medium or supply it to a radio or television station to be analyzed and reported by an anchor. This fast paced work requires local or long distance travel, a lot of time spent on the telephone or with email and time spent assembling and writing up data. It takes place in both indoor and outdoor environments. Sometimes reporters remotely submit notes to newspaper offices where staff writers then write it up into story form, but very often one individual handles the story from information gathering to write up.
News analysts/anchors often specialize in particular types of news stories and read them on the air. When they receive a story from a reporter, they analyze its significance and may add their own commentary. They then read their version of the story on radio or television for the listening/viewing public. They also introduce live or prerecorded video segments from reporters at the scene of the news.
Correspondents specialize in long distance news reporting for newspapers, radio, and television. They investigate noteworthy events, acquire information, and hold interviews at distant or overseas locations and then remotely transmit their news stories to a news office or read it live on the air. Thus, correspondents often fulfill many aspects of the roles of both reporters and news anchors.
Unfortunately a decline in job demand is expected in this field. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 6% decline overall by the year 2018. This has to do both with economic conditions and with the fact that news organizations are becoming more integrated organizationally and technologically. This means that fewer people are needed to cover the news stories handled by a news agency. Advertising is also declining somewhat, and since this represents a large portion of the proceeds of a news agency, layoffs are on the increase. Though demand will decrease to some extent this is still a field with opportunity and jobs may open up as new technological dimensions of the field, such as internet based reporting, come into their own.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Education Requirements
The standard educational level for beginning in this field is a bachelor’s degree. Degrees in journalism, broadcasting, or mass communications are preferred. It is, however, possible to get started in the field with bachelor’s degrees with other majors, especially subject specific concentrations such as political science or economics. Writing and communication skills are highly necessary in the field, so any bachelor level major that a student undertakes should include heavy emphasis on these areas.
Often students will also gain field experience through internships at news organizations. This is an important part of the educational process and employers view on the job experience as a valuable criterion.
While bachelor’s degrees are a common starting point for individuals interested in reporting and journalism, graduate degrees at the master or even Ph. D level are an asset and may qualify an individual for more highly paid careers.
The certifications for being a news reporter, correspondent, or analyst are usually simply academic degrees at the bachelor, master, or Ph. D level. As noted above these may either be in journalism itself or in some academic discipline related to various types of reporting.
Professional associations that deal with news reporting include The Associated Press, The Society of Professional Journalists, The International Center for Journalists and The International Federation of Journalists. There is also a long list of news associations dedicated to various branches of news reporting such as, for instance, The Society of Environmental Journalists and many others.