Monday, February 24, 2014

The Latest News: A Career as a Reporter

Did you ever wonder what it's like to be a reporter--on radio, on TV, or for a newspaper?

Reporters generally need a Bachelor's Degree, or a Master's Degree, in one of these areas:

Journalism, Broadcast Journalism
Mass Communication
Political Science

Most major colleges and universities offer one or more of those majors-including:

U of M:
St Cloud State:
University of Wisconsin- River Falls:
University of Iowa:
University of Minnesota, Moorhead:

Coursework will include:
News Writing
Global Reporting
Sports Writing
Public Relations
Public Speaking

Also helpful would be:
Knowledge of several languages
Interest in traveling
Honesty and an ability to report without giving your opinion
Understanding of other cultures
Ability to befriend people easily
Keen Observation Skills
Persistence-Ability to get a story when others have failed
Ability to keep up with a fast-paced work environment

You need to enjoy having to 'drop everything' and head out to cover a story: it is "The News," after all. In some cases, you must be comfortable with a certain amount of risk that comes with reporting current events, whether that means venturing into a part of town with a high crime rate or, if you work for a national news program, dangerous situations in other countries.

Keep in mind that your story and all the work you have put into it, is news today, but tomorrow you must move on to something...well..New.

Do you have an interest in a particular kind of news? You might be the 'go to' person for politics, foreign relations, medical news, or social issues such as human rights, schools, or legal issues. You might want to be a sports reporter, or an entertainment reporter.

Do you want to work for a local newspaper or news station, or a national one? Do you want to travel to other places to report?

Reporters are also used in radio and on news websites. Writers posting on websites must have excellent writing skills, since the public will be reading the stories rather than listening to them.

 A radio station with announcer and guest. Notice the shapes on the walls which give better acoustics (sound quality)

You will notice if you watch a news program, read an item in the paper, or listen to news on the radio, and then visit the website of that program or paper, the reporters also have blogs and use Twitter; the site will likely have ways to contact the people who are seen or heard on air or who write for the paper. This is a way to keep the news fresh and also to evoke 'the personal touch' that allows viewers to interact with reporters.

Some journalists are called 'multimedia journalists' because they not only do their reports, but also edit the photography or film, add graphics, and finish their reports on their own rather than having several people contribute.

Below is the Control Room of a news station--several people are needed in addition to the reporters, to put the news on the air; look at the multiple screens they have to keep track of, and the timers and clocks:
The timer at the upper right (red numbers) gives the time but also helps to 'count out' the program. The technicians have to know when and where the advertising spots are, and that the program begins and ends on time.

Did you know that some companies hire 'kid reporters'?  Check it out:

Time Magazine   

 Sports Illustrated for Kids


To become a reporter, after completing your degree, you will probably need to seek out an internship to become more experienced and learn what really happens day-to-day in this field. Working on your college newspaper, local cable station, and/or school radio station will be very helpful as well.

Here are several links to local and national internships; keep in mind that sometimes internships are unpaid, but the experience you gain is very useful:

Minneapolis Star & Tribune Newspaper:

                            The larger the city, the bigger and busier the newsroom.


Local station KSTP: Note, this job was posted in November 2013, but it does give you an idea of the qualifications you would need for an internship at KSTP.


If you want to try for an internship with a national broadcaster, here is NBC: 


and ABC:

CNN and a number of cable companies owned by Turner Broadcasting:

 Think about being a reporter: it's a job that involves several types of knowledge, it's about investigating and researching, it involves travel, and you never know what each day will bring.


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