Reporter  What They Do

Just the Facts

Reporters and Correspondents Career Video

Insider Info

dotJournalists read documents, observe meetings and events, and interview people to gather information that's important to the general public. Then they figure out how to present it so people can understand and use it in their everyday lives.

Some journalists write articles for printed news sources, like newspapers and magazines. Television and radio reporters, on the other hand, write news copy and put it together with pictures and sounds suitable for television or radio audiences.

Journalists can also specialize in the type of news they cover. General assignment reporters cover almost any type of news. Beat reporters focus on certain topical areas -- education, entertainment, politics or crime.

dotReporters work in small towns or large cities. They spend much of their time out of the office gathering information. They return to the office to put together the article or news package.

The work can be fast-paced, stressful and exciting all at once. Journalists are constantly racing the clock -- they have stringent deadlines to meet. They must also be able to deal with the ups and downs of gathering news.

"Journalism isn't for sissies," says Anne Saker, a newspaper reporter in Raleigh, North Carolina. "It can be crushingly disappointing and incredibly exhilarating, often within an hour."

dotAside from the pressure of meeting deadlines, journalists spend long hours gathering information and writing. Those covering wars or political uprisings must also worry about their own physical safety. Irregular schedules are common, as are travel and missed meals. So it's important that journalists be as physically fit as possible.

News can occur at any time, so journalists can work over 40 hours a week and 9-to-5 days are rare. Weekend and holiday work is common.

dotMost journalists are staff members at newspapers or television and radio stations. But some are freelancers -- self-employed professionals who gather and package news for many different organizations.

Just the Facts

Want a quick overview of what this career is about?Check out Just the Facts for simple lists of characteristics.

At a Glance

Gather and report the news

  • This isn't a 9-to-5 job
  • You have to be able to meet tight deadlines
  • Study communications or journalism