News analysts, reporters, and correspondents gather information, prepare stories, and make broadcasts that inform the public 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. News correspondents report on news occurring in the large U.S. and foreign cities where they are stationed.
In covering a story, reporters, sometimes referred to as journalists, 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 on laptop computers and electronically submit the material to their offices from remote locations. Increasingly, reporters are asked to maintain and produce material for a newspaper’s Web site. 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 or columnists.
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. Sportscasters select, write, and deliver sports news, which may include interviews with sports personalities and coverage of games and other sporting events.
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—for example, 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. As a member of a team, a reporter can 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.
News analysts, reporters, and journalists held about 46,700 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of news analysts, reporters, and journalists were as follows:
- Radio and television broadcasting - 35%
- Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers - 34%
- Other information services - 11%
News analysts, reporters, and journalists spend a lot of time in the field, conducting interviews and investigating stories or articles. Reporters spend some time in an office or newsroom, but they often travel to be on location for events or to meet contacts and file stories remotely.
Injuries and Illnesses
Working on news items about some topics or events, such as conflicts and natural disasters, may put news analysts, reporters, and journalists in dangerous situations. In addition, reporters often face pressure or stress when trying to meet a deadline or cover breaking news.
Most news analysts, reporters, and journalists work full time, and their schedules vary. They may need to work additional hours or change their schedules in order to follow breaking news. Because news can happen at any time, they may need to work nights and weekends. They may also work nights and weekends to lead news programs or provide commentary.
Education & Training Required
More than 1,500 institutions offer programs in communications, journalism, and related programs. In 2008, more than 100 of these were accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. Most of the courses in a typical curriculum are in liberal arts; the remaining courses are in journalism. The most important skills for journalism students to learn are writing and communication. Students planning a career in broadcasting take courses in radio and television news and production. Those planning newspaper or magazine careers usually specialize in more specific forms of writing. 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.
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 jobs.
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 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 freelancer or stringer—a part-time reporter who is paid only for stories printed—is advantageous.
Other Skills Required
Reporters typically need more than good word-processing skills. Computer graphics and desktop-publishing skills are essential as well. Students should be completely proficient in all forms of multimedia. 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.
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.
How to Advance
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 generally 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, supervising reporters. Some eventually become broadcasting or publishing industry managers.
Employment of news analysts, reporters, and journalists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
About 5,400 openings for news analysts, reporters, and journalists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
Much of the projected employment growth in this occupation is due to recovery from the COVID-19 recession that began in 2020. However, declining advertising revenue in radio, newspapers, and television is expected to impact the long-term demand for these workers.
Readership and circulation of newspapers are expected to continue to decline over the decade. In addition, television and radio stations are increasingly publishing content online and on mobile devices. As a result, news organizations may have difficulty selling traditional forms of advertising, which is often their primary source of revenue. Some organizations will likely continue to use new forms of advertising or offer paid subscriptions, but these innovations may not make up for lost print-ad revenues.
Declining revenue will force news organizations to downsize and employ fewer journalists. Increasing demand for online news may offset some of the downsizing. However, because online and mobile ad revenue is typically less than print revenue, the growth in digital advertising may not offset the decline in print advertising, circulation, and readership.
News organizations also continue to consolidate and increasingly share resources, staff, and content with other media outlets. For example, reporters working for a media outlet may gather and report news that is published in multiple newspapers owned by the same parent company. As consolidations, mergers, and news sharing continue, the demand for journalists may decrease. However, in some instances, consolidation helps limit the loss of jobs. Mergers may allow financially troubled newspapers, radio stations, and television stations to keep staff because of increased funding and resources from the larger organization.
The median annual wage for news analysts, reporters, and journalists was $48,370 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,210, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $120,590.
In May 2021, the median annual wages for news analysts, reporters, and journalists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
- Other information services - $73,180
- Radio and television broadcasting - $49,720
- Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers - $38,210
Most news analysts, reporters, and journalists work full time, and schedules vary. They may need to work additional hours or change their schedules in order to follow breaking news. Because news can happen at any time, they may need to work nights and weekends. They may also work nights and weekends to lead news programs or provide commentary.