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How Do I Become a Newspaper Reporter?

An internship can be the first step toward a newspaper reporting job.
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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 24 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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To become a newspaper reporter, it is a good idea to start as early as possible. Beginning in high school, if you can, take classes in journalism and work on the school paper. This experience will make it more likely that you will get into a good college, because most newspapers will only take reporters with a bachelor's degree. It is an extremely competitive field to find work in, and you will need every edge that you can get.

In college, to become a newspaper reporter it is usually necessary to pursue a degree in communications or journalism. Again, the experience gained during college can be invaluable, so make sure to work on the college newspaper as well. Try to get as much experience writing, editing, and copy editing your own stories as possible, and learn as much as you can about the way newspapers work. While pursuing your degree or immediately after college, try to obtain a journalism internship, even if it is not at a newspaper.

The internship may not be required by your college, but it is still a good idea to complete one. This is because it will help you gain even more invaluable experience and contacts in the real world, in addition to looking great on your resume. Once you have completed a degree program and an internship, it is much more likely that you will be able to become a newspaper reporter.

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Next, it will be necessary to apply at local newspapers in your area. It generally takes some time to work your way up, so be prepared for some difficult work as you start out in the newspaper. Before you become a newspaper reporter, you might need to do some more entry-level work at the paper, such as fact checking or copy editing. This depends on the size of the paper, of course; generally, at smaller weekly papers, reporters do their own fact checking and copy editing, and you might get to do some actual reporting sooner, though probably for less pay.

It is necessary for someone who wants to become a newspaper reporter to be assertive and knowledgeable about his or her story. A reporter needs the ability to speak clearly, and to think quickly to formulate questions. In addition, he or she needs to be able to work well under pressure; newspaper reporters often have deadlines of a few hours, and the story needs to be written and carefully checked before it goes to print. Some reporters start out as freelancers, or "stringers," for a newspaper, but if an editor is consistently pleased with the quality of work you turn in, he or she will be more likely to hire you on staff.

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Discuss this Article

Drentel
Post 4

My grandmother never went to college, but after she retired from her position as a school secretary, she worked for the local paper covering the county school system. So, I guess the right kind of experience can help in landing a position at smaller newspapers.

Sporkasia
Post 3

Animandel - Local community newspapers still hire reporters without degrees when the situation is appropriate. Many newspapers like to encourage high school students who want to pursue journalism, so they will give these students a position as a correspondent.

Usually, students will be given a specific assignment, like covering a ballgame or a school event. Students will be given a deadline and then expected to complete their story and turn it in on time. This is great experience for the kids and the newspapers get some cheap or free labor. In most cases it is a win-win arrangement.

Some of these young reporters go on to college and get degrees, but in other instances they latch on the papers they are working for and gain more and more experience and never seek a degree. However, I agree with the article in that the degree will give you many more options. Most mid-size and large newspapers will not consider an applicant without a degree for a full-time permanent reporter's position.

Animandel
Post 2

Having a degree has become more and more important if you want to be a journalist. There was a time when anyone with decent talent could get a tryout with a small newspaper. I can remember classmates working with the local weekly newspaper when I was in high school, usually in the sports department.

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