What Does a TV Reporter Do?
Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More
A TV reporter is assigned to cover news stories for a TV station or network each day. Depending on their beat and the type of stories their employer covers, TV reporters can cover everything from local events to national breaking news. They often must be present at trials, press conferences, and city council meetings as well.
TV Reporter Duties & Responsibilities
This job generally requires the ability to do the following work:
- Investigate and pitch new story ideas.
- Accept and investigate story assignments.
- Line up and perform interviews.
- Cover newsworthy events, sometimes on live TV.
- Develop relationships.
- Update stories as they unfold and new information becomes available.
TV reporters often must pitch story ideas to the TV station's assignment editor or news director. Some reporters have specific beats, such as crime, arts and entertainment, sports, education, or technology.
To gather information and opinions for stories, and to verify information, TV reporters reach out to various people for interviews and often do additional research. It's important for TV reporters to form and maintain good relationships with people who can provide tips and leads on stories.
This is a career that involves travel — sometimes around the block, other times around the world — to bring back the story that will be presented on the newscast. Often, a TV reporter will have a videographer and possibly a field producer join them when covering a story.
TV Reporter Salary
As with most jobs in television, the salary for a TV reporter varies depending on a range of factors, including location, experience, and employer. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) offers salary ranges for the general category of reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts, which includes TV reporters:
- Median Annual Salary: $66,880
- Top 10% Annual Salary: $200,180
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $27,370
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018
Education, Training, & Certification
Many employers look for at least a bachelor's degree and some experience, but the path to becoming a TV reporter is not set in stone.
- Education: Many TV reporters get bachelor's degrees in communications, journalism or radio/TV/film. Earning a master's degree may give candidates an edge to find an entry-level position. Those who want to become specialty reporters that concentrate on a specific beat may get a degree in a certain field. TV reporters that want to cover politics could benefit from a political science degree, for example.
- Experience and Training: Many employers prefer candidates with experience and training gained through internships or other work at news organizations, TV stations, or college TV stations.
TV Reporter Skills & Competencies
To be successful in this role, you’ll generally need the following skills and qualities:
- Communication skills: Good writing and speaking skills are key to effectively report stories.
- Interpersonal skills: TV reporters need to empathize with a mother whose child has been murdered but also be assertive enough to confront a politician when there are tough questions to ask. They must also work well with colleagues.
- Networking skills: TV reporters must develop their own database of contacts that they can count on to help them out with various elements of reporting, such as information gathering and interviews.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in this field will decline 9% through 2026. Comparatively, the overall employment growth for all occupations in the country is 7%.
Typically, TV reporters work in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment. Sometimes they don't know from one day to the next what type of story may be assigned or whether a workday may last the usual eight hours or be dramatically longer if there's breaking news to cover. In addition, the vast majority who report on breaking news events are competing against the clock as much as the reporters from competing stations or networks.
TV reporters must also travel to cover stories; how far depends on the type of news they cover. In some cases, they may face potentially difficult, dangerous, or uncomfortable situations, such as crime scenes and areas impacted by natural disasters.
Many TV reporters are called to work early and stay late, depending on the story they're assigned to cover. A TV reporter is never far away from a cellphone or other device to stay in constant contact with the newsroom. That's not only true while on a story, but also while enjoying a day off. Just as with a police detective or firefighter, the call could come at any moment to get to the scene.
How to Get the Job
GET AN INTERNSHIP
The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET), created by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), is a great place to find internships and other resources that will help you on your path to becoming a TV reporter.
MASTER LIVE SHOTS
TV reporters must be comfortable reporting stories live on camera. Practicing and mastering these live shots will help you advance your career.
Comparing Similar Jobs
People who are interested in becoming a TV reporter may also consider other careers with these median salaries:
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018