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News Reporter - Job Profile

About The Role

The focus of the Reporter’s role in Radio is to find and tell the stories that make up the news or current affairs output for the station or organisation for which they work. Reporters may work for a variety of different outlets, ranging from single local radio stations to international news organisations – and their related websites. They may be part of a small local team, or based in a regional or national newsroom, or in a foreign bureau. Some Reporters may also work from home, utilising broadband and other technology to supply material to broadcasters or other employers.

In Commercial Radio the job titles Reporter, Journalist or Broadcast Journalist may be used for fairly similar roles according to the practice of the particular station or news organisation. The BBC employs Reporters, News Correspondents and specialist Correspondents with expertise in particular fields, and the distinction between Reporters or Correspondents and Broadcast Journalists is greater.

What Is The Job?

Radio Reporters identify and research news stories then present them on air to a wide range of different audiences. Some of their work is office or newsroom-based, but they are expected to spend much of their time out and about gathering information, witnessing and recording events, and interviewing those involved. They may report live from events as they unfold, or record and edit material to create pre-recorded items for inclusion in news bulletins, or produce longer features or documentaries.

Radio Reporters may be required to work a variety of shift patterns – including night shifts, weekends and holidays. They must be prepared to travel, sometimes long distances, at any hour of the day or night, to research and report on events. Reporters may cover a wide range of stories, or focus on a specialist area such as politics, finance, sport or foreign affairs. They may be assigned to specific stories, but they are also responsible for generating ideas, researching background data, and assessing the value and accuracy of ideas and information from other sources. They must also pitch ideas and present news items for consideration by Editors, Commissioners, or other decision makers.

Radio Reporters carry out thorough research into all item ideas, including using personal contacts, identifying relevant background articles and features, suitable interviewees and locations, and relevant audio archive material. They should know how to access, evaluate and use all relevant information sources and, in some cases, image sources including libraries, archives, the internet, and academic and other research documents. They are expected to understand and comply with media law, regulation and industry codes. They prepare questions, and where possible brief interviewees in advance. They conduct both live and recorded interviews and gather suitable illustrative and background material to enable them to tell a story with sound. Increasingly Radio Reporters may also be required to take photographs or shoot basic video footage to illustrate their story on websites.

They should be able to operate a radio studio and be able to record audio both in a studio and on location. They must also be able to identify equipment and other resource requirements so that they are properly technically equipped to record required interviews and other audio material. Once the material has been recorded onto the required format, or acquired from other sources, Reporters edit the material - selecting relevant sections of interviews and other materials - using suitable computer editing software packages. They must ensure that they meet the timing and duration requirements of each item, segment or programme. They may also have to present precisely timed live on air links into previously edited packages. In addition, some Reporters in Radio may be required to write material for websites, blogs or other platforms, and to prepare visual images and video footage as well as audio material for online use.

Typical Career Routes

There are broadly three entry routes into Reporting in Radio: traineeships offered by a few of the larger employers; moving into radio after first working as a print journalist; or completing an accredited pre-entry degree or post-graduate qualification. Employers also look for evidence of interest in, and hands-on experience of, radio broadcasting, particularly skills gained through community radio, student or hospital radio. Some well-established specialist print journalists may be recruited at a very senior level into broadcasting because of their expertise in a given field.

Career progression often involves moving to a larger station, to a programme with a wider audience or from a local to a regional or national service. Reporters may also specialise in a particular field such as politics, finance and business, or sport; or they may become foreign correspondents based abroad. Some may move into Presenting, or pursue an alternative route becoming Bulletin or Programme Editors, or taking up Programme Production or Management roles.

Essential Knowledge And Skills

Reporters need the following:
a sense of what makes a good news story
ability to generate original ideas and to think creatively about how to communicate them
excellent writing and story-telling skills which they can adapt for different audiences and platforms
an understanding of how to use their voice to communicate effectively with listeners
knowledge of the Radio market, different station and programme styles and audience demographics
curiosity and inquisitiveness, a willingness to ask questions but also to listen
the confidence and tenacity to pursue information, overcome obstacles and pitch ideas to senior colleagues
self-motivation and adaptability
ability to work independently but also as part of a team
ability to work effectively under pressure, react quickly and meet tight deadlines
ability to cope with the demands of live reporting and interviewing
determination, diplomacy and excellent interpersonal skills
empathy and patience, the ability to build rapport and draw information from people
ability to maintain objectivity in order to be fair and balanced in the treatment of stories
an interest in news and current affairs and good general knowledge
a thorough knowledge of the law, ethics and industry regulation as they affect radio and the practice of journalism
knowledge of when it is necessary and how to acquire the relevant clearances and licenses, including copyright and music clearances
knowledge of the requirements of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures
a high level of IT skills – particularly good word-processing and data handling skills
the ability to learn how to use a variety of recording equipment and to operate different radio studios
ability to conduct effective internet research, use relevant computer software for audio editing, and, when necessary, to manipulate visual images or edit video, and upload all such material for use on websites

Training & Qualifications

Although a degree may not always be essential, the majority of Reporters are graduates. However, Radio employers do not necessarily expect this to be in a media-related subject, and may even prefer their recruits to have degrees in other disciplines. Specialist knowledge in fields such as politics, business, science or languages may be advantageous - particularly for those wishing to become specialist Reporters or Correspondents

There are few industry trainee schemes and they take limited numbers. A degree or equivalent is usually a requirement, places are highly sought after and the selection process is rigorous. Where Reporters are recruited from newspapers or magazines they have usually had at least two or three years’ experience as a journalist, and have completed the journalism qualifications accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ). There are a wide range of Broadcast Journalism courses on offer. Those undergraduate degree courses, postgraduate diplomas and MAs in Broadcast Journalism accredited by the Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC) meet the standards expected by broadcast employers in terms of practical skills and knowledge and have a successful track record of students gaining employment in the broadcasting industry. Some employers’ direct entry trainee schemes or bursary schemes may also be targeted at those who have completed BJTC accredited courses.

Reporters are expected to develop their skills on the job, but most employers also offer a variety of forms of training to keep their journalists’ skills and knowledge up-to-date, and to introduce new technologies. This training may be offered in-house or supplied by external providers depending on the size and structure of different Radio organizations and employers. Colleges and private training providers also offer a range of short courses which support the professional development of individual Reporters, and may offer opportunities for them to gain promotion or to change career direction.

What Can I Expect To Get Paid?

Depending on the group you can expect to be paid anything from £14,000 to £30,000

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