Careers in Broadcast Journalism: Job Duties and Requirements

A career in broadcast journalism may involve writing, producing, editing, reporting or directing the news at a television or radio station or for an Internet news outlet. Common broadcast journalism jobs include on-air talent such as news anchors and reporters, as well as station managers and production assistants who work behind the scenes.

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Job Duties of Broadcast Journalists

Broadcast journalism includes an array of careers for on-camera talent and off-camera production personnel, which means job duties vary greatly depending on one's chosen career path. Careers in broadcast journalism require teamwork, with each employee contributing to the success of a newscast. General duties may include gathering news leads and researching stories, shooting and editing video and audio files, setting the run-down for a newscast and maintaining contacts with local government, law enforcement and community organizations.

Newscaster

Newscasters, also known as news anchors, embody the news station's identity as the most recognizable members of the news team. They read stories, conduct in-studio interviews and mediate discussions on television and radio broadcasts. Newscasters can write, edit and produce the news, and they usually have prior experience as reporters.

Reporter

Reporters investigate stories, interview sources and report on location for live broadcasts. While newscasters usually work in the studio, reporters work in the field to cover breaking news events as they happen, as in the case of natural disasters or emergency situations. Reporters may cover general assignments, or they might focus on a specialized topic, such as health, business or politics.

Station Manager

Station managers oversee all functions of a radio or television station. In addition to making final decisions about content, programming and schedules, station managers operate as the chief executive at the station. Depending on the size of the station, they might set budgets and station policies, manage the hiring and firing of personnel, set long-term goals and maintain the financial viability of the station.

Production Assistant

Production assistants help with all aspects of the news broadcast. They research and write news, edit audio and video, operate studio equipment and time newscast segments. Production assistants work with on-air talent, directors, producers and other newsroom staff to ensure news broadcasts run smoothly.

Education Requirements for a Career in Broadcast Journalism

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many broadcast journalism jobs require a 4-year degree in broadcasting, journalism or mass communications, though experience may also factor heavily in employment decisions (www.bls.gov). The BLS recommended that prospective reporters and newscasters develop a professional and comfortable on-air presence by working at a college radio or television station. Station managers require at least a bachelor's degree because the position requires extensive knowledge of the broadcast industry, the BLS noted.

Bachelor's degree programs in broadcast journalism typically include classes in radio and television production, journalism, mass communications, news writing and production, advertising and communications law. Frequently, degree programs also require an internship with a professional news organization, which can allow students to make contacts and break into the industry, the BLS reported.

Experience and Skills Required for a Broadcast Journalism Career

The BLS recommended that students interested in broadcast journalism jobs obtain hands-on industry experience through co-curricular production work and internships during college or just after graduation. Strong written and oral communication skills, attention to detail, the ability to work under pressure to meet deadlines, flexibility with scheduling and a willingness to relocate for job opportunities are all essential traits of those seeking broadcast journalism careers, the BLS noted.

Broadcast Journalism Salary and Career Information

According to the BLS, the median salary among reporters and correspondents was $35,600, while broadcast news analysts earned a median of $60,470 per year. According to PayScale.com, production assistants brought in a median annual salary of $34,393.

The BLS anticipates an employment decrease of 13% for correspondents, reporters and broadcast news analysts between 2012 and 2022. News organizations' trend toward consolidation in recent years has brought viewership down, lowering the demand for broadcast journalists. The BLS forecasts that job prospects will be best at smaller local stations and for those who possess prior professional experience.

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