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Become An Investigative Reporter

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Working As An Investigative Reporter

  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $70,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Investigative Reporter Do

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts inform the public about news and events happening internationally, nationally, and locally. They report the news for newspapers, magazines, websites, television, and radio.

Duties

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts typically do the following:

  • Research topics and stories that an editor or news director has assigned to them
  • Interview people who have information, analysis, or opinions about a story or article
  • Write articles for newspapers, blogs, and magazines and write scripts to be read on television or radio
  • Review articles for accuracy and proper style and grammar
  • Develop relationships with experts and contacts who provide tips and leads on stories
  • Analyze and interpret information to increase their audiences’ understanding of the news
  • Update stories as new information becomes available

Reporters and correspondents, also called journalists, often work for a particular type of media organization, such as a television or radio station, newspaper, or website.

Those who work in television and radio set up and conduct interviews, which can be broadcast live or recorded for future broadcasts. These workers are often responsible for editing interviews and other recordings to create a cohesive story and for writing and recording voiceovers that provide the audience with the facts of the story. They may create multiple versions of the same story for different broadcasts or different media platforms.

Most television and radio shows have hosts, also called anchors, who report the news and introduce stories from reporters.

Journalists for print media conduct interviews and write articles to be used in newspapers, magazines, and online publications. Because most newspapers and magazines have print and online versions, reporters typically produce content for both versions. Doing so often requires staying up to date with new developments of a story so that the online editions can be updated with the most current information.

Some journalists may convey stories through both broadcast and print media, as well as help manage the organization’s web content. For example, television stations often have a website, and a reporter may post a blog or an article for the website. Similarly, a reporter working for newspapers or magazines may create videos or podcasts that people access online.

Stations are increasingly relying on multimedia journalists to publish content on a variety of platforms, including radio and television stations, websites, and mobile devices. Multimedia journalists typically record, report, write, and edit their own stories. They also gather the audio, video, or graphics that accompany their stories.

Reporters and correspondents may need to maintain a presence on social media networking sites. Many use social media to cover live events, provide additional information for readers and viewers, promote their stations and newscasts, and engage better with their audiences.

Some journalists, particularly those in large cities or large news organizations, cover a particular topic, such as sports, medicine, or politics. Journalists who work in small cities, towns, or organizations may need to cover a wider range of subjects.

Some reporters live in other countries and cover international news.

Some reporters—particularly those who work for print news—are self-employed and take freelance assignments from news organizations. Freelance assignments are given to writers on an as-needed basis. Because freelance reporters are paid for the individual story, they work with many organizations and often spend some of their time marketing their stories and looking for their next assignment.

Some people with a background as a reporter or correspondent work as postsecondary teachers and teach journalism or communications at colleges and universities.

Broadcast news analysts are another type of media occupation. Broadcast news analysts are often called upon to provide their opinion, rather than reporting, on a particular news story. They may appear on television, radio, or in print and offer their opinion to viewers, listeners, or readers. However, most broadcast news analysts come from fields outside of journalism and have expertise in a particularly subject—for example, politics, business, or medicine—and are hired on a contract basis to provide their opinion of the subjects being discussed. Becoming a broadcast news analyst is typically not a career path for new journalists.

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How To Become An Investigative Reporter

Employers generally prefer to hire reporters and correspondents who have a bachelor’s degree in journalism or communications along with an internship or work experience from a college radio or television station or a newspaper.

Education

Most employers prefer workers who have a bachelor’s degree in journalism or communications. However, some employers may hire applicants who have a degree in a related subject, such as English or political science, and relevant work experience.

Bachelor’s degree programs in journalism and communications include classes in journalistic ethics and techniques for researching stories and conducting interviews. Some programs may require students to take liberal arts classes, such as English, history, economics, and political science, so that students are prepared to cover stories on a wide range of subjects.

Some journalism students may benefit from classes in multimedia design, coding, and programming. Because content is increasingly being delivered on television, websites, and mobile devices, reporters need to know how to develop stories with video, audio, data, and graphics.

Some schools offer graduate programs in journalism and communications. These programs prepare students who have a bachelor’s degree in another field to become journalists.

Other Experience

Employers generally require workers to have experience gained through internships or by working on school newspapers. While attending college, many students seek multiple internships with different news organizations. These internships allow students the opportunities to work on stories and put together a portfolio of their best writing samples or on-air appearances.

Advancement

After gaining more work experience, reporters and correspondents can advance by moving from news organizations in small cities or towns to news organizations in large cities. Larger markets offer job opportunities with higher pay and more responsibility and challenges. Reporters and correspondents also may become editors or news directors.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Journalists must be able to report the news both verbally and in writing. Strong writing skills are important for journalists in all kinds of media.

Computer skills. Journalists should be able to use editing equipment and other broadcast-related devices.

Interpersonal skills. To develop contacts and conduct interviews, reporters need to build good relationships with many people. They also need to work well with other journalists, editors, and news directors.

Objectivity. Journalists need to report the facts of the news without inserting their opinion or bias into the story.

Persistence. Sometimes, getting the facts of a story is difficult, particularly when those involved refuse to be interviewed or provide comment. Journalists need to be persistent in their pursuit of the story.

Stamina. The work of journalists is often fast paced and exhausting. Reporters must be able to keep up with the additional hours of work.

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Investigative Reporter Demographics

Gender

Female

46.4%

Male

41.3%

Unknown

12.3%
Ethnicity

White

61.2%

Hispanic or Latino

16.5%

Black or African American

12.3%

Asian

5.7%

Unknown

4.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

40.6%

Arabic

12.5%

French

9.4%

Portuguese

6.3%

German

6.3%

Chinese

3.1%

Gujarati

3.1%

Mandarin

3.1%

Persian

3.1%

Hindi

3.1%

Russian

3.1%

Carrier

3.1%

Italian

3.1%
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Investigative Reporter Education

Schools

Arizona State University

9.7%

Northwestern University

9.7%

Columbia College Chicago

6.5%

Temple University

6.5%

Syracuse University

5.4%

University of South Carolina - Columbia

5.4%

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

5.4%

Midlands Technical College

5.4%

University of Florida

4.3%

Ohio University -

4.3%

Georgetown University

4.3%

Texas State University

4.3%

University of Phoenix

4.3%

Columbia University

4.3%

Florida State University

4.3%

Texas Tech University

3.2%

Webster University

3.2%

Brigham Young University

3.2%

University of Missouri - Columbia

3.2%

Strayer University

3.2%
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Majors

Journalism

36.8%

Communication

12.2%

Business

8.2%

English

6.9%

Political Science

5.6%

Law

3.9%

Digital Media

2.3%

Agricultural Public Services

2.3%

Criminal Justice

2.3%

Liberal Arts

2.3%

Psychology

2.0%

International Relations

2.0%

Legal Support Services

2.0%

Sociology

1.6%

Writing

1.6%

Area Studies

1.6%

Journalism And Mass Communications

1.6%

Nursing

1.6%

Fine Arts

1.6%

History

1.3%
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Degrees

Bachelors

50.6%

Masters

20.4%

Other

19.1%

Associate

4.5%

Doctorate

2.8%

Certificate

1.8%

Diploma

0.8%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$70,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$35,000
Min 10%
$70,000
Median 50%
$70,000
Median 50%
$70,000
Median 50%
$70,000
Median 50%
$70,000
Median 50%
$70,000
Median 50%
$70,000
Median 50%
$140,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
DreamWorks Animation
Highest Paying City
Eden Prairie, MN
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
3.1 years
How much does an Investigative Reporter make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Investigative Reporter in the United States is $70,698 per year or $34 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $35,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $141,000.

Real Investigative Reporter Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Investigative Reporter Cedel Entertainment Production LLC Miami, FL Oct 01, 2012 $66,206
Investigative Reporter Pro Publica, Inc. New York, NY May 05, 2011 $65,000
Investigative Reporter Pro Pbulica, Inc. New York, NY May 01, 2011 $65,000
Investigative Reporter Mergermarket (U.S.) Ltd. New York, NY Jan 09, 2016 $56,700

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Top Skills for An Investigative Reporter

  1. News Stories
  2. Background Checks
  3. Election Coverage
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Charged with researching, writing, and reporting compelling local news stories to a live audience.
  • Process and grade credit and criminal background checks for a wide variety of clients.
  • Received First Place Hard News and Third Place HardNews awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and The Associated Press.
  • Nominated for six Emmy Awards.
  • Generated significant in-depth watchdog stories on issues ranging from legal affairs to social services, consumer affairs and law enforcement.

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Top 10 Best States for Investigative Reporters

  1. District of Columbia
  2. New York
  3. Louisiana
  4. Alaska
  5. Arizona
  6. Florida
  7. California
  8. New Jersey
  9. Rhode Island
  10. Massachusetts
  • (27 jobs)
  • (81 jobs)
  • (10 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)
  • (13 jobs)
  • (35 jobs)
  • (62 jobs)
  • (9 jobs)
  • (0 jobs)
  • (23 jobs)

Top Investigative Reporter Employers

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