Beat Reporting: A Reporter’s Guide

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Beat reporting, also known as specialised reporting is a genre of journalism which involves in-depth coverage of a topic, issue, or sector. Background knowledge in every field is part of the things every journalist needs to make a name for themselves in the media business. In journalism, there has always been the argument as to whether it is more profitable to hire a beat reporter as opposed to a journalist. Who knows? They are both very, important in the industry. The importance of beat reporting cannot be denied, as the people need the accuracy and in-depth review of news topics in order to make informed decisions, something only a beat reporter can do in their sleep. Beat reporting builds an expert with repertoire to take on his/her required beat. By the definition of a beat reporter, it is easy to deduce that a beat is an area, topic, issue or sector of media coverage by a reporter. Beat reporting helps a reporter build in-depth knowledge of his/her beat, enabling them to give detailed informed and timely reviews, commentary and news reports. Continuous beat reporting will also help a reporter build a good rapport with his/her sources. This will help them expand their sources and media network, unlike journalists who report specific topics occasionally. Asides meeting with the same sources every day, beat reporters fill the gap where journalists do not have the time to cover all stories. They work on deadlines and focus on getting new information for articles whilst journalists chase the bigger picture otherwise known as, the big scoop.

As a journalist, it is key to know that there are problems you can face.  Some of the problems faced by journalists are common in other fields of work. These problems include funds, time and distance. Other problems journalists face include security issues. This is the sense that information is power and can be a dangerous tool. in the course of covering a beat a journalist can be abducted, beaten, threatened etc. journalists in the course of reporting, have made many enemies and are not safe. These reporters also face the issue of sources because sometimes,  information sources are unprofessional and unreliable.

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To guide you as a beat reporter, it is important to keep in mind that you are writing for the readers, therefore, your sentences are to be kept short and simple. You must also translate the story in the sense that you must make it understandable to every reader. Make your article appeal to the human side of your readers and go out and get the news from the source, you owe it to the public. A good beat reporter possesses certain characteristics. He or she must be alert, observant, persistent, passionate, punctual, knowledgeable, creative and truthful. All these qualities will give you a nose for news as a beat reporter. Beat reporting tips help the reporter to make the best of his or her time and resourcing to produce well-informed stories. The ability to factor it all and produce groundbreaking stories is a test of your beat reporting skills. There are numerous beats. Here are some very important news beats.

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  1. Sports

The sports beat is just what the name implies. In this beat, anything and everything about sports is reported. Topics such as match fixes, dates, transfer windows, sports betting wins, governing bodies, players, funding etc are delved into and reports are made on all of it. Sports has a large audience, hence the need for sports as a beat as adequate reportage will provide the audience with up to date information on their favourite sport.

  1. Education

Education defines the lives of the people living in a community. Education is not limited to the classroom, as it can take place anywhere and everywhere. Holding such a crucial part in the lives of the public, educations one of the most important news beats in journalism. With the education beat reporting, the readers get to know the latest on education, journalism in itself serves the function of education. The education sector is fast evolving with new innovations and regulations being made every day. With recent happenings in the world, the education beat is there to inform the audience of the recent happenings in the education system so as to adjust or take precautions. This beat also brings to light the excellence and progress of the education sector in a particular community, state or country.

  1. Law & Criminality

Law and criminality beat has to do with everything with regards to the law and crime.  Crime reporting in journalism reveals the ills and sanctions in a community. From this beat, the reporter will gather information on criminal cases, laws, lawmakers, corruption, law enforcers and the justice system as a whole. The law guides the people and as such, the people need to know everything about the law. This knowledge will teach them their rights as citizens, maintain order, and know the necessary precautions to take.

  1. Politics

Politics is a controversial beat. If a news beat is to test your beat reporting skills, it would be politics. Politics comprises of political parties, aspirants, elections, political leaders, money and power. In politics, there is always a big scoop for a beat reporter. The people need to know about politics in order to be abreast of the political state of their country, make more informed decisions and hold their leaders accountable.

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  1. Government/Presidency

The government is an authoritative body put in place to lead a community, state or country. The president is. the number one citizen in the country and the activities of the president’s office and the government must be reported. Their actions affect the citizens and countries. Another purpose of the government being a news beat is the transparency policy. These reports will give the audience enough information to hold the government accountable.

  1. Science and Technology

Science and Technology beat reporting has to do with everything concerning Science and technology. The reporter covers stories on new innovations, notable people in the field of science and technology, competitions, certifications, news etc.

  1. War

The war beat involves war events, past wars, ongoing wars and proposed wars. This news beat reporting will also inform the world about the dangers of war, effect and causes.

  1. Religion

Religion is a big part of the loves of theist, therefore it is beat worthy. The religion beat deals with religious messages, programmes, conflict, religious bodies and more. The beat also delves into the activities of religious leaders, the congregation and more.

  1. Business & Economy

Business news is a very important beat because it aids the economy. Businesses beat revolves around all commercial and economic activities such as recession, new business ventures, leading business ventures, economic trends and more.