A reporter is one who observes the passing show in the widest sense of the word and pictures its detail for the benefit of the whole society.
A reporter may be accurate, conscientious, a good citizen and take part in moulding the views of other people, but he cannot play his part successfully unless he keeps his eyes open and his mind attuned to the present, future as well as the past. He is a leader of men in many senses of the word.
He must not express his own views in what he writes-he must know in most sets of circumstances-but everything he writes must express his mind and its condition. He holds up a mirror and how much clouded or clear it is, depends on the truth or a twist of the truth which he makes in accordance with his nature and mental equipment.
A good reporter seldom sticks to a newspaper for long. Usually he passes on to news agencies or gets promotion to look after other aspects of newspaper production like a news editor or a chief correspondent.
A reporter’s mind is like a sponge, paying a good deal of attention to purely mundane things but learning something every day and cleaning his mind of matters not upto the mark. He must organise his knowledge and codify it. He must understand the principles of government in general and in some details.
He must know general history, particularly the history of his area. Though he can pick up these things as he goes along his duty, it is better for him to supplement his knowledge by a planned study.
Duties of a Newspaper Reporter
A reporter is the gatherer of news, and as such performs an important function in a newspaper establishment. As he has to gather news, he is required to be on the move most of the time usually within the area allotted to him.
He has to interview persons and attend public functions and meetings, press conferences and law courts to investigate events of public interest, to collect news and to ascertain news on contemporary events.
The nature of the job being such, an ‘up-and -doing” type of person proves successful in this line. Naturally, persons who prefer fixed working hours and regular routine in daily life are unsuitable for this job.
His work changes daily; as such he should be prepared to handle any assignment and move anywhere. He should have special knack of meeting all sorts of people in all types of circumstances.
A person of snobbish, uppish and patronising temperament has little or no chance of success in this line. A shy and a reserved type of young person is totally unfit to become a successful reporter. He must possess abundant self-confidence, so as not to be over-awed by the rank or position of an individual. He should be a man of initiative and should not be easily disheartened or discouraged.
He should possess mental and physical perservance. He should be able to grasp the situation quickly and reduce it into writing in the shortest time and in a readable form. But while reporting news he must be able to judge its authenticity and then report the news so collected with absolute honesty. The narrative should be attractive so that the readers should enjoy reading it.
He should be able to record the happenings and incidents in a condensed form, as he has to take into account the space available in the newspaper for it. Suppose, he has to write a report on some important meeting which lasted for over two hours. In such a circumstance, he must have an eye for the important discussions/ decisions which are to be included in the report, omitting all other unimportant/irrelevant matter.
He must be temperamentally so framed that he does not get irritated, even if at times he has to wait for hours to meet an important person or come across an event. When a news-worthy occasion does come he should be able to grasp it quickly, and write it out with great speed.
Many reporters specialise in reporting particular types of news such as those relating to political events, commerce or sports, theatre, etc. In large newspapers, there is also a Chief Reporter responsible for allocating and coordinating work of different reporters.