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Entertainment reporters cover a wide range of stories for various media outlets. Although the name may conjure up one-on-one interviews and schmoozing with hot, A-list celebrities, your rank-and-file entertainment reporters are hard-nosed, gritty journalists who snuff out and investigate news. Like their counterparts covering other industries, they make decisions every day about what's the most important information to convey to their audience.
Entertainment reporting is one of many specialties a professional journalist can go into. They cover arts and entertainment in their respective areas, writing articles, broadcasting news stories or web posts. Their knowledge spans TV and movies, music and radio, the online world, as well as fashion, trends and other elements of pop culture. Higher level entertainment reporters often have greater access to celebrities and may become trusted media critics.
Education and Training Requirements
Reporters generally are graduates of one of the 1,500 journalism degree programs located throughout the country. Entertainment is considered "a beat," or a specialty in many media organizations, which means you'll have to have a few years of general assignment reporting before you'll be considered for an entertainment reporting gig. When you go for your first job, expect stiff competition and a lot of freelance and part-time opportunities. In fact, unpaid internships are a standard route into most reporting jobs. Experience with producing, editing and web posting will always be a plus.
To be a good entertainment reporter, it helps to be a pop culture junkie. You've got to have a pulse on what's happening in television, radio, print publications, social media, fashion, school campuses, business, and politics--and that's in addition to having an ear to the ground in the particular segment of the entertainment industry you're covering. Not only will you want to break news on a rock band's split, your daily bread will be reporting everything from their concert dates, TV appearances and philanthropic activities to what they're wearing. Moreover, multitasking is the name of the game, especially when a big story drops. It also helps to get over being star-struck.
A Day on the Job
Although you'll get more than your fair share of press junkets, interviewing cast members in studio or on the red carpet, your daily work will be considerably more grinding. You'll be skimming press releases, chasing leads, verifying tips and rumors, attempting to get quotes and scouring for "the money shots" for your next broadcast, Web post or print run. Remember, entertainment reporters work in New York and Los Angeles, but also in Dallas and D.C., so the same work applies to "local celebrities" though you may be called a social reporter in some areas.
Entertainment reporters at local and small media outlets can have starting wages in the range of $30,000 to $35,000 as of May 2008. On the higher end, some notable entertainment reporters, like Ryan Seacrest and Joan Rivers, command multi-million dollar contracts.
Angela Ogunjimi has been a prize-winning writer and editor since 1994. She was a general assignment reporter at two newspapers and a business writer at two magazines. She writes on nutrition, obesity, diabetes and weight control for a project of the National Institutes of Health. Ogunjimi holds a master's degree in sociology from George Washington University and a bachelor's in journalism from New York University.