What Is a Beat Reporter?

beat-reporter Credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images News/Getty Images

A beat reporter is a type of reporter that exclusively covers one field of interest, like politics, business, crime, fashion, sports or music. Beat reporters are often very knowledgeable in their specific coverage areas, and may be given license to come up with the ideas for their stories rather than take assignments from editors.

The field a reporter covers is called his or her "beat." It could be a local sports team, a governmental body, the regional business community or local schools, among other things. Because beat reporters often focus solely on reporting new developments in their beat, they need to stay in touch with influential individuals in that field and pay attention to outside factors that may impact it. For many beats, this involves forming and maintaining relationships with the leaders in the field and asking them what they see as important topics.