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What is a Foreign Correspondent?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A foreign correspondent is a journalist who reports and files stories from a foreign country. Typically, a foreign correspondent works for a newspaper or television station, though some may be freelance journalists who work for a number of different news sources. This type of journalist reports on news of an international significance, providing context and a different perspective on the story.

A foreign correspondent may be an on-the-scene reporter, working for a television station and filing news stories live as the events occur. War reporting or disaster reporting are often on-the-scene stories, so it is important for this type of journalist to function well under pressure. In addition, a journalist working in a dangerous area should be experienced and understand the risks of the job, as well as what he or she needs to do in an emergency. Many foreign correspondents work in conjunction with a foreign bureau, which serves to support foreign journalists while they are in the country.

Other types of foreign correspondents may not do much on-the-scene reporting, but will instead file their stories after the events take place. In many cases, a foreign correspondent will provide a more human element to a story, rather than just reporting on the straight facts of the news. For instance, the correspondent might provide an informative contextual basis for the story, to be sure the readers or listeners truly understand its significance.

Typically, one who wants to become a foreign correspondent will need a degree in journalism or communications. In addition, internships and work on local newspapers or television stations can be an excellent way to get experience as well as to make contacts in the field. It is important for someone who wants to work as a freelance journalist in a foreign country to have enough contacts back home in order to have a place to submit stories. Freelancers should line up assignments with editors before moving to a foreign country; it may be a good idea to search for new media sources as well, such as online blogs.

In addition, a foreign correspondent may be able to find supplementary work with a local news source in the country. Freelance foreign correspondents who are bilingual will have a major advantage; photography skills are helpful as well. Foreign corresponding is a challenging and sometimes dangerous job that often does not pay very well unless you are working for a major news organization, but for those who are passionate about the news and international travel, it can be a dream job.

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Discussion Comments
By vigilant — On Aug 09, 2012

There are a lot fewer foreign correspondents than there used to be.

As newspaper budgets shrink more and more foreign bureaus have been closed. Television news is too fickle to put down the kind of roots it takes to cover the world's regions in depth.

The foreign press is one of the most valuable parts of the world's reporting core but more and more this work is being outsourced to bloggers, social media junkies and amateurs.

By profess — On Aug 09, 2012

What sort of education does it take to become a foreign correspondent? I assume you need a journalism degree but are there other specialties that can help you get a job?

Personally, I think it would be amazing to report from Asia. There is so much going on over there that is positive. I feel like you would get to cover a truly historical moment.

By summing — On Aug 08, 2012

Does a foreign correspondent have to work out of just one country or region or can they report from around the world?

I do not have the credentials to do this kind of work but it seems fascinating. Just think about it, you travel the world going to all the most interesting and explosive spots on earth. You might cover everything from the Olympics to a war. I can't think of a much cooler job than that.

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