(noun) (by extension) An area of a person’s responsibility

In Journalism, a beat is an area of specialization. Beat reporters are reporters who have a certain specialization (particular issue, sector, organization, or institution over time). They gain familiarity and are most likely in continuous correspondence with their sources whom they build rapport with.

Beat reporters often deal with the same sources day after day, and must return to those sources regardless of their relationship with them.

Journalist’s niche

A journalist might cover similar stories from time to time, but that does not make them a beat journalist.

Primarily a US term for the subject matter or geographical area that a reporter might be assigned to cover, as in ‘the crime beat’ or ‘the Washington beat’. Reporters might still be expected actually to beat (walk) streets and stalk corridors in person but today they are even more likely to be required to monitor1

sources: Scanlan, C. (2011). Beat reporting: what does it take to be the best. Poynter Institute.

Ralph S. Izard; Hugh M. Culbertson; Donald A. Lambert (1994). “11. The Specialist at Work: Beat Reporting”. Fundamentals of News Reporting. Kendall/Hunt. pp. 215_ff_. ISBN 0-8403-7607-3.


  1. Harcup, T. (2014). beat. In A Dictionary of Journalism. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 1 May. 2023, from https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780199646241.001.0001/acref-9780199646241-e-140.