Beat reporting is also known as specialized reporting. Editor’s that write to a specific beat are reporting on a specific issue, sector or industry. There’s quite a range of specialized beats from news and sports, to business, education, health, environment, food/drink, lifestyle and the list goes on.
Beat reporting changes depending on your location and audience. For example, a beat reporter may only cover two sports teams in a city that has only two major teams versus one that has many. An editor’s beat is the topics that they cover for example if they only cover local restaurants you wouldn’t want to pitch them an article about sports, especially if isn’t in their coverage area.
Do your research. Make sure you know the audience of the editor’s publication before you send the email. You don’t want to be pitching an article that is not relevant to the editor’s coverage area or beat. Lifestyle has emerged as a major news beat in recent years almost all publications online and print has some sort of lifestyle reporter covering fashion, food, travel, films and more.
The advantage of beat reporting is that it allows reporters to become skilled at reporting in one specific category and at times that might be a category that they are passionate about. Also spending time on one specific beat allows reporters to build up sources in a specific category over time. Disadvantages are that you have only covered one topic and if you want to change careers you don’t have as much diverse experience.
To understand an editor’s beat you should do your research. Make sure that you are pitching the correct article to them. Do they cover lifestyle? What is their coverage area? An editor’s beat might be more general than a beat reporter as they manage many different beats. Make sure you become familiar with them as a person as well before you reach out to them.
You also want to become familiar with previous articles that the editor has written. Most publications have a section that just the editor writes known as the editorial column or page. These articles might also be written by other writers in the publication, but they are curated by the editor. By reading previous article you become familiar with the editor’s voice.
Beat reporting is much more in-depth than general news reporting. You get a more detailed, specialized report of the news for each category. Beat reporters are able to put all of the attention to a specific category instead of spreading their time among many different categories. In order to understand an editor’s beat you should first understand the difference in beat reporting, do your research on the editor and become familiar with their voice.