Beat reporting refers to thematic specialization and routines (places to go, people to see) in journalism. The term reflects the distinction between general assignment reporters and specialized (beat) reporters covering a specific area (beat) as well as the subject-matter or geographic divisions between areas of reporting by which media organizations seek to structure the social environment they cover[^1^].
Beat reporting marks the beginning of modern journalism. It was invented at the end of the 19th century in the United States with the aim to increase the efficiency of journalistic work. Thus it relates to the professionalization and rationalization of newspaper journalism and the transformation of newspapers into a mass product[^1^].
In everyday work, beat reporting has undeniable advantages. It saves resources since beat reporters are very experienced on their beat and know well where and how to get exactly the information they need. Due to their long-term relationship of trust with relevant sources, beat reporters obtain exclusive, trustworthy, and newsworthy information. Along with this specialization come, however, several challenges; for example, the diversity of views represented in a beat might be limited, which can also affect the diversity of news coverage. At the extreme, this can even lead to pack journalism as a form of groupthink[^1^].
Concerning the reporterâsource relationship, there are three risks of losing professional distance: (a) If beat reporters become too loyal toward their sources, they can be instrumentalized; (b) being too adversarial toward their sources might entail a loss of trust and an increasing cynicism of the audience; (c) if beat reporters start feeling like advocates of their own interests, they might behave as activists rather than detached observers[^1^].
Most recently, online journalism has changed the understanding of beat journalism (e.g., data journalism, local online beat) compared to the traditional understanding. Research on beat journalism has so far focused on stable, high-income democracies and on the political beat as the most fundamental and prominent beat[^1^].
Some examples of common beats in journalism are: court, crime, education, environment, health, politics, sports, and technology. Each beat requires different types of reporting skills that are expected of reporters today[^2^] [^3^].
Beat reporting is essential in democratic societies because citizens gain access to ongoing events and learn about prevailing issues and opinions in various fields. Beat reporters also play a crucial role in holding power accountable and informing public debate[^1^].
In this article, we will briefly introduce six important types of beats in journalism and some examples of how they are covered by reporters.
1. Political Reporting
Political journalism is a very prolific and very broad branch of journalism. It covers topics such as elections, campaigns, parties, policies, legislation, government actions, international relations, and more. Political reporters need to have a good knowledge of the political system, the history and background of the issues, the sources and stakeholders involved, and the ethical standards and norms of the profession[^4^]. Political reporting can be challenging due to the complexity, controversy, and sensitivity of the topics, as well as the pressure and influence from various actors[^1^]. Some examples of political reporters are Maggie Haberman of The New York Times, Robert Costa of The Washington Post, and Laura Kuenssberg of BBC News.
2. Food Reporting
Food is a kind of industry which can never be outsourced. It is also a cultural phenomenon that reflects the identity, values, and traditions of different groups and regions. Food reporting covers topics such as recipes, cooking techniques, ingredients, nutrition, health, trends, reviews, history, and more. Food reporters need to have a passion for food, a curiosity for new flavors and stories, a sense of taste and aesthetics, and a critical eye for quality and authenticity[^2^]. Food reporting can be rewarding due to the diversity, creativity, and enjoyment of the topics, as well as the impact and influence on the public's choices and habits[^5^]. Some examples of food reporters are Sam Sifton of The New York Times Cooking, Priya Krishna of Bon AppÃtit, and Adam Liaw of The Guardian.
3. Education Reporting
These days many reporters are trying to concentrate on education reporting which focuses on young people. It covers topics such as schools, colleges, universities, students, teachers, curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, policy, reform, innovation, and more. Education reporters need to have a good understanding of the education system, the challenges and opportunities facing different stakeholders, the sources and data available for analysis and evaluation, and the ethical issues and implications of the profession[^2^]. Education reporting can be important due to the relevance, significance, and urgency of the topics for the future of society. Some examples of education reporters are Erica L. Green of The New York Times, 061ffe29dd