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Career Information on International Correspondents in
Homeland Security

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International correspondents, also frequently referred to as foreign correspondents, are journalists who report on stories from foreign countries. Given the sheer number of homeland security issues and efforts worldwide, many international correspondents now focus their careers on homeland security matters.

Homeland security international correspondents may be freelance journalists or they may work for any number of national and international media outlets, including television stations, magazine publishers, websites, radio stations, and newspapers, reporting stories related to the nation’s homeland security and counterterrorism efforts worldwide. International correspondents most often live in the country from which they are reporting, and many more travel across the globe, reporting stories of interest to the United States.

These professionals, unlike the typical nine-to-five job, are often on call 24-hours a day, remaining available when a news story breaks. They may spend little time at their home base, traveling often and living under different conditions at any given time. Further, international correspondents in homeland security are often posted in areas or regions of conflict, thereby finding themselves in dangerous and unpredictable circumstances.

International correspondents must have a pulse on the homeland security issues involving not only the United States, but of other countries, as well. Their work often requires them to be conversationally fluent in other languages and sensitive to other cultures. Because international correspondents report on stories of either national or international significance, their work may take them areas of war or disasters. It is quite common for international correspondents to work for a foreign bureau, which often serves to support them while working abroad.

The job of a foreign correspondent is rather dynamic, with different assignments calling for distinctly different tasks. However, it can be said that, during any given assignment, a foreign correspondent will:

  • Review and evaluate notes as to single out important facts needed for the story.
  • Determine the story’s viewpoint, length, and format and organize the material accordingly.
  • Determine the individuals to be interviewed and arrange interviews.
  • Research background information needed to add dimension, depth and important facts to the story.
  • Check books, news files, public records, etc. to obtain information needed to provide the reader with comprehensive, accurate and complete information.
  • Investigate and compile timely stories on breaking news developments.
  • Revise work as to meet editorial approval.
  • Develop human interest stories through thorough researching and interviewing.
  • Develop stories through trustworthy leads and tips.
  • Maintain adequate communication with the editorial team at all times as to establish priorities and revise work as needed.
  • Conduct live or taped interviews and assist in editing videos for broadcast.
  • Transmit new stories or report timely news from remote locations.
  • Interpret and write about events through columns, editorials, or commentaries.

How to Pursue Jobs as an International Correspondent

International correspondent jobs involve studying topical and relevant information, interviewing experts and individuals directly or indirectly involved in the story, analyzing the information, and clearly and accurately conveying the information to an audience, either through a broadcast or written story. As such, an international correspondent usually possesses a bachelor’s degree or higher in journalism or communications, and many of these professionals also possess degrees in English and political science.

Journalism and communication degrees often include a number of courses that prepare students to pursue jobs as international correspondents, such as journalism ethics and political science. Advanced degrees in international journalism are also quite common, with international religions, governments, cultures, and societies serving as the framework of these programs.

This fast-paced and demanding profession also often requires the completion of an internship and a well-rounded portfolio of work.

International correspondents generally possess the following attributes:

  • The ability to communicate well with people, both written and verbally
  • The ability to observe, receive and obtain information in a timely fashion
  • The ability to interpret information as to clearly communicate with others speaking different languages and from different cultures
  • The ability to think creatively and develop new ideas
  • The ability to understand technology and use it as to receive for transmit information from any location around the world

Salary Statistics for International Correspondents

Although salaries for international correspondents will certainly vary based on the media outlet for which they are working and the type of work they perform, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that reporters, correspondents, and broadcast new analysts earned a median annual salary of $36,000 in May 2010, with the top 10 percent earning more than $146,230.

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