Difference Between a reporter and a journalist
Oftentimes people conclude that these two terms – reporter and journalist – are the same and can be used interchangeably. Such people see the two as doing the same work of news gathering and dissemination therefore there is no need to bother about nomenclature. Well, those who hold this view are wrong. The reporter and the journalist are both in the journalism profession, agreed. But check this out: a journalist can be a reporter but a reporter cannot be a journalist. See why.
The reporter is primarily engaged in an aspect of journalism that has to do with gathering news, writing it and presenting it for publication through a medium. The reporter covers events and news breaks, writes the stories and presents to editors (who are also journalists but not reporters whether in the field or monitoring stories in the office). The editors do the final polishing and approval for the story to be published.
The journalist on the other hand is engaged in a broader aspect of the profession, he does not only gather and write news (reporting) but he could be involved in the other processes of getting the story ready for publication as an editor, sub-editor, managing editor, or copy editor. So you see, scope is a major defining thin line between the reporter and journalist. In fact, if a journalist is someone who gathers information and packages information for publication through a medium, then this also includes a wide range of people such as reporter, columnist, opinion article writer, news anchors and publishers. The argument is that journalism involves more than reporting and there are journalists who do not engage in actually reporting whether as field reporters or those who monitor stories from the office through radio, television, newspapers, or online sources. You may say that every editor must have been a reporter before growing to that level. This is just like saying that every football coach was once a footballer. You know this is wrong. Or saying every boxing coach was a boxer. You also know this is wrong. There are people who are very good in writing stories but may not have the skills to go to the field and get facts from sources. They make very good editors. You can’t say they are not journalists because they are not in the field.
The reporter’s work is much narrower when compared to that of the journalist. We are not referring to what happens today with the emergence of citizen journalism where almost everyone is answering journalist. By-standers who know how to post stories online all answer journalist. The discussion here is about the professional journalist and reporter. The basic difference between the two is scope and job description.
With this explanation you now know that the rural news reporter is not the same as the rural journalist. Rural journalism is broader than rural news reporting.