Skeeter spent years training to become an Animagus and, at some point, she was finally able to transform into a beetle at will. Skeeter aspired to be a journalist and an author, and used this ability to spy and eavesdrop for her articles.
Career as a journalist/author
During her early days as an author, Skeeter wrote a biography on Armando Dippet, entitled Armando Dippet: Master or Moron?. It was presumably an exaggerated history of him to gain controversy and, by extension, popularity and fame. The book was a best-seller.
As an unregistered Animagus, wherein she took the form of a beetle and was able to slip around undetected and spy on unsuspecting company, she could obtain gossip for her articles, which she later exaggerated and exploited to gain the attention of the masses. Her ability to turn into a beetle also reflected how irritating and bothersome she was to other people, particularly Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore, and it also displayed her dishonest characteristics. Rita also wrote primarily for the Daily Prophet, though some of her articles have also appeared in other sources, such as Witch Weekly and The Quibbler. Skeeter worked closely alongside Bozo, her photographer.
Hello, I'm Rita Skeeter! I write for the Daily Prophet. But, of course, you know that, don't you? It's you we don't know. You're the juicy news. What quirks lurk beneath those rosy cheeks? What mysteries do the muscles mask? Does courage lie beneath those curls? In short, what makes a champion tick? Me, myself and I want to know. Not to mention my ravid readers.
~ Rita Skeeter, introducing herself to the champions competing in the Triwizard Tournament sometime in 1994.
In 1994-1995, Rita was given the opportunity to interview the Triwizard Tournament contestants for an article in the Daily Prophet. Under the guise of interviewing all four champions, she confronted Harry Potter in a broom cupboard where she took his "um"s and "er"s and invented her own quotes. Eventually, her "interview of the contestants" turned out to be a highly falsified story of Harry himself.
The article painted Harry as a tragic hero who cried himself to sleep over his late parents and who had a romantic relationship with Hermione Granger. The article was mostly taken negatively by Harry's schoolmates, who assumed he was craving attention, although Molly Weasley seemed to take it very seriously, to the point that she was particularly cool towards Hermione for a time until Harry assured her that the article was lying and he and Hermione had never dated. At some point after the first task, Albus Dumbledore had banned Rita from entering Hogwarts Castle.
Rita then interviewed Rubeus Hagrid, asking many questions about Harry that Hagrid refused to answer. Her subsequent article described Hagrid as a ferocious-looking man who used his authority to terrify his students, but was otherwise mostly true. The article also revealed to the world that Hagrid was actually half-giant, which prompted letters from parents frightened by the idea of having a dangerous giant teaching their children and greatly upset Hagrid, subjecting him to ridicule and fear, although his mood was rallied when Harry, Ron, Hermione and Dumbledore visited him and assured him that they didn't care about his family being the vicious monsters everyone believed them to be. Giants really were vicious and brutal, but Hagrid obviously wasn't, so Professor Dumbledore insisted Hagrid deny any insults and return to work, as Harry and his friends didn't care about Hagrid being related to vicious monsters either, as Hagrid wasn't brutal.
Harry, Ron and Hermione overheard her discussing the possibility of writing an embarrassing story about Ludo Bagman, head of Magical Games and Sports.
When Rita encountered Harry, Ron, and Hermione in Hogsmeade, Hermione insulted her for her libel. Rita, in retaliation, then wrote a nasty story about the "devious Miss Granger" based on false rumours provided by Pansy Parkinson, making her out to be a plain but skilled witch who used love potions to "satisfy her taste for celebrity wizards," including toying with the affections of both Harry and Krum. Although Hermione was more disdainful than upset about the article, she started receiving angry mail from people who believed Rita's lies, and even Molly Weasley was upset with her until Harry set her straight.
Rita Skeeter isn't going to be writing anything at all for a while. Not unless she wants me to spill the beans on her... I found out how she was listening in on private conversations when she wasn't supposed to be coming into the grounds... Rita Skeeter is an unregistered Animagus. She can turn into a beetle... I've told her she's to keep her quill to herself for a whole year. See if she can't break the habit of writing horrible lies about people.
Rita's last defaming article stated that Harry was "disturbed and dangerous," and used comments from Draco and his Slytherin cronies as its basis. Ultimately, Hermione discovered the means by which Rita spied on others and forced her to "keep her quill to herself for a full year" by catching her in her beetle form while she was perched on the hospital wing window and trapping her in a jar imbued with an Unbreakable Charm so she couldn't transform. Hermione threatened to Rita that she would report her to the authorities as an illegal Animagus to the Ministry of Magic, which would have severe legal consequences. Rita was forced to comply, and suffered financial strain as a result. Unfortunately her last article would discredit Harry and serve as the basis for Cornelius Fudge to refuse to believe Harry's story about Voldemort's return that would start the Ministry's smear campaign against Harry and Dumbledore.
In 1995, Harry Potter's story that Lord Voldemort had returned was not believed by much of the wizarding world, as the Daily Prophet portrayed him as either a delusional boy or an attention-seeking liar. Hermione Granger wanted to get the truth to the public, and thus instructed Rita to meet her and Luna Lovegood in Hogsmeade on 14 February, 1996 in the Three Broomsticks. As it was Rita who laid the foundation for the Prophet's defamation of Harry, with her initial stories about him, Hermione wanted her to be the one to set the record straight. They were joined by Harry after his date with Cho Chang. Harry thought that Hermione and Rita were "the unlikeliest pair of drinking mates he could ever have imagined."
Rita was initially taken aback that Hermione wanted her to interview Harry, and then resentful, since Hermione demanded that she only write exactly what Harry said and not portray him as the rest of the press was. Rita claimed the Prophet would not buy the story, reluctantly admitting that the Ministry of Magic was influencing it. Hermione told her that the interview would be printed in The Quibbler, which Luna's father's edited, and although Rita responded with disdain, she "eyed Hermione shrewdly" for a few moments and then agreed. However, when she learned she was expected to conduct the interview free of charge, she was furious. Because Hermione was able to blackmail Rita with the threat of reporting her unregistered Animagus status to the Ministry, Rita grudgingly complied and wrote the article.
The book depicted the former headmaster in an extremely negative light but was mostly based on truth, much to Harry's horror. It was implied that she got some of her information in unethical or illegal ways, as much of the book's content was obtained through an interview Rita conducted with Bathilda Bagshot, a very elderly historian, where Skeeter used Veritaserum to gain information about Dumbledore’s childhood. Skeeter stole photographs from Bagshot as well, and the subsequent novel sensationalised everything, implying that Dumbledore had dabbled in the Dark Arts and contributed to the death of his sister.
It turned out that Rita got at least some of her facts straight for once, but had no idea of the true story, such as claiming that Ariana was a Squib when in reality she suffered from uncontrollable bursts of magic due to a highly traumatic experience when she was around six.
Naturally, what could stop Rita [from still reporting]? I imagine she immediately dashed off a biography of Harry after he defeated Voldemort. One quarter truth to three quarters rubbish.
Rita Skeeter is described as having blonde hair set in elaborate and curls that constrast oddly with her heavy-jawed face. She wears jewelled spectacles studded with rhinestones, and has thick fingers ending in two-inch nails, painted crimson. Her blonde curls are curiously rigid, suggesting it is styled with the magical equivalent of hairspray. In addition, she has penciled-on eyebrows and three gold teeth, as well as large, masculine hands. Her scarlet-painted fingernails are usually likened to claws or talons.
She is known to carry with her a crocodile-skin handbag, inside of which she carries her acid green Quick-Quotes Quill. She usually wore clothes made of green leather and sometimes magenta-coloured robes with maroon furs at the collar and sleeves.
Apparently, unemployment did not serve Rita well, as when she showed up during the year she was blackmailed by Hermione not to write, Rita's nails were chipped, she was missing fake stones in her glasses, and her hair was lank and unkempt. As in her unregistered Animagus beetle form, her antennas were curled to resemble her curls in her hair and she had marking around her antennas resembling her jewelled glasses.
Rita was extremely nosy and willing to do anything for a good story — from spying on people in her Animagus form of a beetle to sensationalising or outright inventing stories. She also took advantage of elderly Bathilda Bagshot's possibly fragile state of mind, even giving her Veritaserum, in order to dig up dirt on the late Albus Dumbledore for her extremely critical biography, despite the use of such a powerful truth serum being heavily controlled by the Ministry. Rita tended to portray the people she wrote about poorly, presumably because it sold more stories. However, she could also be very vindictive. For example, after Hermione Granger insulted her, Rita printed a completely false story about Hermione using love potions and toying with the hearts of both Harry Potter and Viktor Krum. This resulted in Hermione receiving hate mail, but she eventually got her revenge, blackmailing Rita into refraining from writing for a year. After this time period was up, Rita returned to her writing with as much gusto and as little scruples as before.
Despite her inaccuracies and biased articles, Rita seemed to be a fast writer and researcher, as she managed to finish a nine-hundred-page book in four weeks.
Rita seemed to have a somewhat low opinion of the intelligence of her average reader, based on her style of reporting. She once, in an article, referred to Hermione Granger as being "stunningly pretty," only to then describe her an article published just a few months later as "plain but ambitious." She also stated regarding the Daily Prophet that it "exists to sell itself."
Magical abilities and skills
Animagus: Rita had mastered a complex branch of Transfiguration, becoming an unregistered beetle Animagus, to get information and gossip without being caught.
One about Harry Potter supposedly being dangerous (before the Third Task).
An interview with Harry Potter in which he described Lord Voldemort's return. This was likely Skeeter's most accurate article, since Hermione Granger arranged it and would have informed the Ministry of Skeeter's status as an unregistered Animagus had she lied.
Rita is a short form of the name Margarita, a Latinate form of the name Margaret. The name is derived from the Greek μαργαρίτης, margarites, meaning "pearl".
Skeeter is a slang term for a "mosquito." This could be a reference to her Animagus form, which is an insect, or to her career in tabloid journalism. The word paparazzi is derived from an Italian word for "mosquito.". "Skeet" is also an Anglo-Manx colloquialism for gossip or an act of nosiness . Skeeter could also be a pun off of how annoying Skeeter's lies tend to be, as people tend to find mosquitos annoying and attempt to swat them away.
The character is similar to the "poison pen" biographer Template:Wplink. Both have a semi-rhyming name with an animal reference, and each is known for writing scandalous unauthorised biographies that largely consist of publishing every available, unsubstantiated rumour about an individual. There is an interesting similitary in phrases used to describe the two authors. Skeeter was called "enchantingly nasty" by Albus Dumbledore in Goblet of Fire, and Kelley was called "encyclopedically vicious", by the New York Times while reviewing her biography of Nancy Reagan.
Rita may have been a classmate of Bellatrix Lestrange, as both witches were born in 1951. But even if they both went to Hogwarts, it cannot be guaranteed they were in the same year because of their unspecified birth months.
In the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Firefilm when Harry points out that they're in a broom cupboard, Rita points out that he should "feel right at home", referring to the fact that Harry in his earlier life lived in the cupboard under the stairs at the Dursley house, hinting she knew about his childhood.
During an interview on BBC Radio 4, Rowling admitted that Rita was originally called Bridget and appeared in the first draft of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. She later cut the character from the final draft, wanting Rita to appear in Harry's fourth year, just when his fame starts to oppress him.Template:Fact