-- Albus Dumbledore's description of Rita's writing (GF18)
"Attractive blonde Rita Skeeter, forty-three, whose savage quill has punctured many inflated reputations..."
-- Quick-Quotes Quill's transcription of "my name is Rita Skeeter, Daily Prophet reporter." (GF18)
Rita Skeeter is a reporter for the Daily Prophet who is known for her rubbishy exposés of well-known wizards. She uses a Quick-Quotes Quill to write in flowery prose filled with innuendos and veiled accusations (GF18). Rita was a reporter at the Death Eater trials after the first fall of the Dark Lord and has filled the pages of the Daily Prophet with her snide and nasty words; she once called Dumbledore an “obsolete dingbat.” She covered the Triwizard Tournament at Hogwarts, concentrating her efforts on digging up the dirt on Harry. However, she met her match in Hermione, who discovered that she was an unregistered Animagus (she can turn into a beetle) and used that information to blackmail Skeeter into not writing anything for a year (GF37).
It was a year later that Hermione called on Skeeter to write something, this time an exposé on Harry’s proof that Voldemort was alive again and actively seeking power. Because the official Ministry line was that Harry was delusional, Hermione put the interview into an alternative newspaper, the Quibbler (OP25). The story turned the tide of public opinion toward Harry.
After Dumbledore’s death, Skeeter wrote a 900-page tell-all biography of the Headmaster in just a few weeks. She used Veritaserum to get old Bathilda Bagshot to tell her about Dumbledore’s childhood (DH18). Skeeter stole photographs from Bagshot as well, and then wrote the story which sensationalized everything and implied that Dumbledore had dabbled in the Dark Arts and contributed to the death of his sister. The name of the book is The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore (DH2). It should fit nicely on the shelf next to an earlier book of hers, Armando Dippet: Master or Moron (DH13).
In 2014, she and Ginny Weasley clashed while reporting at the final of the Quidditch World Cup in Patagonia. She also wrote quite a nasty follow-up article about Harry Potter and the DA (Pm).
Hair: blonde, set in elaborate and curiously rigid curls (GF18); after her long period of unemployment, she let it hang lank and unkempt instead (OP25).
Face: heavy-jawed, heavily penciled eyebrows, jeweled spectacles (false jewels), three gold teeth (GF18).
Fingernails: long and painted red (GF18).
Hands: large, mannish (GF18).
Carries: crocodile-skin handbag holding parchment and an acid-green Quick-Quotes Quill (GF18).
Rita is the short form of the Latin Margarita, which was from Greek μαργαριτης (margarites) meaning "pearl" (Behind the Name).
Skeeter is a slang or shortened word meaning "mosquito" (Oxford English Dictionary). It seems highly appropriate for someone who is a constant buzzing and stinging annoyance.
Rowling called this character Bridget before settling on the name Rita. She was originally to appear in the Leaky Cauldron when Harry first visited, but Rowling decided that Skeeter would better appear in book four as Harry became aware of his fame (JKR).
J.K. Rowling on the character of Rita Skeeter:
from interview with Newsround, 7/2000:
There's a character in this book, Rita; how true is this a depiction of your relations with the press?
Well I'll tell you the truth but I doubt very much that anyone's going to want to hear this. I tried to put Rita in Philosopher's Stone - you know when Harry walks into the Leaky Cauldron for the first time and everyone says, "Mr Potter you're back!", I wanted to put a journalist in there. She wasn't called Rita then but she was a woman. And then I thought, as I looked at the plot overall, I thought, that's not really where she fits best, she fits best in Four when Harry's supposed to come to terms with his fame. So I pulled Rita from Book One and planned her entrance for Book Four and I was really looking forward to Rita coming in Book Four. For the first time ever, my pen metaphorically hesitated over writing her, because I thought, everyone will think this is my response to what's happened to me. But the fact is, Rita was planned all along. Did I enjoy her a little more because of what's happened to me - yeah I probably did!