TV news is a tough business. Don't be discouraged by that
statement, just take it to heart. You'll be asked to move
far away from friends, family and loved ones. You'll work
nights, overnights and weekends. Your schedule, next job and
passion for what you do, can often wreak havoc on your relationships.
aside, I wouldn't work in any other business. In what other
job are you able to have up-to-the-minute information in your
hands, before anyone else? In what other job do people depend
on you to deliver that information to them in the best and
quickest way possible? In what other job can you watch news
happen and deliver it live as it is happening? Not too many.
I think my only real advice, is you must have passion. If
you're not passionate about this business, there's no point
in stepping foot in a newsroom. I did the math the other day.
I added up the number of hours I worked in my first true on-air
job and divided it by my salary. I made about as much as the
kids working at the drive-thru at McDonald's, but I love what
I do and I wouldn't be good at flipping burgers.
You must be ready to work. I've been working as a reporter/anchor
at KERO-TV in Bakersfield. We have three newscasts during
the week and two on the weekends. We have a staff of about
9 people to come up with story ideas, decide what to cover,
shoot, write, edit and deliver the news. That's on a good
In the 2 1/2 years I've been at KERO, I've learned how to
do nearly everything in a newsroom. Don't be discouraged if
the first television job you're offered is editing tape or
associate producing. Those jobs will prove to be valuable
to your career. The more news directors I talk to, the more
I realize that most of them want you to be able to do more
than one job. Plus, I think the best way to become a good
reporter, is to first become a good writer. Many will disagree
with me, but I think people who spend a year or two as a producer,
often turn out to be the best reporters.
If you want to break into this business, talk to the people
who do it every day. Read every newspaper you can get your
hands on, watch TV news like it's your favorite movie and
learn to take criticism. You'll get a lot of criticism. The
trick is to absorb it all and separate the bad from the good.