How To: Apply for a Job as a Reporter or Anchor at a News Station

Step 1: Make a resume & cover letter.

Most people know that in order to apply to any job, you need a resume. However, if you are going into broadcasting, it is essential that you obtain a demo reel. The demo reel should include clips of videos you have shot and edited- to show your shooting capabilities and experience- and clips of yourself anchoring at a news desk.

Step 2: Create a youtube link of your demo reel.

When I interned at KBTX, (a College Station news station) I learned from my producer that when he receives demo reels on a disc, he usually just throws them away. This is for two different reasons. One, it is a lot more work to put in your disc and hope that it will play on his computer, rather than just clicking a link on your online resume and playing it right then. He even mentioned that if he couldn’t get the disc to play, he would just throw it away. Two, if he has a big stack of paper resumes and disc’s, and for some reason the stack gets tipped over, it is going to take up a lot of his time to get all of the disc’s matched up with the right resumes.  For these reasons, most news stations today highly prefer an electronic resume and demo reel so that all they have to do is click once on your link and they can watch your demo reel with ease.

Step 3: Follow up with the stations you applied to.

I applied to over 15 different news stations in Texas to intern at this summer. However, I did not get any offers from any of the stations I applied to until I called them again and told them how interested I was in interning there and if I could intern at their station. When you put a face to your resume, you become much harder to say no to. One of my friends that was applying to jobs after she graduated said, “the biggest mistake I made when applying for jobs, was not following up with the resumes I sent in”. I suggest following up with the places about a week after you have sent in your resume. Make sure you remember or write down the names of the people you talk to, and customize your cover letter to the name of the station.

Dave Owen- a television director- wrote a blog about tips to keep in mind when applying to television jobs. Here are a few of his tips that I find are very practical:

What Do Employers Look For?

Experience

There’s no getting away from it – someone with experience is more desirable. However it’s not always critical and you shouldn’t be put off if you don’t yet have it. Lack of experience will make things slower for you at the start but it needn’t stop you.

It is also possible to be “over-experienced”. If I interview someone with extensive experience for an entry-level job, I might be concerned that this is a fill-in job for them and they won’t stay long. Sometimes it suits me to hire someone with a lot to learn because I expect them to stay with us for at least the duration of their “apprenticeship”.

If you have no experience, the good news is that there are jobs available. You could look for entry-level positions such as camera and sound assistants, cable-runners, etc. Once you have a foot in the door you have made the hardest step.

Motivation and Commitment

The quality of our television production depends heavily on how motivated our operators are. As a director I rely on things like camera operators finding good shots. One highly motivated person can contribute more to the programme than several ordinary ones.

Reliability is essential. If you’re the sort of person who always makes sure you use your full entitlement of sick days, you are unlikely to be popular in television. If you’re tardy with time-keeping, forget this career. In live TV, one person being one minute late is all it takes to ruin everyone’s day.

As an employer I also know that someone with enough motivation can go from being a newbie to an excellent asset in a short space of time, so this attribute will go a long way to compensate for any lack of experience.

Natural Talent

When I first started employing I rated this as being very important. Since then, having seen a number of people flourish who didn’t initially appear to be naturals, I have softened my attitude slightly. I still favour people who learn quickly but I won’t fire you if you take a bit longer to pick things up.

Still, you need to be honest with yourself and seek genuine evaluation. This is a competitive field and if you don’t have at least some natural aptitude you will always be at a disadvantage.

People Skills

You will be required to work with people from many walks of life, often in high-stress situations. You need to be able to get on with people – those you work with and those you deal with as part of the job. For example, a typical camera operator or presenter may have to do things such as:

  • Make people comfortable appearing on camera for the first time
  • Elicit information from reluctant sources
  • Focus on the job whilst being harassed by members of the public
  • Deal with people who are grieving, under stress, in trouble, etc.

AREA OF EMPLOYMENT TYPE OF REQUIREMENTS
Operational Roles
(Camera operator, editor, etc)
Formal qualifications are less important, experience is the key.
On-Screen Personality
(Presenter, actor, etc)
Formal qualifications are not usually important. Personal attributes such as self-confidence and people skills are critical. You will also need to be “camera-friendly” (a dicey topic which we won’t go into here).
Media Commentary
(Movie or television critic, etc)
Formal qualifications are usually important, or at least an understanding of academic protocol. Practical experience is not usually a requirement.
Management Formal qualifications are very important and a reasonable level of practical experience will often be expected.

This is also another helpful link for applying to a news station: http://www.ehow.com/how-to_4845387_job-doing-tv-news.html

Follow the above steps and you will surely be employed at a news station in NO time!

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One thought on “How To: Apply for a Job as a Reporter or Anchor at a News Station

  1. Great post! I think a lot of people forget about the follow ups. They just send in their resume and hope that it makes an impression, even though it most likely looks similar to all of the others. Our field is especially founded on relations and providing a face or voice behind the resume is crucial for serious hiring.
    I, also, like your bit about experience. Having the degrees we are here to get is great, but we most likely won’t be given a chance if we don’t have experience to go along with it. It’s great that we are required to do get 2 semesters of media credit and an internship. That will be such a great help when we apply for jobs.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Like

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