10 Steps to a Job as a Television Reporter

If you’ve ever watched the news on TV and thought you’d like to be the one in front of the camera, the good news is your dream can come true. By following the proper steps, you can become a television reporter.

by Rebecca Coates Nee
FabJob Inc. publishes books, e-books, and CD-ROMs that can help you break into a "fab" job. Visit www.FabJob.com for information and career advice.

Here are 10 steps you can take to break into this fab job, based on the Guide to Become a Television Reporter.

1. Become a News Junkie

The first step is to watch as many local and national television news broadcasts as you can. You should also read your local newspaper and one national paper daily. Subscribing to one or two weekly news magazines will help you to better understand the issues.

If you’ve never paid attention to the news before, you’ll have a lot of catching up to do. But, knowing the news is important if you plan to report the news. So do your best to get caught up on current events.

2. Learn to Write

Good writing is the secret to good reporting. Broadcast writing is short and to the point, while writing for print journalism can be a bit longer and more detailed. Several books can help you learn to write for broadcast. One of the most respected is Writing Broadcast News: Shorter, Sharper, Stronger by Mervin Block. 

3. Find Your Voice

You don’t have to have a deep, booming voice to succeed in broadcasting, but you must sound professional. You should get rid of any regional accents and try to speak through your diaphragm instead of your nose.

Consult your local Yellow Pages to find a speech therapist or voice coach who might help you improve your delivery. Taping yourself will also give you a better idea of your strengths and weaknesses.

4. Sharpen Your Appearance

You don’t have to look like a model, but you do need a professional, crisp presentation. Pay attention to the national reporters and anchors on TV. What are they wearing? How do they wear their hair?

The key is finding a look that won’t be distracting to the audience. This usually means short, neat hair, solid-colored clothing and no large earrings or flashy necklaces.

5. Get Experience

If you’re still choosing a college, find one that offers a broadcast journalism program with equipment like cameras and editing machines that will give you hands-on experience.

If you’ve already finished college, you need to find an internship at a station that will give you a chance to do some reporting. This usually means going to a smaller station to apply for an internship. Starting as a radio reporter is also a way to get your foot in the door.

6. Make a Resume Tape

The resume tape (a videotape of news reports you have done) will make or break your chances of getting hired, which is why it must be put together very well. In general, you’ll need at least three stories on your tape: breaking news, feature and a longer investigative-type piece. It also helps to have at least one live shot.

Many news directors like to see a one-minute montage of a reporter’s on camera stand-ups at the beginning of the tape, so they can get a better idea of how the person performs on air.

7. Target the Markets

The best way to approach your job search is by starting with the smaller stations closest to where you live. Every region of the country is divided into a television market that is ranked according to its population.

Currently, there are 210 markets in the United States. The smallest stations are in market sizes 100-210. You’ll have the best chance of getting a job at a station in one of those markets. 

8. Hit the Road

When a station has an opening for an anchor or reporter, the job is often filled before the advertisement is published on-line or in an industry magazine. This is why job hunters must be proactive in their search. Make two dozen copies of your tape, set up appointments with news directors in advance, then pack your car and begin your tour.

Meet as many news directors as you can, even if they don’t have any current job openings. That way, when a position does become available, you’ll be one of the first in line to grab it.

9. Network

Attend professional meetings and seminars offered in your area. Many of these programs give you the opportunity to mingle with news directors and have tape critique sessions for students or interns. Meetings are offered by organizations such as the Radio and Television News Director’s Association and the Associated Press.

10. Ace the Interview

When a news director calls you for an interview, it’s time to start doing your homework. Study the station’s own web site and go online to find the local newspaper for the town where the station is based. Learn the most important issues affecting the community and be sure to know the state officials.

If you are applying for a reporting position, you may be asked to go out on a story. If you’re applying as an anchor, you’ll probably have to tape an audition.

FabJob Inc. publishes books, e-books, and CD-ROMs that can help you break into a "fab" job. Visit www.FabJob.com for information and career advice.

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