Anchor Events:Being a TV reporter or news anchor is an exciting and fast-paced profession.
However, if you’re in it for just the glamour and the glory, then you may have to rethink your priorities.
Being a TV reporter or news anchor not only requires hard work, rigid deadlines.
And the ability to talk to the most difficult people.
But you may also find yourself spending six hours in 20 degree weather waiting for a hostage situation to break.
If you think you have the guts, stamina, and dedication to be a TV reporter or news anchor.
Then follow these steps
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1. Be an articulate speaker.
Your voice is key in this field. You should concentrate on projection, enunciation, and inflection.
All of these things will help you deliver your “script” in a compelling nature.
Be authoritative in your speech. This will give you credibility with your audience.
Read newspapers and magazines aloud.
Listen to the best journalists in the field when they speak and try to emulate them.
- You’ll have to speak loudly and slowly enough for people to understand you, but quickly enough to cover everything you have to say in a given amount of time.
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2. Look good on camera.
This doesn’t mean that you have to look like a movie star or a Victoria’s Secret model. You don’t even have to be classically handsome or beautiful. You do, however, have to look appealing on camera, and have that special quality that makes people want to watch you doing whatever you do. This is a mixture of charisma, confidence, and that special something that will make people respond to you even if you’re covering a story about a local bake sale.
- Unfortunately, it can go the other way — you may be incredibly attractive but may come off as lackluster on camera. Don’t think that your looks are a golden ticket to the profession.
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3. Have killer people skills.
If you want to succeed in the world of TV reporting or news anchoring, then you have to be able to talk to anyone about almost anything. If you’re reporting, you may have to talk to people live, on site, and on camera, even if they aren’t comfortable, and your job will be to make them comfortable. If you’re an anchor, then you’ll have to introduce people to your audience and talk to them in the studio, and use the same skills to make them open up and feel at ease.
- You may not realize that many reporters and news anchors have to write and investigate their own stories, but this may actually be a large component of your job. If this is the case, then you’ll need to be able to talk to a variety of people who can give you access to the information you want.
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4. Be free from bias.
Tough one, eh? If you want to be an honest TV reporter or news anchor, then you’ll have to learn to put your prejudices aside. Even if you lean a certain way politically or feel biased against certain professions, people, or regions, you’ll have to do your reporting as objectively as possible. You won’t be able to let the people you interview see through to your personal beliefs, or you won’t be giving people the honest, unbiased news that they really want.
- If you’re prejudiced against certain people, they will be much less likely to open up to you.
5. Have stellar writing skills.
Though being an articulate speaker is crucial, being a strong writer isn’t far behind. Even if you’re just reading what you have to say and improvising as you go along, or if you have to write your own stories, writing skills will get you far in the field. Writing skills will also help you communicate with others if you have to develop your own stories, and your writing should make you sound as professional as possible.
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6. Have ridiculous stamina.
If you’re the kind of person who needs a nap after working for two hours, then the life of a TV reporter or news anchor is not for you. You may have to work 12 hour shifts, get up at 2 a.m., or spend hours just standing in the same spot during unusually cold or hot conditions waiting for a story to break. And you have to have the ability to work a 10 hour shift, only to be told that a major story just broke and to work 5 more hours until you take care of business.
- You will have to be flexible. This is not a job for people who want to work 9-5 and then go home and kick their feet up. Think you can do it?
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7. Get a bachelor’s degree.
Most TV stations require that you have a college degree, preferably in broadcast journalism. Getting a degree in English or Communications is also a big help. Some schools that have top broadcast journalism programs are Brigham Young University, University Missouri Columbia, Northwestern University, Syracuse University and Arizona State University.
- Taking a wide variety of liberal arts courses, such as political science or art history, will help you get more experience with a variety of subjects and will make you a more well-rounded reporter or anchor.
8. Get relevant experience at your undergraduate institution.
When you’re in college, you’ll have to do more than just get your bachelor’s degree if you want to take your career to the next level. Join your school newspaper and get some practice writing stories, investigating leads, and understanding the hard work needed to provide your audience with a good story. If you have a local college TV station, try to involved there, eventually ending up as an anchor or reporter if you can.
- If your college does not have a local TV station, go for the local radio station. This will still give you some experience with interviewing others and speaking in an articulate manner.
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9. Get some internship experience.
You can do this over the summer, between undergraduate semesters, or even after you graduate from college. Getting an internship at a local paper can help you make connections and have a better understanding of the way a news station runs. You may not end up doing much more than answering phones and getting coffee, but if you want to get ahead, you’ll have to do it — with enthusiasm.
- Getting this experience will help improve your resume greatly. This is the kind of thing that will back up an impressive resume reel.
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10. Consider getting a master’s degree in journalism.
Though a master’s degree in journalism isn’t required for you to become a TV reporter or a news anchor, it can help you get a leg up in the profession. Most journalism master’s programs, such as the one at Columbia University, are only one or two years long. You may have to pay out of pocket for this degree if you can’t get funding or a scholarship, so choose wisely. A journalism degree can help you not only get an appreciation for the field of reporting, but it can also help you get a leg up in the application process.
- Additionally, going to journalism school can help you make valuable connections that may lead to jobs in the future.
11. Learn how to write for TV.
You of course learn some of this in school. Writing for TV is very different from writing a term paper. You need to learn how to write to the images your audience will see on TV. It’s called writing to video. Also, you should keep writing simple and stay away from legalese and clichés. You have only one shot to get the attention of folks at home.
- Though news anchors most often read from their notes or from teleprompters (while improvising along the way), most reporters have to write their own copy for when they go in the field.
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13. Create a resumé tape.
A resumé tape is a reel that shows a sample of your reporting/anchoring skills. It usually starts with a slate – a brief showing of your name and contact information. The slate is usually followed by a montage, which is a short segment of compelling live shots, samples of reporting and anchoring. The montage is then followed by three of your best stories.
- The best way to get your first resumé tape is to do one in school; otherwise it can be quite expensive.
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14. Apply for jobs.
When you apply for work, you’ll need to send both your resumé tape and an actual resumé. The resume will include any relevant experience and education, such as any volunteer or part-time work you’ve done in the field. You’ll also list any major news stories you’ve covered as well as your roles in presenting them. You can also include your technical experience and proficiency with digital communication devices or systems, since most stations are tech savvy.
- Don’t just apply to the stations that are hiring. Send your tape and resumé absolutely everywhere that you can send it without being a nuisance. You never know when an opening will appear, and having your tape on the right person’s desk at the right time can increase your chances of getting that job.
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15. Be willing to move anywhere to get your foot in the door.
You won’t find your first job three blocks from your house. Jobs are so competitive that you can’t be choosy when landing your first job. Sure, you may want to hold out for San Diego, California but if Biloxi, Mississippi offers you your first job, you should probably say yes. Send your tape and apply everywhere you can, and be prepared to step out of your comfort zone.
- Remember that the more experience you have, the more command you’ll have over where you can live and work. You may not have much control over your first job or two, but once you build up a reputation, you’ll have more success in applying for work at stations in more coveted locations.
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16. Start at a small market television station.
Everyone has visions of taking over the NBC Nightly News anchor desk, but the truth of the matter is a tiny portion of people who get into the TV news business will ever make it to a top 10 market. It’s a good idea to start your career in a small local market because you can learn all aspects of the business. You will likely do everything like: report, produce, anchor, shoot video, edit and maybe even run the teleprompter with your foot!
- You’ll also get the opportunity to make your mistakes. Audiences are much more forgiving in Mobile, Alabama than they are in New York City.
17. Prepare to get little pay at the beginning.
The average reporter job in a small market gets paid between $15,000 and $18,000 a year. Not what you expected? Contrary to popular belief, most TV personalities are not rolling in dough. Television news is a field where the supply outweighs the demand. Basically there are more people who want to be on TV than there are available positions. That’s part of the reason why pay is not competitive.
- Also, if you start at a small market station, you will get small market pay. It’s the nature of the business. If making a lot of money in your career is important to you, don’t get into TV news!
- The anchors in the 25 biggest markets make around $130,000 a year, but these are very prestigious positions.
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18. Work at bigger stations.
Once you’ve put in at least 3-5 years at a small station and have found some success, you can start moving up in the ranks. Apply for work at larger stations, or even medium-sized stations, and see what you can do. Apply everywhere, not just places that have openings, and use your great experience as a way to back up the fact that you’ll be an amazing candidate for the job.
- Don’t think that working at the bigger stations, however, will let you be more flexible and to set your own hours more. Quite the contrary. The more prestigious your position, the more rigorous its demands will be.
19. Find your niche.
When you begin, you’ll be working as an anchor or a reporter for whatever field is available. But as you advance in your career, you may have more say about what field you’ll be reporting in. You can work as a featured news reporter, in consumer news, or in health news, for example. This can depend on your personality and what you like doing the most. If you’re more funny and relaxed, then the quirky human interest stories may be more your speed; if you’re more serious, then you may cover more intense topics like homicide.
- If you don’t want to be negatively impacted by the news you share, then you may consider working in consumer, medical, or features news. They may be a little less exciting, but they’ll also be less emotionally draining.
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20. Forget about holidays at home.
The truth is you will hardly ever get holidays off. You will most likely be working. Established main anchors at TV stations will most likely get holidays off, which means you will be stuck at work. If you constantly move markets every couple of years to increase your salary and experience, you will always be the new kid on the block, which means you won’t have seniority. So, you can kiss Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Fourth of July, and Labor Day goodbye.
- Also “sweeps” months (when stations monitor how many people are watching) will be off limits for vacation time. These months include: February, May, July and November.
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21. Be prepared for a demanding schedule.
You may be placed on the morning shift, the evening shift, a split shift and the weekend shift at any given moment. New reporters especially have very little say in the hours they work. Working overtime is very common and few stations pay overtime.
- Not only will your schedule be demanding, but it may change at a moment’s notice. You’ll need to not only be available, but to be flexible.
22. Advance your career.
There are a number of ways to advance your career, and this doesn’t always mean working at bigger and better news stations. You can go “network hopping,” which means moving from one station to the next to gain more responsibilities and to build your reputation. However, if you’ve had enough of this rigorous lifestyle and have built up enough prestige, then you can consider getting into the talk show forum route, work as a syndicated columnist for a major paper, or even turn to being an author, a public relations specialist, an editor, or a college professor.
- Just remember that it can take a decade or longer to move past the traditional route of a TV reporter or news anchor.
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23. Keep it professional.
Unfortunately, unlike in most other professions, if you make a big mistake in the field of reporting or anchoring, it may be on permanent record. You don’t want to be the reporter who is famous for cursing on national television or who muttered an objectionable and offensive term in front of hundreds of viewers. If you make a mistake like that, you may not be forgiven.
- If you’re also known for public outbursts, you’ll need to get that under control before you get behind the camera.
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24. Be persistent.
Persistence is a valuable skill any reporter/anchor should have. You’ll not only need this skill to land that first job, but you’ll need it to move up in the ranks and to really work hard to get that dream job you’ll be fighting for. If you investigate your stories yourself, then persistence is a valuable quality that you’ll need to make sure you can follow leads, look elsewhere when you get a dead end, and to keep trying until you succeed.
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Join a professional association for broadcast journalists like the National Association of Broadcasters, Radio Television News Directors Association, National Association of Nigerian Journalists, National Association of Black Journalists or the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, to name a few.
TV news is a small and incestuous field. Everyone knows everyone and reputations spread quickly.