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How to Get a Job Doing TV News

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The anchors you see reading the nightly news are far from the only professionals on a TV news staff. If you’re interested in working in this field, you might pursue a career as a videographer who shoots the stories, a producer who organizes the flow of the show, a writer who writes the news, a reporter who covers breaking stories, a video editor or even an assignment editor who scouts out the stories worth covering. Whatever specialty you choose, you’ll get your start through a mix of education and experience.

What You’ll Study

  • The first requirement for landing a TV news job is having the right education. You’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications or a related field, such as English or film. If your college offers courses in broadcasting, or perhaps even a specialty degree in broadcasting, take those courses. More general coursework in the principles of journalism is also a good start. Some aspiring journalists opt to earn a master’s degree in journalism as well, although it’s not generally required for most journalism jobs.

Getting Your Feet Wet

  • As with most professions, you’ll need to start gaining experience as early as possible. If your school has a newspaper, magazine or campus TV program, join it. If not, you can also gain experience by starting your own online blog or podcast or by volunteering at a community radio or TV station. While having TV or video experience is best, having any sort of journalism experience is better than none. After college, get more work experience — and industry connections — through internships or by freelancing for smaller news stations or newspapers.

Demonstrating Your Skills

  • All journalists need to maintain a portfolio that shows the types of work they have done and what they’re capable of doing. If you aspire to be a reporter, anchor, video editor or videographer, that might mean collecting video clips and putting them together on a “reel” — basically a DVD or online video file you can show to prospective employers. For writers or producers, you may need to compile a document that demonstrates your best written work and also produce a video reel. Some journalists opt to create an online portfolio; others use a mix of paper portfolio and online or DVD video clips. When you find a job you want, you’ll provide employers access to the reel and portfolio, as well as a well-written cover letter and resume.

Where to Find Jobs

  • Expect fierce competition even for the jobs at small-market TV stations — as well as relatively low pay. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, all professions in the field of journalism are expected to decline between 2012 and 2022. The median wage as of 2012 was $35,870. You’ll likely need to work at a small-town TV station before you can land a job in cities such as New York, Los Angeles or Atlanta. Landing an internship — typically unpaid — at a station where you would like to work can increase your odds of getting a job there, although the competition for internships can also be pretty stiff. You may need to take several internships and be open to part-time or freelance work to get your foot in the door. Also keep in mind that working at a TV station is just one avenue to pursue. Don’t overlook jobs for Web-only publications, prominent blogs with video channels or jobs for private businesses that focus on video, film or even radio production.