Earlier this week I received an e-mail from a senior at Lakeland High School in Rathdrum, Idaho enrolling at the University of Idaho as a journalism major this coming fall semester. She's writing a research paper titled "Why does your future career choice suit you?"
She listed 25 questions such as "What provoked you to choose the profession?', "How many years of school did you go through?", "Who was your inspiration?" and so on. Question number eight was a common question I get, "What are your recommendations for someone considering this profession?"
My answer? Apply for internship.
That's how most all producer, photographer, reporters and anchors get their first job. The absolute best way to begin your journey into the world of broadcast journalism is working as an intern.
It's your first honest way to get a glimpse inside a working newsroom and understand how the television business works. Many of the things you learn on the job aren't necessarily the things you learn in the classroom. Not everyone who is working in t.v. news graduated with a degree in
The good news most all television stations around the country offer internships. The bad news is most if not all, are unpaid. But I promise you, the lessons you learn and the people you meet will become invaluable down the line. And here's a little fact, sure it's about what you know but sometimes, it's more about WHO you know when it comes to getting your first paid position.
Besides not getting paid you'll be doing jobs that no one else wants to do. Plan on answering phones, listening to scanners, logging videotapes and transcribing word for word interviews that reporters conducted earlier in the day, things that don't involve sitting on the anchor desk or holding a microphone.
To start simply call or physically go to your local t.v. news station and fill out an application. Don't call the newsroom and ask for the News Director of the main anchor. You can call the newsroom and ask if they're accepting application and if they can direct you to the right person to talk to. If you're willing to move you have more than a thousand t.v. stations to choose from. There are more than 200 t.v. markets in the country each broken down by households.
For example the number one market in the country is New York. New York has an estimated 7.5 million television households which represents a little over six a half percent of the country. Going down the list after New York is Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Washington DC, and rounding out the top 10 is Houston, Texas.
The market size all depends on how many t.v. household are in that specific city. Spokane, Washington is market 75 with about 419,000 television households. To give you some perspective, the smallest market in the United States is Glendive, Montana at 210. It has under 4000 television households. Number 209 is North Platte, Nebraska with just over 15,000.
In most cases each city has at least three t.v. news affiliates; ABC, CBS and NBC. You'll also find FOX and the CW. Unless you live in a New York won't find CNN, MSNBC or Fox News.
Another requirement to apply for an internship is being enrolled in college. I had three internships during college and for each internship I earned college credit, anywhere from 3 to 6 credits.
So, if you you want to be the next Peter Jennings or your hometown general assignment reporter, the best way to start is by getting an internship and seeing first hand what goes on in a real life newsroom.