The Secret to Landing TV Reporter Jobs

tv reporter jobs kate bartley whio

WHIO-TV’s Kate Bartley has learned a few tricks during her three years as a TV reporter, having fun is one of them

Part of being a good TV reporter is to expect the unexpected, question things, dig for stories where other people might not think to look and pursue leads with great enthusiasm.

This is all very true and could be part of a wonderful brochure you read while sitting in the career services building at your university, but there is some fine print to that job description.  Namely, expect your first TV reporter job to be in a town you’ve never heard of.

And that is the true challenge of beginning a career as a TV reporter, starting in a (very) small market and slowly working your way up the “market ladder”. Climbing your way from Bend, Oregon (Market #192) to Macon, Georgia (#118), then on to Little Rock, Arkansas (#56) until your big break takes you to Miami (#16).

But not everyone follows this standard.  Kate Bartley had other plans in mind, beginning her TV career at WHIO in Dayton, Ohio…market #64.

The Secret to Landing TV Reporter Jobs #tvjobs Click To Tweet

First job, right out of the gate, top 70 market.

To learn more about how Bartley got her first TV reporter job and what her day is really like, read on:

While most aspiring TV reporters graduate and pack their bags for a town like Dothan, Alabama, you were hired at WHIO TV in Dayton – a top 70 market. Let us in on the secret…what was your approach to job seeking?  

Bartley: After graduation, I spent a year studying abroad in Indonesia, but I’d made my resume tape my senior year.

When I returned to the United States, I sent out at least 50 DVDs and I heard back from 8 stations (including those that said they’d already filled the position).  I wound up getting four interviews and, subsequently, four job offers. (Yeah!)

I think being flexible is huge– as well as taking time to make your demo reel show you in the best light. It’s essential to showcase active, compelling stand-ups: I would never include a stand-up where I didn’t move.

Tip for a TV Demo Reel: I would never include a stand-up where I didn't move Click To Tweet

While at Ball State you worked at the radio and news station – did that hands-on experience give you confidence entering the workforce?

Bartley: Absolutely! Obviously, I’m biased, but I think a four-year degree from Ball State is equivalent to at least 1-2 years of professional experience because of their immersive learning program where students spend a great deal of time in actual working conditions.

It’s still difficult to adjust to any new job, I think, but I wasn’t surprised by the “real world” environment. We’ve had a few interns from Ball State since I’ve been at WHIO– they’ve all been very hands-on and motivated.

I’m sure there was great competition, what do you think helped you stand out and separate yourself from everyone else?

Bartley: I was (am) young, which worked as an advantage and disadvantage. I think my boss and company saw that I lacked professional experience, but also that I could be groomed into what they wanted for this station. The news business is changing so much right now, I think stations are really looking for flexible workers who are willing to learn multi-platform and function in many roles.

TV Stations are looking for flexible workers who are willing to function in many roles #tvjobs Click To Tweet
TV reporter jobs kate bartley

Kate Bartley, WHIO-TV in Dayton

What is a normal day like for you as a TV reporter at WHIO?

Bartley: I anchor the 6pm and 11pm newscasts on the weekend, and then I’m a nightside reporter Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Weekends are what you’d expect– managing as much as I can, reading scripts, writing anchor packages, and filling in for sports occasionally.

During the week, I come in at 2pm. There’s usually an assignment waiting for me, so I set off and shoot that story with a photographer, usually for the 5:30pm or 6:00pm news. I’m typically the one moved to breaking news if it happens, and it often does. After the early evening news, I start in on another story for the 11pm news.

Our station prides itself on hard breaking news all the time, but reporters are always trying to enterprise, too.

During the day, I’m always recording radio interviews and focused on digital/social media by tweeting, posting to Facebook, and sending back pictures and sound for the web site.

TV reporter jobs require a lot of versatility – it’s not just about speaking on camera – what are the primary skills you learned at school that you use most often on the job?  

Bartley: I love to read! That’s so huge. I don’t think any factor has helped me more in my career.

Aside from that, storytelling is truly something you can learn to do well– and something our professors stressed at Ball State. It took me a while to feel comfortable talking to strangers– but that’s an essential skill for TV reporter jobs.

After a little over three years at WHIO, what has been the biggest challenge working as a TV reporter?

Bartley: More work, less time. My station is unique– we work in the same newsroom as Dayton’s newspaper and #1 radio news station. Three years ago, we just did TV. Now, we’re constantly trying to feed content to all the platforms as quickly as possible.  Thinking for TV just doesn’t cut it anymore.

In your opinion how does local news remain relevant in today’s society when news is available in so many immediate formats?

Bartley: My station is unique in that we have a really strong hold on most of the audience: their parents watched Channel 7, and THEIR parents watched Channel 7, etc.

I think local news just needs to evolve– people have lots of options for national news, so we need to do a good job of finding local stories they really need to hear.

We constantly talk about how our focus needs to be on digital. I don’t think there will ever be a time when people don’t want to know what’s going on in their community; we just have to make sure we’re making our content high-quality, relevant, and convenient to read/watch.

Local TV news needs to evolve by focusing and going deep on local stories #tvjobs Click To Tweet

Key Takeaways from “The Secret to Landing TV Reporter Jobs”

  • Having a high quality demo reel is the most important step towards getting hired. Tip: Don’t stand still, move on your stand-ups
  • Since stations want TV reporters versed in digital and social media, being young isn’t the detriment it once was – it can actually be a benefit
  • Being a reporter means being able to connect with the audience and tell a great story – this is a skill that can be learned,  focus on connecting with the human element in every story.

Leave you comments and questions for Kate Bartley below, and remember to use a real email address – I’ve been known to give out free 1-week memberships for great comments!

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About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.

Comments

  1. Just want to say, thanks Kate for keeping it real & for us viewers to WANT TO watch the weekend news!

  2. WilliamWhox says:

    Thanks-a-mundo for the forum post.Really thank you! Great.

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