Three Entry Level Television Jobs with Real Growth Potential

television jobs

Television jobs often revolve around the Newsroom, the center of production for any network

If a lifestyle comprised of long, weird hours, urgency around every corner and being song poisoned by the ringing melody of breaking news is appealing to you, a life in Television could be the journey you are seeking.

Probably not the ringing endorsement you so desired, but to be honest, that is exactly the life I sought out, found, and have loved for many years.

I’m not the type that craves a 9 to 5 pattern, I like a little chaos, a dash of crazy and a just a touch of a stomach ulcer to keep things exciting. There is no time for Trivia Crack or Words With Friends – television jobs require the utmost focus and attention, we’re making news here people!

Have I sold you yet? Dying to step into the newsroom and start making TV magic?

Yeah, me too.

Working in Television is an addiction, a workday full of adrenaline rushes and decisions that affect an audience’s perception of what is important and what they should care about. Now that is powerful stuff and a wonderful purpose.

Just like television jobs themselves, this intro has a little bit of crazy in it, so I’ll get to the point. Want to make it in television? Here are three starting points that can lead to really great things over the span of your career:

entertainment careers in television

Multimedia Journalist

This term didn’t even exist 10 years ago, so let me explain the role to you.

It’s what we used to call a “One Man Band”, which isn’t meant to be offensive to the ladies out there. A “One Man Band” is just an idiom for a dorky guy playing the drums, banjo, trumpet, violin and tuba all at once while convincing a Monkey to play the cymbals for a bag of peanuts.

television jobs katie hargitt racing

Multimedia Journalist Katie Hargitt in pursuit of a story

Make sense now? Alright let me try again.

Small to mid-sized TV stations expect their Reporters to do a multitude of tasks outside of looking and sounding good on air. They are expected to write, shoot video, edit, produce, set-up interviews… and look and sound good delivering the news on air.

Hence the “One Man Band” catchphrase.

At some point, when social media and digital became an added responsibility of this particular television job, someone decided to rename it a “Multimedia Journalist” which to be honest, sounds awesome. I particularly like it when some stations refer to the role as an “MMJ” as if saying Multimedia Journalist was too much of a time commitment. (#sarcasm)

You’re probably thinking to yourself, when did being a Reporter with all of these responsibilities become an entry level television job? Good question!

You may have noticed this crazy thing called the internet where people can get news instantaneously, well, that thing has affected the Nightly News.

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Millennials don’t wait around for the 6 pm news to get answers (and neither do Gen Xers (like me)). If TV stations didn’t start adapting to the consumption patterns of their audience, they’d shrivel up and die…like newspapers. In adjusting to the audience, more and more stations have put a greater emphasis on hyper local reporting for their station website, which is more agile and up-to-date than slogging through Ellen to see the lead story at 4 pm.

Small to mid-sized TV stations want fresh young faces that are adept at technology, intelligent, charismatic and engaging – not just on the TV screen but on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

If you’ve ever considered working as a journalist on-air and on social, now is a great time.

Intern while in college, make a demo reel, practice your craft, follow other reporters on Twitter and ask them for advice and write, write, write. Being a Multimedia Journalist means you may craft more stories for the web than the TV…but it’s a start for something bigger.

production assistant jobs television jobs

Television jobs, like being a Production Assistant, aren’t always glamorous, but they are an incredibly important stepping stone for TV careers

Production Assistant

Since I started my career as a Production Assistant at CNN, I still feel a deep connection to this role (to be honest, being a PA may have been my favorite of many television jobs). It’s the starting point of many young journalists who don’t desire the view from in front of the camera.

Let’s talk about expectations. If you don’t have these skills in your repertoire you probably aren’t going to crack the interview cycle, so start here:

  • You must know non-linear editing. Video editing is the process of manipulating video and audio to look fantastic on air (or to make your cat look really special on YouTube). Linear editing has to be assembled one shot after another in order – hence the term linear – and it was really popular in the 80s (which were a long time ago). Non-Linear editing uses digital manipulation, where you can load “clips” into an edit machine and put them in whatever order you want, at any time. Long story short, most news stations only have linear editors for backup if there is a hardware crash, and since no one in the building even knows how to use them anymore, they are kind of useless. Learn Non-Linear editing on machines like Avid and Quantel or software like Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro. It’s fun, and essential.
  • Know how to run a camera. Being versatile is important for a PA.
  • Study Journalism and take TV production classes. Learn to write and tell a story, if you are going to advance to a Producer role you’ll need that skill.
  • Be willing. Willing to take on anything, willing to listen, willing to learn, willing to make mistakes and get better. Attitude counts.
  • Internships also count. Do as many as you can – big stations, small stations, networks, cable – just being in the newsroom and absorbing the workflow and aura is very useful.
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Assignment Editor

Assignment Editors are the heartbeat of the newsroom, often overlooked and under-appreciated, ask any Producer and they’ll acknowledge it’s the Assignment Editors that have one of the most important television jobs.

The thrust of the role is finding and developing stories through sources, publicists, working the phones, listening to scanners and being connected to the local community. Journalism skills are important, since Assignment Editors often have to decide what is important and what isn’t.

After they assess the value of a story, they assign a crew to cover it – Reporter, Camera Operator, Field Producer – and communicate with show Producers to let them know what is being worked on.

It is a fast-paced job that can develop into a role Producing and eventually managing a newsroom.

Final Thought

If you are willing to get into the crazy world of television production, these are three jobs that can really get you started on the right path. There are others, and maybe we’ll do a part 2 in the near future, but this should be enough to get you started.

If you have questions about a specific career path, or what a job in the newsroom entails – just ask in the comments below, we answer everything.

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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. Clora Ferguson says:

    Hello,
    I am in school for Project Management. I am looking for entry level project management jobs in the entertainment industry. Do you know any entry level positions or trainee programs?

    Thank you,

    Clora Ferguson
    Cloraferguson@sbcglobal.net

  2. Steve Spracale says:

    I just retired from teaching after twenty-five years. I still have a few good years left in me. I just hit that dreaded number in January. I’m AP trained and can speak in front of anyone. Someone give me a shot.

    Steve
    Phoenix

  3. Michael Morgese says:

    I’ve been trying to break into the field of production but have been unsuccessful. This past august I received my masters degree in interactive communication and in May 2013 I received my bachelor’s in film, video and interactive media. I had three work-related internships and currently work part time as a video production associate for Rutgers Athletics. I am very familiar with non-linear editing, after effects and script writing. However, I’ve been unable to secure a full-time production assistant position. I would appreciate any advise on how I could get me foot in the door. Thank you

  4. Henry Greene says:

    Looking for something in Documentation Imaging

  5. Asia Caston says:

    Hi I’m a freshman in college and I’m looking into becoming a sports reporter. I was wondering if you still work at a station and if so which and can I schedule a time I can come and just shadow and see how it is for you. Also I know you probably get tons of request but I would love if you could consider helping me out and maybe being a mentor. I would really appreciate it and thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this.

    • Asia – I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about the industry, I would also advise you read our blog over at workinsports.com/blog there are more sports specific advice columns there (also written by me) and if you have a demo reel, feel free to send it to me and I will give you an honest evaluation and critique. Just remember to have a thick skin, this can be a tough business! bclapp at workinsports.com or bclapp at workinentertainment.com

  6. Could a position as sales account executive eventually lead to a reporting position at a local news station?

    • Anything is possible B – I’d suggest trying to break into a production role instead of sales, but getting in the building allows you to volunteer in other departments, find mentors, learn about the business and more. If you want to be a reporter, make friends with the Producers, Directors, PA’s editors and of course, other reporters… pick their brains, learn their skills, ask smart questions and start to build up a demo reel. – Brian

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