Want a Job in Front of the Camera? You Have Two Choices…

There are thousands of people that dream of working in front of the camera as a TV anchor, reporter, meteorologist, sportscaster – you name it – but it can be tough launching an on air career and progressing to a top market. In our estimation there is a good way to get your on camera career going…and a great way. We explain the difference between the two in this short video.



Video Transcript for “Want a Job in Front of the Camera? You Have Two Choices…”

Want a Job in Front of the Camera? You Have Two Choices... Click To Tweet

Brian Clapp, WorkinEntertainment.com Director of Content: Working in front of the camera is definitely one of the most popular jobs in the entire television industry. Reporters, anchors, analysts – these are the jobs that so many people seek out when they consider a television career.

But how? That is the question we get asked so often, how do I become a reporter? How do I become an anchor?

In my view, there are two primary ways to go about it, and either method starts out with:

TV anchor jobs reporter jobs

There are a really two options for establishing yourself in an anchor or reporter job

 

That is the baseline expectation for either one of your paths to becoming a tv reporter, anchor or analyst. After you’ve done those things, here are the specifics of each career path concept:

Path #1: You build your demo reel and begin sending it out to every small market station from 125-215 and hope that you get a bite. If you do you will then go to a small market station, you’ll get a lot of experience doing many tasks and covering varying types of stories. Then your goal is to make a move to cut the market in half, meaning, if you started in market 180, you hope your next job is in the market 90 range, the next 45 ish, the next 20’s. It can be a slow build, but it’s worth it in the end.

This method has some pitfalls though. You are going to a small market station, which means you will also have small market producers, small market facilities, and small market technology. You may not be learning everything you need or have strong mentorship, which will push you to a bigger market and help you become capable of performing at a larger market. That path may not work as simply as it seems.

That path may not work as simply as it seems.

To start your on-camera career, consider a special job off-camera. We explain. Click To Tweet

I advocate a different path.

I say once you graduate college you should take the skills you have learned – video editing, camera work, audio operation – and go work at a bigger market station as a production assistant. Maybe even a national network like a CNN, MSNBC or Fox News Channel.

When you work as a production assistant at a top market station or a national network you are now surrounded by the top producers, top technology, top end reporters, news directors and mentors. You will learn so many skills that will help you become a well-rounded reporter.

I’m not suggesting you give up on your dream of working on camera, quite the opposite, I suggest you talk to the reporters there, work on your demo reel there, work with the technology there. Then your first step out into the reporter marketplace your resume will have a stand out feature showing you’ve worked at a big market like a Dallas, New York or Chicago, or even better a national network, and learned from the best of the TV industry.

That’s the kind of experience many mid-market stations are looking for. Now you’ll be able to start your reporting career at around market 100 because you’ll have adifferent layer of experience than someone just starting out. You’ll be able to bring your knowledge of how the biggest stations and networks operate, making you a valuable piece of the mid-market community.

I believe this path sets you up for more career success, in fact, I know many people who have followed this advice and after working at a larger network or major market off-camera, have seen their on-air career start at a higher market and grow faster.

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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. This would be a dream job for me as a sports commentator. The problem is I alraedy know that I would never get the chance because I have never played professional sports. I do know every sport like the back of my hand and even say the things before the commentators say. If I was given the chance to prove myself which nobody will give the opportunity I would shine. The key word is no one would ever give the chance to an average person who is a major Sports enthusiast. I know every sport from bowling to football, or just say there is not a sport out there I don’t know the rules and statistics.

    • Scott – first off, and this may be a little harsh, but… lose the negative attitude! In one paragraph you mentioned three times no one would ever give you a chance. Just so you know, about 90% of sports anchors and reporters never played professional sports, so get rid of that preconceived notion. If you want to be a sportscaster, put together a plan, learn the trade, practice, write stories, build a demo reel, intern, job shadow, volunteer, learn to edit video, learn to operate a camera…don’t think about what will “never” happen, if it’s your dream go for it! And read our blog over at http://www.workinsports.com/blog lots of advice on becoming a sports reporter or anchor – Brian (who has hired about 20 sports broadcasters in his career and worked with about 200)

  2. I would love to be the next woman Sports reporter/anchor. I love sports and have played them all my life. I’m a huge ncaa football fanatic. I would give or do anything to have a chance. I would be Awesome at this job cause I’m very enthuastic, motivated, dedicated, and educated. Brian I live in Columbus, Ga, how would you recommend I get my foot in the door?

  3. I need some advice. I am graduating from University in May and I have done all of the things you mentioned but I’ve been facing a bit of a dilema. I taught myself how to use final cut pro and was good enough at it to create an online web series that got a total of over 90 thousand views. I also have written for USA Today, Elite Daily, Animal planet.com, and Fox Bussiness.com. As far as internships I’ve worked for big name networks like Fox, ABC, and Discovery Channel. I went to a career fair last august and Bloomberg told me they were interested in having me as a reporter. they liked that l had developed my experience at such a fast rate and they loved that l had such a large social media presence (50 thousand followers on twitter, 18 thousand on instagram, etc) They did not know that l was still in school and they asked me to come back when l graduate. they also told me to audit a class on economics while I’m still enrolled so that l “officially” qualify for the job once l graduate. but my question is- if i can get an offer from a national network without even finishing college, what kinds of local markets should l look into? Couldn’t l start off in a way higher market? I am currently working on my demo reel and l want to know what a realistic market range would be. I don’t want to sell myself short by starting off in a tiny market if l have already received the attention of a national network. I would take the job with bloomberg, but i cannot move to new york for personal reasons. What do you think i should do? please help .

    • Anonymous, I think this is less of a dilemma and more of an opportunity….but let’s dial back for a second. From your above story it doesn’t sound like you had an offer from a national network (Bloomberg) you said they were interested. That is still great, but it’s not the same as an offer. My advice is simple and it follows the advice in the video – step 1: get your demo reel perfect. Step 2 send it out to stations with openings in mid to large markets…if you are as qualified as you appear, maybe you are the rare exception that will start out in a large market. If you don’t gain any interest in those markets, look into smaller markets and build your way up – or as I suggest in the video, get a PA job at a larger network, develop your reel, learn as much as you can and be ready for bigger opportunities when they arise! And if you have a chance to reply, include the links to your articles on USA Today et all, I’d love to check them out!
      Best of luck – Brian

  4. Cheryl Johnson says:

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks so much for your insightful and helpful perspective! After over 20 years in features production and media training followed by 4-5 years in accounting (it’s a long story), I am having to re-invent myself for the industry I love so much. I’ve decided to add editing to my portfolio; I learned Final Cut Pro VII on a basic level, and am getting ready to learn Adobe Premiere Pro Creative Suite (would love to get certified, but that will take some time & money — will try anyway!). In the meantime, I’m hoping my 5-6 year stint in accounting isn’t going to hurt my chances at landing a creative job of my dreams. Your ideas will definitely be put to good use!

  5. Hi. Brian
    I’ve Always wanted to be an actress but I don’t have any experience, and everyone just keep teling me that it’s really hard,is there any chances that I could be an actress??

    • Parmis, That’s a hard thing for someone to answer who has never met, or even made eye contact, with you. I think the first question would be — can you act? – Brian

  6. I have tried applying for production assistant jobs but I never receive any calls back. What type of things are new directors looking for when they are hiring for a production assistant?

    • Deandre – they are looking for TV Production skills – non-linear video editing, camera operation, writing, audio, possibly graphics manipulation…those are the basics you need to know to be considered. I’d stress non-linear editing the most, you need to be an expert at Avid or Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere Pro… – Brian

  7. I’ve done some small independent films and some voiceover professional training with Harlan Hogan. I’d like to do more voiceover work but I’m needing a demo tape. Many of these producers are very high priced so do you have any good references for helping me get my demo done?

    Thanks!

  8. Hey Brian,
    Couldn’t help but notice you’re procrastinating on transcribing because you don’t find it “fun”…
    I’ll do it for you! At 65 WPM, I’ll have it done the same day you post.
    Random comment, I know…but thought I’d put it out there. 🙂

    • Thanks Danielle – it’s a great offer and I appreciate it, but I’ll just keep banging them out, it doesn’t take me long…it just slipped my mind, I’ll get on it. =Brian

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