After spending some time away, I’m finally back at HOM!
During my time off, I interned at FOX 2 WJBK, a station in the Detroit market; wrote for The State News, MSU’s student-run paper; and helped produce Focal Point, MSU’s student-run newscast. Although I learned a lot and value each of those experiences, there’s truly no place like HOM.
I’m happy to be back for my last semester and would like to share the following advice with the new rookies:
1) Make sure you want to be a news reporter for the right reasons.
Make sure your motives are the right ones. Being a journalist is about uncovering the facts, informing the public and telling people’s stories, even when they’re difficult. Don’t make yourself the center of attention. The story is what’s important. With that said, if your story doesn’t need your face in it with a standup, leave it out!
2) Be persistent.
It’s important to be persistent in this business. If everyone you contact doesn’t want to talk to you about a story, find someone who will. It may take some more time out of your day to ask around, but once you find a source that’s willing, it will be worth it. Your story will be better because of it.
3) Accept criticism. In fact, ask for some!
Criticism is what helps us grow as reporters. We aren’t perfect. No one is, except for Diane Sawyer. So, unless you’re Diane, listen to those who critique you. In fact, send your work to news directors or other reporters in the business and ask for their advice. They’ve been in your shoes before and most of the time, are willing to help!
4) There’s always room for improvement.
Like I said before, you’re no Diane Sawyer. You can get better. So don’t be cocky, don’t think you’re better than everyone and don’t forget to be humble. You don’t want to be “that girl” (or boy!).
5) Your only competition is yourself.
Yes, you are competing against other people for jobs and this is a competitive business; however, it’s important to stay focused on yourself and where you can improve. There’s always going to be someone you think is prettier, or more talented, etc. Heck, every reporter is going to be taller than me (even in heels)! But there’s only one you. Embrace your own reporting style and grow on your own terms. When you focus on improving yourself and not competing against others around you, good things will come your way, I swear.
6) We live in Michigan, so be prepared.
It’s in the shape of a mitten for a reason. It’s cold here. It’s no secret. Buy a parka, buy some gloves, buy some hand warmers and buy some more gloves. You’re going to need it. Ask my boyfriend, he’s helped me shoot my standups before (Hi, George!).
7) ALWAYS check your bag before you go and then check it AGAIN.
Make sure you have extra batteries, make sure your lav mic has a clip to go with it and make sure you bring extra P2 (or SD) cards. It’s essential to be prepared because SO many things can go wrong when shooting and there are so many things you need to remember to bring along the way.
8) Wear colors so you pop and avoid patterns!
Bright colors are great for TV, especially pastels. Pastels are easily seen by the camera, and most people can find a pastel color that looks good with their skin tone. And, heck, it’s an excuse to make your mom go shopping with you for every color blazer (thanks, mom!). Also, avoid busy patterns, like stripes. It’s distracting for the viewer.
9) Always wear headphones.
I know it’s annoying, but it’s a biggy. It’s important to hear the audio. This way, you can catch things before the interview is over and you’re in the editing bay stuck with footage that has no audio (or audio just from the camera mic).
10) Yes, working 40+ hours a week unpaid sucks.
I’ve been there. But it’s called experience and it’s, unfortunately, how this business works. You have to start somewhere. Trust me, though, you will value this time and appreciate all the hard work you put in when you get your first job.
10) Have fun!
There’s a lot of things to remember and this is a stressful career we chose, but remember to enjoy it. Fall in love with each and every story you do and make people fall in love with it too.
One last thing…when you’re having a sucky-everything-is-going-wrong-kind-of-day, watch this blooper video of my boyfriend and I shooting standups in this lovely Michigan weather. I hope it makes you feel better.
I could go on and on, but a new episode of Pretty Little Liars is about to come on, so…I have to go!
Good luck, out there! Don’t forget your parka!