News gathering, working sources, getting strangers to open up on camera. Reporters, especially multimedia journalists like myself, have a tall order every day. If you’re anything like me as a one-woman band in TV, not only are you shooting and editing, you need to get information, process it and make it worthwhile to watch.
Broadcast news, particularly in local television, is going through major changes with technological advances. That’s nothing new. Unfortunately, along with those changes, early career journalists trying or thinking of entering the field are changing too, and sometimes not for the better.
In many stories you do, there will be the one interview known as “the get.” For instance, when news broke about a gunman on the Florida State University campus in December, everyone wanted to hear from the gunman’s family. I got it.
Live reporting in the field should be defined by Murphy’s Law: What can go wrong will go wrong. I cannot count how many times I have been on an active scene and right before a live hit, everything I was going to reference in a walk-and-talk quickly goes away.
Sheriff: “We have at least two shots fired in the theater.” (five minutes later) Sheriff: “Only one shot was fired and it went through the wife’s hand into her husband’s chest.” (Producer calls) Producer: “We have aerial footage from the chopper in house.
Going into work comes with the nail-biting issue of pitching stories. Even though I have been working professionally for six years, the pressure to produce is still there. I try to come in with three hard news stories each day. There are news cycles where my sources have nothing, and I walk in the door empty-handed.
April 2012 marked the end of a daunting job search that lasted more than six months. Goal: Land in a Top 20 Market or stay at my current station and wait for my contract to expire. The challenge was laid out, and it was the longest fight — albeit psychological — in my life.
Embarking on the “broadcast television tour” can evoke excitement and panic. I have always compared it to a game of hopscotch: You can land in any state or country when you make jumps in your career. For this column I’ll assume you’ve landed that first reporting job.
Make beat calls. Pitch three solid stories. Call and set up interviews. Wait for people to call you back to confirm interviews. Drive yourself to interviews. Pick up, carry and set up your own equipment. Take still photographs that represent your story on the Web.