Broadcast Journalism

5 Tips for Getting Started in Broadcast Journalism

Broadcast journalism is a profession that requires knowledge, hard work, and commitment. It is not a profession for the faint-hearted, as it requires ample time for preparation and presentation. Like other media, the advent of digital platforms and the Internet has led the field to evolve quickly in a short period of time, requiring aspiring broadcast journalists to master many new skills than their more traditional predecessors ever needed.  

Here are just a few tips to get on the right track and set yourself up to become a successful multimedia journalist (MMJ) in the 21st century:

Getting the right education

A proper education doesn’t just get you certifications that will boost your resume and get you in the door, but gives you well-rounded training in a field that is constantly changing. NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism school has working, experienced faculty members who keep up with the current industry landscape and can share that experience with their students.

As part of the New York Film Academy, NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism school also applies a large focus on the technical aspects of digital broadcast journalism — producing and shooting video, editing, on-camera presentation — skills that multimedia journalists will need to learn in order to be successful in a digital landscape.

Broadcast Journalism Reporter

Getting industry experience

Maneuvering interview rooms with little or no experience will prove unfruitful in broadcast journalism. Getting the relevant experience is thus a fundamental aspect of a career in broadcast journalism.“A graduate may intern for a company to get the necessary experience,” explains Steve Doane, Career Coach at ConfidentWriters.

Additionally, entry-level jobs as production assistants or post-production assistants can be key to working your way up the ladder into more significant positions. Learning the practical skills needed for multimedia journalism, such as those mentioned above as taught by NYFA, are a solid way toward earning those entry-level jobs.

For MMJs, it is also essential to have some experience with social media. In an increasingly networked modern era, mastering the use of social media sites as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great assets for news anchors, and thus part of your training at NYFA’s broadcast journalism school.

Networking 

Creating a network is a key step in journalism. Budding journalists should join such professional organizations such as Society of Professional Journalists, which also provides tons of helpful resources for broadcast journalists, by broadcast journalists. Additionally, keeping close ties to the community of journalists as a whole will help you stay up-to-date on the latest trends, as well as career advancement opportunities.

Learning From the Best

NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism school not only utilizes working professionals as faculty members, but often has high-profile guest speakers come and speak to students directly about their careers in the industry. Learning directly from those who have come before you and made similar journeys can be immensely beneficial.

Watch as many lectures, interviews, and videos with industry professionals and leaders on YouTube and other platforms as you can, absorbing their insight and advice and avoiding pitfalls they’ve come to learn the hard way.

Seeing these speakers in person, however, affords even more benefits, as you may have the opportunity to ask them questions directly. Past guest speakers at NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism school include Rachel Maddow (MSNBC), J.P. Olsen (VICE NEWS TONIGHT), and Sharon Hoffman (Entertainment Tonight.)

Broadcast Journalism Reporter

Stay focused

Broadcast journalism is competitive and tough. However, with focus, determination, and commitment, a graduate can go very far in this industry. Set goals and work toward them. Such focus can potentially see a journalist through from an entry-level position to a reputable job with an established news or media company, such as NYFA Broadcast Journalism alumni George Colli (WTNH), Lea Gabrielle (Fox News Channel). Grace Shao (China Global Television Network), and Nicolle Cross (ABC, Austin, TX affiliate).   

Apply Now for a Broadcast Journalism Program

Written by Paul Bates

Paul Bates is a writer and storyteller at BeeStudent and Essay Task educational platforms and a contributor at HuffPost and Buzzfeed. Also, Paul is an online tutor at PaperResearch service.

Differences Between TV and Radio/Podcast Journalism

With the ubiquity of digital technologies and the unrelenting demand for news around the clock, broadcast journalists have now become the quintessential multitaskers of the 21st century media. Increasing your chances of getting employed in the world of broadcast journalism requires a skillset beyond just being able to gather, collate, and  deliver information using a teleprompter; it also requires sound knowledge behind the camera, like shooting, editing, and various production requirements for your particular medium — new media, print, television, podcasts, you name it.

Becoming well-versed on an array of platforms gives you a larger pool of choices when deciding which avenue to pursue, as well as impressing a larger number of employers. With that in mind, here are some helpful tips on the differences between journalism in television and radio/podcasts.

Writing and Editing

In television, what the audience sees is critical to the information they process and how they interpret it. For that reason, everything on television is bigger, flashier, and significantly less focused on words. Unlike the radio or podcast format, where the responsibility to visualize the story lies in the audience’s imagination, multimedia journalists and reporters on television deliver a “voice-over” serving as an accompaniment to videos or images — basically acting as a caption to what is seen.

The practice of editing video before writing the text is rarely followed in a television newsroom, though reporters do keep the video in mind when writing, editing the video to then fit the words. What’s most important is to always keep the words simple, short, and succinct, so as not to overwhelm the audience with too much  information at once.

Using simple vocabulary helps engage as well as reach a larger audience. This doesn’t differ much from radio news, although an emphasis on descriptive words and paying particular attention to pronunciation is a lot more critical for radio listeners than it is for TV viewers.

Additionally, since radio listeners are usually engaged in other activities while listening, scripts for radio newscasters usually use a “conversational” style to keep the listener’s attention.  

Formats

Sequencing formats and the stacking of a show on television also differs from radio and podcast news. For instance, a viral video may become the opening story on television, but without the power of visuals, radio and podcasts must prioritize the most attention-grabbing stories using only words, resulting in the viral video story being pushed further back in the show once the listener’s already invested.  

Additionally, weather forecasts and traffic conditions are usually later in the program on television — unless extreme weather conditions or massive traffic jams are the top stories of the day. TV news programs communicate meteorological findings and forecasts with maps and other graphics, many of which depend on chroma key effects.

Contrastingly, 90 percent of car commuters listen to radio, increasing the importance of a traffic reports exponentially for radio news and moving it to the top of the program.

Staff

Although having the advantage of video and images in relaying to audiences what  words sometimes cannot, television broadcasting requires many more people and resources to cover a story.

A field reporter, for example, is ideally accompanied by a camera operator — though it’s even better for your career options if you’re able to act as your own producer, editor, and talent. Multimedia journalists (MMJs) are in high demand.

Radio reporters and podcasters, however, can attend interviews and go on location with nothing but a handheld recording device. This makes it easier to retrieve anecdotes and interview audio to support a story, as preparation and organisation is a lot less complicated. Plus, interviewees are sometimes more likely to agree to an interview off-camera.

With all this considered, it really comes down to personal preference when deciding which medium to pursue as a budding broadcast journalist. Just remember to stay vigilant, be resourceful, and always be curious!

What is your favorite medium to keeping up with the news? Let us know in the comments below! And learn more about Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy.

Trends in Journalism to Watch Out for in 2018

Innovations, whether you’re talking about television or the internet, have continued to change how the average person discovers news. And no matter where you look, technology still doesn’t show signs of slowing down. Here are the four biggest journalism trends this year that we consider to be at the top of the list:

Offline But Not Disconnected


There’s no denying the power the internet has when it comes to keeping people informed and connected. In this day and age, it’s far more likely to learn about a current event via a WiFi-connected mobile device such as a tablet or smartphone. Tech companies everywhere are enjoying the benefit of features such as push notifications that keep their readers engaged and wary of their latest information.

But what about when they can’t count on their internet connection? Sooner or later, people find themselves in an area or building where Wi-Fi either doesn’t work or runs too slow. According to The Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report 2017, apps are making a comeback, which means we are seeing news organizations putting more focus on their offline content in order to keep consumers with unreliable internet happy.

Podcasts Continue Their Rise

Journalists and media companies know full well that text and video alone are not enough these days. Many consumers find themselves preferring content that they don’t have to read or see — all you need is a pair of ears. Much like the times of old when radios were the go-to place for news, plenty of folks today want audio news sources they can listen to while driving, working, etc.

In another survey done by Reuters Institute involving 194 leading editors, digital leaders, and CEOs, it was discovered that 58 percent of publishers plan to focus more on podcasts. The same amount will also put more effort into creating content for voice activated speakers.

More Focus on Social Media, but not Everywhere

Even a decade ago when MySpace ruled the social networking world, few could have predicted the power of social media sites in the hands of journalists. More people than ever —  especially in U.S. — prefer taking to Twitter and Facebook to get their news for the day. According to the Reuters Institute survey, the number of American that prefer social media for news has doubled since 2013.

However, trends aren’t quite going the same way elsewhere. Across all the countries surveyed, only about a third of people between the ages of 18 and 24 have social media as #1 on their list. While growth has ceased in the United Kingdom, places like Italy, Brazil, Australia and Portugal are actually seeing a decline.

A Push for Artificial Intelligence

When most people think about artificial intelligence (AI) they imagine robots that can help us with our daily chores before inevitably turning against us once Skynet becomes self-aware. While not as exciting as our favorite sci-fi movies, the use of artificial intelligence in the journalism industry is expected to make a big impact soon. This is why 72 percent of of the top digital leaders and editors plan to start experimenting with AI.

Why would journalists have need for artificial intelligence? According to surveys, 59 percent think AI can improve content recommendations while also detecting intentional media bias. Other uses include using AI. to help automate workflows, improve commercial optimisation, and help journalists find stories.

What are your predictions for the next biggest trends in journalism? Let us know in the comments below, and learn more about broadcast journalism at New York Film Academy.

 

Facebook & Journalism: The Influence of Facebook on the News

How many of us wake up in the morning, pick up our smartphones, and turn to Facebook? Ok, maybe you wait until you get to work or get a cup of coffee. In any case, if you look at Facebook daily, you’re not alone. There are more than 2.13 billion active Facebook users worldwide and 1.40 billion of them log on daily, according to Zephoria’s February 2018 update on Facebook statistics.

With so many of us checking in on our newsfeed regularly, it’s no surprise that Facebook’s influence on the news is huge and fraught with controversy. Here we consider how Facebook users are shaped by — and help to shape — the news.

Facebook’s power to affect politics and your emotions.

The mainstream media notoriously underestimated Donald Trump’s possibilities for winning the presidency in the weeks and months leading up to the 2016 election. And during that time, so much conspiracy and misinformation circulated on Facebook, that some observers wonder if Facebook should not shoulder some blame for allowing or missing fake news.

One such story, found in the “Trending News” section of Facebook in September from fictional WTOE 5 News, claimed that Pope Francis had endorsed Trump. Another from the fake Denver Guardian, published just days before the election, claimed that an FBI agent connected to leaks of Clinton’s emails was involved in a murder-suicide, the Deseret News reported shortly after the election, and they drew connections between the great influence Facebook could potentially have on voters, and the emotional effect it proved to have just a few years earlier.

For a week in 2012 Facebook “tinkered with users’ emotions,” according to a 2014 NY Times article. Whether Facebook was justified in its experiment or not, the results showed pretty convincingly, and not particularly surprisingly, that when shown negative content in their newsfeed, people felt worse, and when shown positive content, they felt better.

Is Facebook’s news really news?

Although Facebook is not a news site, it provides a forum for people to share the stories that excite and titillate, inflame or give smiles. Perhaps a problem is that hard news stories have to compete with weddings and funerals, cat pics and endless fun activities like seeing what you’d look like if you were a person of the opposite sex. Yet, is that so different from traditional news outlets?

“Entertainment was beating up on news long before Zuckerberg was born,” this Atlantic article reminds us. “The back sections of the newspaper have long cross-subsidized the foreign coverage of the A-section.” However, in traditional print, even if we bought the paper for the funnies or sports, we could hardly fail to notice what the publishers had decided were the day’s headlines.

With Facebook, we train our newsfeed to show us what we want to see, by liking, commenting and sharing, so we have the power to make our newsfeed truly newsy. “You can hide your most frivolous friends, follow the Facebook page of every national newspaper, and share every NBC News link that comes your way,” The Atlantic reminds us. “But you don’t.”

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Why not?

Now, Facebook is looking to better identify what is actually “news” by establishing a curated “breaking news” tab in Watch. It will feature content generated by Facebook’s news partners, and Facebook and those partners will split any revenue. That’s important, because you can’t just give content away. (Does GM give you a free car?) You somehow have to monetize it, while at the same time facing up to the perceived responsibility social media has for somehow mitigating news trolls…

Do you want to be a maker of news instead of just a consumer? Check out NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism program to learn more.

6 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Studied Broadcast Journalism

Lights, camera, action! Celebrities grace our television and movie screens on a daily basis. But not every film and television celebrity’s career started with acting. For our aspiring broadcast journalism students, it may be encouraging to hear that the skills they learn in NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism conservatory translate well to a slew of professions — including a life in the limelight.

Whether they studied broadcast journalism or communications, it might surprise you to learn these celebs were on a journalistic track … just like you:

Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey received his bachelor’s degree in radio, television, and film in 1993 from the University of Texas at Austin. Originally, McConaughey wanted to go to law school after graduating from college, but he realized he was not interested in becoming a lawyer.

David Letterman

David Letterman graduated from the department of radio and television at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He began his broadcasting career during college as an announcer and newscaster at the student-run radio station, WBST. Letterman was fired, and later became involved with another campus station, WAGO-AM 570.

Howard Stern

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Most people know Howard Stern best as a radio personality, but he is also a television host, author, and actor. Stern graduated magna cum laude from Boston University in communications. He also received a diploma from the Radio Engineering Institute of Electronics in Fredericksburg, Virginia. After completion, he earned a first class radio-telephone operator license — which is a required certificate for all radio broadcasters issued by the Federal Communications Commission.

Jerry Seinfeld

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Jerry Seinfeld first attended State University of New York at Oswego. However, during his second year, he transferred to Queens College, City University of New York. He graduated in communications and theater.

Wendy Williams

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Wendy Williams isn’t your typical daytime talk show host. Williams attended Northeastern University in Boston from 1982-1986, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in communications. While she was in college, she was a DJ for the radio station, WRBB.

James Marsden

Heartthrob James Marsden attended Oklahoma University to study broadcast journalism, but he ended up dropping out of college to pursue a career in acting.

This just goes to show, you never know where broadcast journalism can take you!

Do you know any celebrities who studied broadcast journalism? Let us know below! Ready to study broadcast journalism? Apply today for the New York Film Academy’s Broadcast Journalism School.

Broadcast Journalists: Why You Should Spend a Year in NYC

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It’s fair to say that nothing is more exciting than being a broadcast journalist in New York City. Aspiring anchors, presenters and reporters from around the world flock to this capital of commerce, entertainment, and industry, seeking to make a mark and gain experience alongside broadcast giants.

Not only is the city bursting with millions of stories, but it is also the headquarters for an astounding concentration of leading new media and traditional news companies. If you’re wondering why New York City might be the right place to spend a year studying broadcast journalism, we’ve rounded up some great reasons:

News Happens Here

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From Wall Street to Broadway, from the Bronx to Staten Island, the world pays attention to stories that center on events in New York City. For example, New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism students Ljuba-Lada Marinovic and Kyle Morris were able to make it to the scene to cover breaking news regarding a tragic car accident in Times Square, shooting a story for European media giant RTL. New York City is the right place to be if you want to be where news breaks first.

Feeding Your Passion

Broadcast journalists, first and foremost, are storytellers — and that requires passion and craft. What better way to feed your passion for journalism than by living in New York, a major global city packed with thriving culture, diversity, incredible art, amazing food, awe-inspiring landmarks, jaw-dropping skylines, and enough sizzling energy to inspire you and your work for the rest of your life?

Industry Connections

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As Forbes notes, most national media outlets are centered in only a handful of major cities, and New York is at the top of the list! Here, aspiring journalists are in the heart of the world’s leading new media companies, such as theSkimm, Group Nine Media, SheKnows, Gimlet Media, Refinery29, Mic, NewsWhip, and News Deeply.

And, if you want to go the more tradition route, there’s ABC, Univision, CBS, MSNBC, Fox News, NBC, CNN, Telemundo, ESPN, MTV, and more.

From morning shows to late night news, from new media to The New York Times, the city provides an incredible opportunity for aspiring broadcast journalists to experience their industry at its zenith.

Learn from the Best

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At the New York Film Academy, aspiring broadcasters learn from a faculty of working industry professionals who remain active in the field. And, in addition, NYFA students may have the opportunity to enjoy special master classes and workshops taught through our Guest Speaker series. Past broadcast journalism guests have included MSNBC primetime host Rachel Maddow, Emmy award-winning journalist Bob Dotson, and photojournalist Stanley Greene.

As a NYFA student you’ll talk with network Executive Producers, as well as top producers from digital news publishers, who visit NYFA to give our Broadcast Journalism students insightful “off-the-record” briefings. Students in the conservatory program get an exclusive “behind-the-scenes” tour of NBC News. Our instructors have local, national, even international production credits.

Community

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New York City is a wonderful environment to not only pursue a new professional life, but also to be able to plug in with like-minded people who are passionate about shared interests besides your work. You’ll be able to meet and develop relationships with many of the best and brightest fellow broadcasters in the world; As one of the most diverse cities on the planet, New York offers burgeoning broadcast journalism students opportunities to grow and flourish not only in their professional pursuits, but also in their personal lives. Here, the world is at your fingertips.

Incredible Training Opportunities

Most of all, New York City itself offers aspiring journalists incredible opportunities to roll up their sleeves and get busy crafting content. At the New York Film Academy’s conservatory program, broadcast students are making their own stories hands-on from day one. You’ll learn from working industry professionals and get plenty of practice covering stories from every angle with some of the latest technology. Most importantly, you will find your own “editorial voice,” the qualities that make you stand out as unique.

Ready to start your journey as a broadcast journalist in New York City? Check out NYFA’s broadcast journalism programs.

 

8 Things High School Students Can Do to Become Broadcast Journalists

More than ever, high schoolers are urged to make big career decisions as early as possible. In a competitive career like broadcast journalism, making smart choices before you even get to college is immensely helpful. If you want to have a career in media, follow these tips to set yourself apart from other applicants when the time comes:

Start a blog.

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Being able to show a wide variety of writing clips is essential, even if you would rather work on radio or television. Proving you can communicate news or other information through writing demonstrates you are able to effectively and creatively process your thoughts. There are plenty of free blogging sites like WordPress, Tumblr, Weebly, and Wix. Choose a blogging platform that is best for you, and make regular blog posts.

Volunteer to write for your school’s newspaper or literary journal.

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If your school has its own student-run publication, volunteer as a writer or editor. Just like writing blog posts, having a portfolio consisting of a variety of writing or editing examples heightens your chance of finding a job in journalism.

Work on the morning announcements.

Some schools also have morning announcements that appear over the intercom, maybe even a special channel that airs on schoolwide televisions. Ask if there are any openings or a class to enroll in so you can get involved.

Become an editor of your school’s yearbook.

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If you want to prove you can help produce a great collaborative media project, then consider joining as an editor of the school yearbook! Not only is it mass produced and seen throughout the entire school, you’ll have your own copy as a portfolio piece!

Follow news media, both on screen and in print.

Too many students interested in pursuing journalism think they don’t need to follow current trends in media. In an ever-changing career, keeping up with local, national, and international media is incredibly important. Making a regular commitment to watch and read the news will keep you learning and motivated every day.

Seek out opportunities for experience, paid or unpaid.

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You may notice a lot of entry-level broadcast journalism jobs require a good deal of experience. Keep an eye out for internships at local news or radio stations. In high school, you may only find unpaid experience. While you might not want to give up extra free time without monetary compensation, investing your time into a career-related opportunity is worth your attention. Once you graduate college, strictly pursue paid opportunities. After all, you’ll be a pro by then!

Look for great journalism programs in higher education.

When searching for the right college, ask yourself if the colleges you are considering have reputable journalism programs. How many of their alumni have found jobs within their field of study? How prepared did they feel? Consider reaching out to someone who graduated the program to ask these questions.

The New York Film Academy’s Broadcast Journalism School offers students a competitive edge as multi-media producers, with hands-on training in writing, producing, filming, editing, and distributing their own stories. If you’re ready to take the next step, apply here.

Don’t take rejection as a completely negative experience.

Rejection doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough to do broadcast journalism. It means that you need to pursue another opportunity, no matter how many times you need to do it. Even with a lot of experience, broadcast journalism is a tough career to break into. Consider expanding your options to other opportunities within journalism. If you’ve had your heart set on being a television anchor, give radio a try. You might find that you actually like radio more, or vice versa.

BONUS: Attend a NYFA Summer Camp!

If you’re really itching to get genuine journalism experience in the heart of the industry — New York City itself — you may want to apply to NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism Camp for Teens. You’ll learn from broadcast journalists who are active in the field in one of the world’s most competitive cities, while you learn real-life skills and write, shoot, and edit your own projects. Each student produces two projects, shot with single-camera setups and edited on industry-standard editing software. This intensive workshop provides a strong introduction to necessary digital and journalism skills.

 

How Broadcast Journalism is Shifting in 2017

Broadcast journalism has played a significant role over the last few decades in reporting national and international news. In 1935, Howard Armstrong broadcast the first radio transmission by using frequency modulation — which we know better as FM today.

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In the beginning, broadcast journalism was used for entertainment purposes. Radio news broadcasts did take place in the 1930s, but local commentators were limited on the length of news segments. Edward Murrow, a commentator for CBS, took over broadcast journalism and radio news there in 1937. He moved to London to become CBS’ chief correspondent for Europe, and it was then that radio news took off.

He started the pioneering radio news program “World News Roundup,” the first that allowed listeners to hear reports from around the globe. By 1940, Murrow’s audience of listeners had grown to 22 million, and included President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his cabinet. The Nazi concentration camp in Buchenwald was just one of the many sensitive topics that Murrow tackled in his radio program,

When Murrow moved back to New York City, he was approached about hosting a weekly program on a new, still largely experimental medium — television. His program, “See It Now,” aired in 1951, and helped set the standards for today’s broadcast journalism.  

 

New York Film Academy’s Broadcast Journalism School

The journalism industry can often be highly competitive — especially when it comes to broadcast journalism. The New York Film Academy’s Broadcast Journalism School isn’t your typical school. Our program offers students hands-on experience and emphasizes professional skills that will give students the edge that they need for their career in the real world.

NYFA faculty members have worked on diverse platforms such as “ABC World News Tonight,” “PBS NewsHour,” and “NBC Nightly News.” Our instructors, with real world experience, are one of the reasons that NYFA is one of the leading broadcast journalism schools in the nation. One NYFA alumna and one student journalist became accredited by the White House Press Corps, and were chose to accompany President Barack Obama to the 2016 NATO Heads-of-State Summit in Poland. This opportunity for our alumna and student journalist made history because they were the first student journalists to ever travel with the president of the U.S.

 

Broadcast Journalism and Politics

Gone are the days when presidents traveled heavily and promoted themselves door-to-door during the presidential campaign. In today’s modern age, candidates communicate with voters through multiple electronic and digital platforms. Most of the candidates were poised on social media with well-rehearsed answers for interviews. Voters generally only got glimpses of in-person interactions when the Democratic and Republican candidates bared their teeth at one another during live-streamed debates.

The relationship between broadcast journalists and political candidates is often tumultuous. In February, White House press secretary Sean Spicer barred reporters from several large outlets, including “The New York Times” and “CNN,” from attending an off-camera press briefing.  During the presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump often targeted members of the media, stating that they were feeding the public wrong information.  

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We rarely see technology transforming politics, but the election of 2016 proved that the media could inform and influence the public down to the last Instagram post. Throughout the campaign, Ted Cruz live-streamed his appearances on Periscope. Marco Rubio used “Snapchat Stories” at all his stops along the campaign trail. Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush went head-to-head on Twitter over student debt, while Bernie Sanders had almost 2 million followers on Facebook.  

Prior to the 2016 election, some presidential candidates would offer exclusive one-on-one interviews with media before Election Day. Exclusive interviews with the media are often promoted heavily but are often limited. Nonetheless, this type of exposure is free publicity and is a win-win for everyone.

Sitting down casually with talk shows are also free and harmless media coverage. President Barack Obama appeared several times on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” during his eight-year term. During his final appearance with the talk show host, Obama talked about what he had planned to do once her left office. These types of interviews can humanize a president or presidential candidate and make them more relatable with the public.

So what does this shift toward social media in the realm of political, news, and even business coverage mean for the future of broadcast journalism?

The Future of Broadcast Journalism

There has been a rapid rise of online media viewing, often driven by platforms such as video-on-demand and video-sharing websites.

While broadcast journalism remains one of the top ways to receive news, there is no doubt that digital media has emerged as the most important source of news among millennials. Aspiring broadcast journalists must adapt and learn to excel in a variety of media. That’s why the NYFA Broadcast Journalism program is a skills-based course of study. By becoming proficient in the techniques of multimedia journalism, our graduates are ready for careers in both legacy as well as digital media.

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According to Richard Sambrook, professor of journalism at Cardiff University, “…better Internet connections, better devices, and better file compression formats, combined with an aggressive expansion in online video offerings from both video on demand services like Netflix and social media platforms like Facebook means that things are changing, and that the pace of change facing television and television news providers is accelerating.”

At NFYA, we equip our broadcast journalism students with knowledge that will allow them to grow with the industry. In addition to traditional broadcast skills, our year-one broadcast students will learn how to create first-person narratives found on digital platforms such as Vice, Wired, Vox, Quartz and AJ+. We also offer a variety of intensive broadcast workshops.

What do you think the future holds for broadcast journalism? Let us know your thoughts below! And check out NYFA’s broadcast journalism programs.

 

How Facebook Live Will Impact Broadcast Journalism — And How You Can Take Advantage of It

The rise of social media has had a permanent impact on the craft of journalism. More articles are being circulated than ever before, viewer criticism is on the rise, and the danger of “fake news” has made social media both a curse and a blessing for journalists. One of the most recent impacts on journalism is the rise of Facebook Live, a feature of the social media site that allows users to stream a live video to viewers. It is used more and more by journalists, celebrities, and even politicians as a way to connect with their audience in real time. The feature also allows viewers to comment on the video and displays how many people are viewing the video as it happens.

Large TV networks and the news departments at local stations are increasingly using Facebook Live because that’s where the millennial audience is. For freelance and independent journalists, Facebook Live is their “transmitter,” allowing them to compete for viewers without investing millions of dollars on technical infrastructure. Like any skill, successfully covering a “live” event takes practice. Inevitably the first few attempts will be rough. But over time, you can begin developing the necessary abilities. One way to speed up that process is to attend a broadcast journalism school like the New York Film Academy, which specializes in helping students develop their storytelling and journalism skills.

With the popularity of Facebook Live, it is important for broadcast journalists to take advantage of this new technology. The broadcast can become more spontaneous, interactive, and entertaining. Furthermore the Facebook page is likely to have more user traffic at any given time. But it is important to know the best ways to utilize this tool before hitting that “Go Live” button.

How can you use Facebook Live to your advantage? Luckily Facebook has tons of tips on the best way to go live and get those views. We’ve summarized some helpful hints, below:

Before Recording

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Ready, set, LIVE!

According to Facebook, preparing for the live stream is just as important as the live stream itself. Make sure you tell your viewers you are going live beforehand. This gives them time to be ready to view the video and also builds anticipation for the event.

Ensure that you have a strong Wi-Fi connection. You run the risk of losing viewers if your feed goes out or lags during the stream.

Also make sure that your viewers will be able to hear you. Whether you are recording a speech, event, protest, or a simple Q&A at your desk, test the area to make sure there is no sound interference. You can do a test live recording by changing the share options to “Only Me.” This will allow you to use the live feature, but you will be the only one to see it. After recording, check the archived video to listen for any issues like traffic or a noisy AC unit.

During Recording

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Is this thing on?

Decide if you are going to answer questions during the recording. Viewers’ comments will appear next to you on the screen. Encourage people to ask questions and participate in the conversation.

Remember to smile and be relaxed during the recording. Because you are live and could potentially have thousands of eyes on you, it is easy to get stage fright. Acting comfortable and personable during the broadcast is important to make the viewers feel comfortable watching you. If you do suffer from stage fright, look up some relaxation techniques to do before you go live.

After Recording

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You’re done! Now what do you do?

Your video will be archived and posted on your Facebook page with the title that you “were live.” Update the description, thanking everyone for viewing and encourage them to follow you. This way they will be notified the next time you go live. Use this time to answer any questions you didn’t get to (if you are answering questions).

You are also able to check the stats for you video afterwards. Facebook has options for you to view peak live viewers, minutes viewed, 10 second views, and more. Use this data to find out how well you did and what you can do better the next time you go live.

Happy broadcasting! Have you shared any broadcasts via Facebook Live? Let us know in the comments below!

Women to Follow in Broadcast Journalism

With thousands of female journalists working all over the world, the field of broadcast journalism has come a long way over the last few decades. To the aspiring female journalists ready to work her way up, we recommend following these incredible women. These journalism powerhouses also started from the bottom but worked their way up the ladder to become some of the most prominent figures in the industry today.

1. Christiane Amanpour

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Born to an Iranian father and English mother, Amanpour grew up in England but left at an early age to study journalism at the University of Rhode Island’s Harrington School of Communication and Media. In 1983, she got her big break when hired by CNN as an entry-level desk assistant.

Amanpour eventually took on assignments in Europe where she reported on the fall of European communism, democratic revolutions of Eastern Europe, and the Persian Gulf War. Her reputation for being fearless grew while covering the Gulf and Bosnian wars while reporting from dangerous areas.

The British-Iranian journalist is now Chief International Correspondent for CNN, host of the nightly interview program Amanpour, and Global Affairs Anchor of AbC News. Amanpour has received numerous journalism awards and is known for being followed on Twitter by countless world leaders across the globe.

2. Kathryn Adie

Adie is an English journalist who became known for diving into the hottest disaster and war zones to deliver high-quality reporting. Getting her start at BBC as a station assistant, she eventually rose to television by joining the national news team in 1976.

She gained fame for being the first on the scene during the London Iranian Embassy siege of 1980, arriving just when the embassy was stormed by the Special Air Service. Adie went on to do many other close-to-the-action reports, some of which involved getting shot at and suffering injuries.

You can currently follow Adie on “From Our Own Correspondent,” a weekly BBC Radio 4 program she has served as presenter for since 1998.

3. Megyn Kelly

Kelly was born in Syracuse, New York, but spent most of her teenage years in Albany. During that time, she graduated high school and lost her father to a heart attack at the age of 15. After graduating from Albany Law School in 1995, she worked at a Chicago law firm office before being hired by ABC affiliate WJLA-TV as a general assignment reporter in the District of Columbia.

To the dismay of CNN president Jonathan Klein, Kelly left to join Fox News Channel in 2004. There, she provided legal segments while hosting “Kelly’s Court.” After several different positions, Kelly rose to fame while covering the 2012 United States presidential election.

Kelly is currently host of “The Kelly File,” a program that covers late-breaking stories in a live format. Her greatest accolade to date has been her inclusion in the 2014 Time list of the 100 most influential people.

4. Katie Couric

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Couric is an author and American journalist who has served as host on all three of the biggest television networks in the U.S.— ABC, CBS, and NBC. She graduated in 1979 from the University of Virginia and landed her first job that same year at the ABC News bureau in Washington, D.C and eventually joined CNN as an assignment editor.

From there, Couric served as an assignment editor for CNN and also reported for NBC-owned WRC-TV. Her work there earned her an Emmy and Associated Press award. In 1989, Couric joined NBC News as Deputy Pentagon Correspondent but soon became host of Today.

She would go on to work for CBC between 2006 and 2011 before returning back to ABC News. Couric is currently the Global News Anchor for Yahoo! and in 2004 was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. Her first book, “The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives,” became a New York Times best-seller.

5. Diane Sawyer

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Sawyer got her start in the early ‘70s as an assistant to Jerry Warren, the White House deputy press secretary. Her initial role was to write press releases but eventually was tasked with drafting public statements for Richard Nixon. Sawyer eventually served as staff assistant to the president and worked during his Watergate scandal and resignation, including helping Nixon write his memoirs.

In 1978, Sawyer joined CBS News as general-assignment reporter and in 1984 became the first female correspondent on “60 Minutes”. During this time the program remained s of the top most-watched in the country. Between 1999 and 2014, Sawyer served as anchor and co-anchor on prominent programs like Good Morning America, Primetime, and ABC World News.

Few female journalists have received as many awards and recognition as Sawyer. This included being inducted into the Television Hall of Fame, two Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, and being named one of the 30 most powerful women in America by Ladies’ Home Journal.

The inspiration doesn’t end there. It would truly be remiss if we at the New York Film Academy did not offer a special shout out to another woman taking the broadcast journalism industry by storm: our very own alumna….

Joelle Garguillo

Garguillo worked in business and finance until she decided to take a risk and chase her dream of broadcast journalism. After a little research, she decided on the New York Film Academy’s intensive, hands-on program. It’s a choice Garguillo says is “the best decision I ever made.” She went from NYFA’s four-week program to the eight-week, and then a semester, and then a year. Upon successfully completing her studies, Garguillo went on to secure a job with NBC that has led her to build a full career as a digital journalist at NBC News and a correspondent on “New York Live,” “The Today Show” and the “Weekend Today Show.”

Garguillo sat down with NYFA to discuss her experiences: “How NYFA prepared me for the real world was that I realized what it took to put together two minutes, whether it be for online, for TV, or for just class, takes a lot of work. And that’s what NYFA did for me. NYFA prepared me for the amount of work and love and care you will put into every single story.” Garguillo was able to turn her NYFA education, passion, and determination into a prolific career as a leading digital journalist.

Who are your broadcast journalism heroes? Let us know in the comments below!

How the 2016 Presidential Election is Changing Journalism

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Election season is in full swing here in the United States, which means journalists all over the country are doing the same thing they do every four years — delivering news to American citizens. Of course, the way people receive their news has been changing drastically over the last decade or two.

Only 15 years ago, no one had mobile phones, blogs, and social media sites. Now, our news has exploded through the digital, mobile, and social media landscape. 

Thanks to the 2016 presidential election and two “interesting” major candidates, we’re seeing that technology has a greater impact on broadcast journalism than ever before. Digital video is ubiquitous. Journalistic integrity is more critical — and more impactful — than ever. Thanks to a very unusual election cycle, it’s easy to see that aspiring broadcast journalists must navigate an industry of increasing complexity and importance, and have perhaps more responsibility than ever when it comes to communicating with the public. This is partially why the Broadcast Journalism programs at NYFA concentrate on equipping future journalists with the diverse cross-disciplinary skills, experience, and ethical awareness necessary for the reality of 21st century journalism; journalism is changing, and changing fast. And it matters, a lot.

Here are some of the biggest ways this upcoming election has changed the game when it comes to how people communicate — and consume — news.

Domination of Social Media

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Arguably the most significant new technology today, social media has taken a major part in the coverage of the 2016 election. From Facebook and Twitter to Tumblr and Reddit, there are plenty of online sources for people to get their news. But how much larger is social media’s influence today than, say, 10 years ago?

According to Pew Research Center, only eight percent of Americans used social networking sites in 2005. But by September of 2013, than figure changed to 73 percent. Now, we’re seeing a dramatic increase in older voters using social media to follow political figures and get their election news.

For broadcast journalists, social media offers the perfect platform for delivering news in many ways, like linking articles, posting messages, and the use of full motion and digital video. With Facebook and Twitter, journalists are also able to engage their audience of thousands like never before.

Now, the question of delivering all social media news fairly is more important than ever. What’s stopping Twitter and Facebook from implementing algorithms that favor a specific political party, subtly skewing election coverage? There’s already heavy speculation that Twitter curates trending hashtags, which means that what you see as the most popular topics may not actually be the most popular. And there’s no law regulating a social media platform’s power to do this. And, on the flip side, how do journalists navigate the ethical side of social media news? This is a new frontier, and a very important question for the future of media consumption.

Mobile Dethrones Other Platforms

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There was a time when the popular way to obtain news was via newspaper, television, and radio. But with the rise of mobile phones, these classic news sources have seen a decrease in use.

According to Pew Research Center’s 2016 report, daily newspaper circulation fell by seven percent, and newspaper ad revenue also fell by eight percent, between 2014 and 2015. In other words, fewer people are looking to print publications for their news — even when there is no election going on.

And what about radio? Although it isn’t as prominent as before, FM radio still makes up 54 percent of all listening. Another popular listening platform is the podcast, which allows you to download and consume audio whenever you desire. Newer podcasts even display images along with the audio, while vodcasts include video clips as well.

As for television, research shows that the number of late-night local news viewers has fallen as much as 22 percent since 2007. Local TV stations are still seeing an increase in revenue and audience growth in 2016 — which is common during election years — but it seems only older Americans still depend on television. Millennials tend to rely on alternative news sources.

The slow decline of these stalwart media platforms is all thanks to the advent of the smart phone. People don’t need to switch on a radio or television to receive news, much less flip through a black-and-white text. Instead, news and information from all over the world is already available in the palm of their hands — on a device most of us carry at all times.

In keeping with the times, broadcast journalists are turning more to apps and social media pages in order to do their job. And this certainly applies in the case of covering the 2016 Presidential Election.

Credibility in Question More Than Ever

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We’ve already talked about how big social media sites can get away with “curating” the news you see. Just last month, Facebook began changing their trending feature after an outcry from political conservatives.

The fact is, accusations of bias in broadcast journalism are nothing new. But thanks to new platforms and software, questions of authenticity are on the rise. There’s no denying the rise of Adobe Photoshop and other powerful graphic editing tools, and their questionable presence in journalism.

Of course, we know that the media manipulating photographs and other images is nothing new. But with so many people flipping through their social media sites and (sadly) believing everything they see, using altered images can prove more influential than ever before.

On top of facing increased scrutiny in an ever-broadening, increasingly cluttered landscape, broadcast journalists now face the challenge of providing honest, authentic news and images across a huge spectrum of platforms when everyone else might not be playing fair. Now more than ever, integrity and professionalism are key. This is why, as Bill Einreinhofer, NYFA’s Chair of Broadcast Journalism, observes: “NYFA students learn the ethical responsibilities that come with being journalist. It’s not just a ‘job.’” Indeed, broadcast journalism is a calling — and an essential social service, made more social than ever in this changing landscape of news consumption. And the world needs multimedia journalists capable of working across platforms to deliver truth to a growing digital audience.

 

Marketing Your Podcast: 7 Newbie Mistakes

Marketing Your Podcast: 7 Newbie Mistakes 

How do you attract new listeners to your podcast and increase downloads? There’s a myriad ways to do this and their effectiveness depends hugely on the type of podcast content you’re producing, but there are some surefire pitfalls that’ll likely see you never move out of single digit listener figures…

… today, we’re looking at some of the most common mistakes both amateur and pro podcasters frequently make.

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For the purpose of this post, we’re going to go ahead and assume that you’ve already begun posting episodes and have a dedicated podcast website to promote (if not, the most popular free podcast hosting sites to check out are Podbean, Libsyn, Podomatic and Buzzsprout.)

1. Not Putting Your Podcast On iTunes

Apple has long had the monopoly on podcasting — and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon. While there are plenty of other services to tap into that listeners favor over iTunes, you’re hamstringing yourself if you don’t play ball with the big daddy.

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The main reason podcasters don’t upload to iTunes is that they’re daunted by the complexity of it all. In reality, it’s surprisingly easy to get listed; most hosting services automate this process, but even if you’re doing it manually, Apple has released a step-by-step guide that doesn’t take long to follow.

Once you’re on iTunes, don’t forget to urge your listeners to leave reviews. Common consensus is that this is the main metric Apple consider when it comes to placing your podcast prominently on the store.

2. Not Putting Your Podcast Anywhere Else

Because iTunes is only the first step.

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Having your own podcast website as a one-stop shop for all the episodes is fantastic. But the problem with relying on your website alone is that unless you do extensive SEO work, your website won’t do much to put itself in front of the eyeballs of anyone who isn’t already looking for it.

Sites like YouTube and Soundcloud, on the other hand, do much more. Although an element of luck is involved, reproducing the podcast there at least creates the chance that the sites’ algorithms will auto-suggest your content to new people. If you’re looking at other sharing platforms, you’re missing a trick. Try to hit as many platforms as possible.

It might seem counterintuitive to diffuse the podcast across numerous places, but a listener is still a listener — and a decent portion of people will follow the description links back to the original source, i.e. your main website.

This point leads us neatly onto…

3. Depriving Your Listeners of Follow Options

We’ll be the first to admit that it can feel like a bit of a chore maintaining increasingly numerous social channels and making sure a podcast works for all devices, but in this day and age it’s extremely important to cater to all potential listeners.

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Just expecting people to revisit the website to see if there’s any new content won’t work. People want notifications.

A working RSS feed is essential, and you’ll hopefully already be on iTunes. But don’t neglect Android users, and bear in mind that some people still prefer to get their notifications via old-fashioned email.

A quick way of doing this? Simply use the following code courtesy of Blubrry.com – just remember to add your own podcast url:

Android:

<a href=”http://subscribeonandroid.com/YOURPODCASTURL/” title=”Subscribe on Android”><img src=”https://assets.blubrry.com/soa/BadgeLarge.png” alt=”Subscribe on Android” style=”border:0;” /></a>

Email:

<a href=”http://subscribebyemail.com/YOURPODCASTURL/feed/” title=”Subscribe by Email”><img src=”https://assets.blubrry.com/sbe/EmailBadgeLarge.png” alt=”Subscribe by Email” style=”border:0;” /></a>

Both of those will generate a little button that listeners can click on and get instant notifications via their method of choice. Add these to the website’s sidebar (along with your RSS and iTunes links) and they’ll have plenty of options to keep up-to-date with new episodes.

4. Making Your Podcast’s Concept Convoluted

Very few people want to hear someone monologuing for an hour without any structure (and one-person podcasts are rare, as we cover further down). So it’s especially important to have a strong hook if you want to snag a listener’s interest and stand out from the crowd.

This hook doesn’t need to be a “gimmick,” per se; it could be a niche topic that few other podcasters are addressing, or a novel concept for the format.

Whatever you do, make sure you can explain it in one sentence — much like a good book or film. “Two women review classic film noir movies” is strong; “two women watch old movies while drinking beer and talking about the news that happened last week” isn’t.

5. Not Investing in Your Podcast’s Audio Quality

Given that podcasting is an audio-only medium, it’s surprising how many podcasts currently active feature extremely low-quality audio. Needless to say, very few (read: none) of them ever make it into charting positions.

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Don’t be one of them. A good mic is obviously important, but don’t skimp on quality headphones either. If you’re listening back to the podcast on your laptop or phone speakers while editing the episode, you’ll never get a good handle on the levels without great headphones.

To go above and beyond in the quest for audio quality, you may want to also invest in an above-standard hosting package that offers more than the standard free packages available through most services. You’d get more control, a dedicated .com address, and greater analytics insight. But if your production value isn’t up to scratch to begin with, a fancy hosting package would be putting the cart before the horse.

6. Failing to Capitalize on Collaborations

There’s no quicker way of growing a new podcast from scratch than to collaborate with other podcasters. Once you’ve got a few stellar episodes under your belt, many low-level podcasters will be delighted at being invited onto your show, and hopefully the offer will be reciprocated.

As you grow, you’ll be able to set your sights higher and hook up with podcasters that have bigger listener-ships. Just don’t spam, for heaven’s sake. Aim to form meaningful connections with podcasters operating within the same niche. And you’ll probably want to invite guests to your podcast at least once every episode to add a little spice and keep your content engaging.

7. Dropping off Schedule

Not posting episodes of what is supposed to be a weekly podcast for weeks on end is anathema to growing your audience, and it’s hard to regain momentum again after a hiatus.

Sounds obvious, but it comes as a result of something that isn’t obvious: podcasting is time-intensive.

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Many newbies go in thinking it’s as simple as turning on a mic, hitting record and uploading the results online. The truth is that coordinating recording windows with guests or co-hosts, detailed editing, writing show notes, and maintaining the infrastructure of the podcast takes time.

So don’t promise too much going in. You can always ramp up the frequency of episodes further down the line, but it’s detrimental to drop back from what your listeners expect.

But don’t be disheartened. There’s never been a better time to get into podcasting, and when it goes well it’s hugely rewarding.

Best of luck, and don’t forget to let us know what you’re working on in the comments below!

Creative Jobs Ideal For Broadcast Journalists: Looking Beyond The Nightly News

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In the past, we’ve discussed some of the different job roles at TV stations, but not every graduate with a broadcast journalism degree works in television or radio permanently. Studying broadcast journalism provides graduates with a wide variety of skills that can be useful in other areas of the news business, or different fields entirely.

Why Some Broadcast Journalists Change Careers

The average Millennial changes jobs every 4.4 years, according to this Forbes article from a few years ago. That’s an average for all workers; individuals in television news often change jobs every two or three years, especially if they’re in on-air positions where contracts are typically renegotiated that often. While some people may work at one station for twenty years or more, it’s much more common to change stations and job titles at least a few times.

Some broadcast journalists acquire new job titles as they work their way up to a career goal—say, evening news anchor in a “Top 100” station. However, some broadcast journalists leave the broadcasting business entirely, moving to print journalism or related fields like PR, marketing, or photography.

Reasons to Explore Other Options

There are a lot of reasons people look for creative jobs in a different field. Sometimes journalists enjoy the job, but after a while they realize they’d prefer a career with a nine-to-five schedule. In television news, dayside schedules usually start around two or three in the morning; those working evening shifts usually start work some time in the afternoon, and stay until well after the ten or eleven o’clock news. Larger stations may have a mid-day shift that starts in the morning and ends after the six o’clock news—but those shifts are highly coveted and someone still has to work the other time slots.

Some journalists change careers for financial reasons. Most people start their broadcast careers in smaller markets where pay is generally low, even for on-air positions. There have been situations where a reporter and three photographers were all living together because none of them could afford his own apartment—and there were frequent arguments in the newsroom about who was late with his share of the rent.

Working your way up to a bigger market is a way to improve your pay grade, but if you’ve chosen to stay in a city to be close to a significant other, family members, or friends, you might find that a career in television news or radio may not help you to reach your financial goals in a timely manner—if ever.

Sometimes leaving broadcasting can be an involuntary situation, especially if you work on-air. Stations often decide not to renegotiate contracts for reasons anchors and reporters have little or no control over—they may want someone younger, someone who appeals to a different demographic, or someone who does better in ratings. Often station managers think they can improve ratings by replacing an anchor with “a new face.” A non-compete clause in your contract may keep you from doing on-air work in your DMA for a certain period of time after the contract ends—usually two or three years. Again, you might find work in another market, but if you don’t want to move, you’ll have to consider another career choice.

Different Career Paths In Journalism and Other Fields

Regardless of your reasons for leaving a broadcasting job, a broadcast journalism certificate or diploma provides a versatile set of skills that will serve you well in many fields.

Public Relations and Marketing

Many public relations firms like to hire former journalists. Someone who has evaluated what is and isn’t newsworthy is in the perfect position to shape publicity efforts. You know what caused you to ignore a press release, and you also know what made you pursue a story, or pitch it to your supervisor. These skills could extend into a marketing or advertising career, where experience with a TV station’s production of local ads is also helpful.

Sales

The connection may not seem obvious at first, but journalists also build skills that boost sales careers. In a broadcasting job, you spend a lot of time trying to talk people into things—granting interviews, telling you the truth, and giving you a useful tip. Building rapport with interview subjects leads to better, more emotionally honest soundbites; in a sales jobs, it leads to a lasting relationship with customers, which ultimately leads to more sales.

Corporate

Many large corporations have their own in-house “news” operations. In order to keep employees at far-flung locations across the country or around the world up-to-date, they produce their own “news programs.” These can be half-hour programs suitable of viewing on desktop computers, or short stand-alone stories that can be watched on mobile devices. The era of the “company newsletter” is long past, replaced by corporate video. Large companies also produce Video News Releases (VNRs), which supplement or replace convention press releases. Sometimes they consist entirely of raw footage stations can then edit as they choose, while others include a fully produced package that a station need only insert a voiceover based on an accompanying script. As more and more people use full-motion video as their primary source of information, video producers will continue to play a key role corporate communications.

Photography and Documentary Films

People who have worked behind the camera sometimes find rewarding careers using their skills in other photography or videography jobs. You might work in still photography, possibly for print or online news sources. If you like the idea of working for yourself, you could do some freelance work, taking video of weddings and other personal events people want professionally recorded. If you prefer a steady paycheck, you might work for a business that provides these services.

Print Journalism, Blogs, Vlogs, and Websites

Some broadcasters may move to print or online news sources. You might enjoy the opportunity to write longer, more in-depth stories—especially for websites, where there is neither a time limit like you would have in broadcast, nor a page space limit like you would find at a newspaper. Although your editor will still give you word count limits to keep you focused on the most interesting parts of the story, you will have the opportunity to provide more detail, or different perspectives. While newspapers and magazines do have page-space limits, they still pride themselves on providing a more in-depth look at news than television or radio.

You can also choose to start your own blog or vlog (video blog) about news—or a particular type of news, like entertainment or sports. Some former journalists enjoy using their writing skills to tell stories in their own way, while others like being able to editorialize, instead of trying to keep their opinions out of their news coverage. Your skills in shooting and editing will also come in handy if you want to do a vlog or post video.

Successful blogs and vlogs are sometimes financially rewarding—however, it usually takes time to build a following, and not every video goes viral. You should plan to have a day job while building your blog into a viable source of income.

Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

How To Produce Sweeps Pieces Or Stories In Series Form

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National elections make for ideal story series during sweeps.

In broadcast journalism, most stories are reported as they happen, and covering the new developments of a story for several days or even weeks doesn’t necessarily mean you’re producing a series on the topic. Generally, reporters and producers don’t think in terms of “I want to do a series of stories about X or Y.” Instead, they think in terms of, “I’d like to do a story about X and then I’m going to follow up to see if there are any new developments in the story about Y.”

However, there is a place for the production of a series in broadcast journalism. There are several situations in which you might want to do a series:

Sweeps weeks, when TV station ratings are measured—Nielsen sweeps months typically occur for the better part of November, February, May, and July, but as the measurement period increasingly straddle months, weeks have become a more common measurement period. And for major markets, where the numbers come in the next morning, every week is essentially sweeps week. To attract viewers during a ratings measurement period, broadcasters frequently run a series about a topic of local interest, looking at different angles of the story for each installment. Typical marketing messages will say something like: “How safe is the drinking water at area schools? If you are a parent, you’ll want to see this.” In small and medium markets, they still do the sweeps drill about four times a year.
• Big stories that can’t be covered all at once. These may include political topics, controversial local legislation, large disasters that continue for days after the main event (say, flooding and the resulting damage to property), or a local scandal or crime wave in which new information arises frequently.
• Small stations undergoing slow news periods may do a series to provide a more in-depth look at the few news topics that are available. This should not be done just as a way to fill time during a show—you should use the opportunity to provide value to your viewers, in the form of additional information or a new perspective on the same story.

How to Get Started

Approaching a series is not all that different than approaching your story or stories of the day. However, you will probably have a little more time to examine different angles if you’re working on a series. Ideally, that’s something you should do for every story, but sometimes, when you’re running around covering multiple topics, you may only have time to report the facts and move on to your next assignment.

Many broadcasters will ask each reporter to pitch an idea for a series to run during the upcoming sweeps month. There are a few ways to approach this. You can look back at recurring topics or issues you’ve reported on in the last few weeks or months and consider whether there are unexplored angles or simply opportunities to provide a more in-depth look at a story.

A profile on a prominent community member or close look at a local issue or problem is another option. You can also look at the many different stories you’ve covered and think about whether there might be a connection between some of them. Did you cover several different car accidents at the same intersection? Have you covered a lot of theft stories at a particular chain of local stores?

Another way to develop material for a special series is through the contacts and sources you build up over time. A good reporter always nurtures sources. Checking back occasionally with individuals you have interviewed in the past can lead to new, perhaps even bigger stories.

Alternatively, you can spend some time on your station’s social media feeds and try to get an idea of what viewers find interesting. Granted, some viewers’ suggestions may not be right for a series, and others may not be based in fact. However, if you keep seeing different people inquiring about a certain topic, or suggesting it should be covered in more detail, that might be worth considering.

Here’s an example: Several years ago, a local TV station covered a tragic story about a road worker who was killed by an intoxicated driver. She had no previous record, and claimed to have mixed up her daytime and nighttime medications on the day of the collision. Although she pled guilty to negligent homicide as part of a plea deal, she only served about ninety days, plus twelve months probation. A few years later, she was arrested on a DWI charge, bonded out of jail, and was subsequently arrested several more times for DWI and a variety of other charges. When local media covered each arrest, her previous conviction for negligent homicide was frequently mentioned.

As you might imagine, many viewers were outraged by the situation. After every story about a subsequent arrest was posted to local stations’ social media feeds, a deluge of comments from audience members followed. Many asked how an individual with such a history kept getting out of jail. Some suggested she was bribing a judge. Others demanded DWI laws should be toughened.

During a sweeps month, one local station ran a series about state and local DWI laws, as well as sentencing statistics, in an attempt to answer some of these viewer questions. The first installment described the arrest, conviction, and sentencing history of the habitual drunk driver. The reporter explained the leeway judges have in sentencing after a conviction of negligent homicide, and noted reasons judges typically give light sentences—first-time offenders, mitigating circumstances, etc.

The second installment looked at rates of DWI/DUI arrests and convictions, statistics on how many people actually served time for such offenses, and the frequency of repeat offenses for the same individual. A third installment included interviews with local legislators about proposed changes to local DWI laws that, in their opinion, would make the area safer from repeat offenders.

Tips for Covering a Series or Sweeps Piece

• Choose a different angle for each installment.
• Either provide new information or a new perspective in each installment.
• You are usually given more time for a series or sweeps piece. Use it to give the audience a more in-depth picture of the issue or story.
• If you’re doing a profile of a person, try to include details that have an emotional impact, in addition to the facts of the story. Show us the local scholarship recipient studying while riding the bus to his second job. Show us the pile of cold cases the police detective keeps on her desk and looks at once a week, even when she knows there are no new leads. Show us the mayoral candidate emptying the trashcans at his campaign headquarters like a regular person. Things like this often tell us more about a subject’s personality than the rehearsed talking points or nervous rambling you might hear in an interview.

Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

How To Find And Get Journalism Internships

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Internships are helpful for students who want a hands-on learning experience in a real TV or radio station. Interning with a broadcaster can help you narrow down what kind of job you’d like to do in the field. It’s also an asset to your resume when you’re ready to apply for jobs after graduation.

How Do I Find an Internship?

First of all, start looking sooner rather than later. If you’re hoping for a summer internship, it’s best to start looking early in the spring semester, or even the previous fall. Many summer internships have application deadlines in February or March. Please note that the days of work-for-free interns are gone. Due to a recent lawsuit and subsequent court decisions, interns must either be paid or receive academic credit. Some schools allow students to get class credit for doing an internship during a semester, usually with an approved local company, but you’ll also need to apply for those months in advance.

Several websites dedicated to helping students find internships in their field allow you to search for journalism openings. Many schools maintain a list of resources for students seeking internships. You can also check with local broadcasters in your area—some may list these positions on their “job opportunities” page.

Time to Write or Revise Your Resume and Cover Letter

The application process often varies from one broadcaster to another, so it’s important to read the requirements carefully and make sure you’ve met all of them before clicking the “submit” icon. Some may want a video audition explaining why you’d make a great intern, while others may ask for samples of packages you’ve produced in class. Regardless of other requirements, most companies want a resume and cover letter.

If you haven’t written a resume yet, now is a good time to start—it’s definitely better than waiting until you graduate and start applying for jobs. If you have written a resume, this is a good time to update it.

In general, a resume should have your name and contact info at the top, then subheadings for education, work experience, and possibly volunteer work or student associations.

If a student is responding to a posting, it’s always advisable to integrate some of the language from the posting into the cover letter. They have provided a checklist of what they are looking for, so you give them their own words back. This is especially helpful in an era when, at large companies, software often scans incoming job applications and selects only some of them to be forwarded on to a real person.

Education

Under “Education,” you should list your school, your major, where you are in your program (“Completing one-year program in May of 2016,” for example), and your GPA, if it’s high enough to be beneficial. If your GPA is not where you’d like it to be, you may consider leaving it off. On one hand, employers may assume your GPA isn’t listed because it was a low number—on the other hand, if you actually list your 1.8 GPA, they’ll know for sure. (Obviously, the best option is to make every effort to get good grades.)

Work History

You should list any work experience you have, even if it’s not related to broadcast journalism. The fact that you worked at Joe’s Hamburger Barn the last three summers suggests you were a reliable and hard-working employee—otherwise, Joe probably would have hired someone else instead of hiring you back for the next summer.

Under each job, you should add a list of bullet points describing what you did—in particular, goals you met or exceeded, or innovative ways you improved your employer’s business. Be as specific as possible. “Earned a five-star average on customer comment cards” sounds better than, “Waited on customers.”

If you don’t have any work history, you can list volunteer work or student association activities—especially if they’re related to broadcast journalism. Definitely list any work you did for the campus TV or radio station, even if it was only for a brief period of time. Again, be specific about your accomplishments. Examples of good bullet points:

  • Interviewed news witnesses, asking follow-up questions as appropriate
  • Wrote package scripts answering the questions of who, what, when, why, where, and how
  • Made beat calls to local police and fire agencies and followed up on all leads
  • Engaged with students on social media to learn the types of news stories that most interested them, then shifted our editorial focus to those topics, resulting in a 5% viewership increase over last semester

Cover Letters

A cover letter should do three things: It should tell the reader who you are, why you want the internship, and what you can do for the company. Although you may repeat some sentences or paragraphs about your education, experience, and goals, you should not send the exact same letter to every company.

First, address your letter to the correct individual. Usually applications list a contact person. If not, search the organization’s website—you may find an “internship coordinator” or “hiring manger” listed in the directory. If that doesn’t work, simply call the company and ask for the name of the person in charge of the internship program.

You should use the first paragraph of your letter to briefly introduce yourself and explain why you want to work for this particular broadcaster. Although you can touch on your desire to learn more about journalism, you should focus on why you want to learn from this organization. To show that you’ve thoroughly researched the company, give concrete examples of what you like about it. Here’s an example:

“As a one-year student studying Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy, I’ve always wanted to work at a TV station with excellent live coverage of the latest local news. When I come home from school and watch WXYZ News, I’m always impressed by how professional your reporters are, and how quickly and accurately they report news and show how it affects the average person. Your three-part special on the city’s homeless population really helped me see the subject from a new perspective. I would love to learn from the team that was voted “Best Newscast in Cleveland” three years in a row, and when I saw that you had a summer internship program, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to do just that.”

The next paragraph should tell more about your education and work history, especially any broadcast journalism-related experience. Your final paragraph should mention that you’ve attached your resume (and any other requested materials). Close by thanking the recipients for their time and note that you look forward to hearing from them.

Apply Widely

Even if you’re a great candidate, you will be vying with hundreds of other applicants for each internship. For that reason, you should apply for as many as you can to improve your chances of landing one.

There’s no reason to stick with your city, either. You can apply for internships all over the country. Keep in mind, however, that some internships are unpaid. Some larger companies may provide housing for a pool of interns, but most will expect you to pay your own expenses. Even a paid internship might not pay enough for all your expenses while living in an unfamiliar city. If traveling and renting an apartment out of town isn’t financially feasible, you might want to focus on an internship closer to home—even if it doesn’t pay at all. Or, you could look for one in a city where you could stay with a friend or relative.

Unpaid Vs. Paid

Obviously, most students would rather take a paid internship—which is probably why there’s even more competition for these spots. There’s nothing wrong with trying to land one, but in case that doesn’t work out, you can at least get academic credit if your school allows it.

And while you might not make any money, you will learn about the different job roles in a TV or radio station. If you’re unsure which career path you want to follow, working at a TV or radio station might help you figure out which position most interests you. Also, you get to network and make contacts, which can help when you graduate and start looking for a job in broadcast journalism.

Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

How To Get The Story First And Not Get Scooped

Daily News Extra!

If you spend time on social media, you might have seen the story of nine-year-old reporter Hilde Kate Lysiak, who broke the story of a murder in her small town of Selinsgove, Pennsylvania—beating adult journalists to the scene. Not long after, critics took to social media to suggest someone her age would be better off “having tea parties” or “playing with dolls” than covering serious crimes like a murder. Lysiak later read the list of complaints in a YouTube video, and went on to say, “If you want me to stop covering news, then you get off your computers and do something about the news. There, is that cute enough for you?”

Lysiak later told the Washington Post she received a tip from a reliable source, confirmed it, and went to the crime scene. She then posted the story on her digital and print newspaper, Orange Street News, hours before The Daily Item, a local community paper newspaper that declined to comment for the Post article. Her father, author and former New York Daily news reporter Matthew Lysiak, said there were no other reporters at the scene of the crime when she arrived.

Although the Post story only mentioned the local newspaper, Selinsgrove appears to be part of the Harrisburg DMA, which is 44 on the Nielsen ranking list. Stations that serve small towns in addition to larger ones don’t always have the resources to cover crimes in the smaller, outlying areas. In these cases, an assignments editor may choose to report the story based on the information in a police report rather than sending a crew to the scene.

Getting Scooped Happens

Every journalist wants to be the first to report on a big story, and many TV stations place a high value on bragging that they were “first on the scene” or “first to bring you the news of such-and-such event.” While no reporter or media organization can be first to the scene of every story, you should aim to get the scoop more than you get scooped.

There are a lot of reasons reporters and producers lose the opportunity to break a story. Sometimes it simply isn’t possible—in smaller markets, stations may only have one or two reporter/photographer teams on duty, especially during slow news times, like overnight. If news happens and all your available teams are on the other side of town covering other stories, but your competitor happens to have a crew nearby, you may be out of luck. Stations in larger markets have the opposite problem—they have more reporters and photographers, but they also have more news.

Avoidable Causes of Losing a Big Reveal

While some missed opportunities aren’t avoidable, many are. Sometimes, especially in smaller markets, the person assigned to monitor the news room’s police scanner simply misses something. Maybe he or she steps out of the room at the wrong moment. Maybe something sounds less newsworthy than it actually turns out to be. Plus paying attention to the scanner isn’t the only way to gather news—some reporters have missed out on major leads because they ignored a viewer tip that sounded like a crank call, but wasn’t.

The Police Scanner Is Your Friend

If it’s your job to monitor the police scanner, pay attention and remember just hearing the radio isn’t enough. It’s easy to get focused on a task, like stacking the next show, and hear something without really processing it—especially if you’re used to the sound of routine conversations between the police dispatcher and patrol officers. That’s why it’s helpful to have other people in the newsroom listening at the same time—a coworker might hear something that you’ve missed because you were concentrating on writing an intro to a package, for example. If you happen to have interns, teaching them what to listen for on a scanner can be a good learning experience for them, and take some pressure off you.

But sometimes you may be alone in the newsroom if you work in a smaller station—or, your coworkers might all be as distracted as you. It’s a good idea to train yourself to listen for specific things that are out of the ordinary—an increase in chatter on the radio, for example, over the normal level, might signify something is happening beyond a traffic ticket. You should also familiarize yourself with the codes dispatchers and officers use. While there are far too many to memorize all of them, you should make note of the ones that indicate the most newsworthy events, like a homicide, bomb threat, car accident, etc. After you’ve been listening to the scanner for a while, you should have yourself trained to take notice whenever you hear one. Keeping a comprehensive list of codes handy is also helpful, in case you hear a less-common one you can’t place.

…But Not Your Only Friend

While the police scanner is a great tool for any news organization, it’s not the only one. Most stations also maintain a “tip line” for viewers to call in when they witness news, a link to report news on the station’s website, or both. As you might guess, this setup can attract crank calls, and you should always take anything you get from these sources with a grain of salt until you confirm—but you should try to confirm the information, no matter how kooky the person delivering it might seem.

If you receive a phone call or email about potential news, ask appropriate follow-up questions. Where is this news event happening? Have the appropriate authorities been contacted, if necessary? Does the caller have any video or pictures of the news event? Sometimes a quick call to your press contacts at the local police or fire departments can confirm or refute a story quickly. If the claim doesn’t involve a call to authorities, you may be able to find the answer by searching on the internet.

Don’t Forget Social Media

Not every viewer with a great tip is going to call a tip line or use the appropriate link on your station’s website. Sometimes audience members may just post something on your Facebook page or Tweet a tip to your official Twitter account. Even if you’re busy, it’s a good idea to frequently check your social media accounts, if only briefly. You may just get a big tip that turns out to be legitimate. On the other hand, if a viewer is mistaken, confused, or just getting a good laugh out of posting lies on the station’s social media feeds, you want to know so you can delete the posts—or respond with a correct version of the story.

How You Look at a Story Is Important, Too

Sometimes you might cover a story, but miss a bigger related piece of news. This is easy to do when you’re focused on reporting the facts, especially if you’re working under a tight deadline. Once you’ve written your script, however, it can help to think about the story and all its angles. Have you missed something? Could this news affect any particular public figure, or maybe a group of people in the community?

If you have time, it’s always helpful to do an internet search on people involved in crimes or accidents, whether you consider the story newsworthy or not. Even if the event seems cut-and-dried, you never know what might turn up. It could be the guy who just got arrested on a drunk-and-disorderly charge is running for City Council. While drunk-and-disorderly stories usually aren’t that newsworthy—except on a really slow news day—it’s always interesting to viewers if a local politician is arrested, even on a misdemeanor charge. Or you might find out a company that just received a lucrative city contract is run by someone related to the mayor or a City Council member. Considering all the angles might open up new opportunities to report on a big story.

Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

How To Make A Great Audition Video

Making an audition video

Most broadcast journalism students who want to pursue an on-air career make an audition video in their senior year, prior to applying for jobs in the industry. (These are sometimes called audition or demo reels, although those technologies have been replaced by DVDs, uploading your video as part of an online submission process, or providing a link to your work.) You’ll have more footage to work with after you have produced several projects. Still, it’s never a bad idea to start thinking about the kind of footage you want to use. You might want to record some special material—in particular, stand-ups—for use on your audition reel.

Keep it Short

Most audition videos should be no more than four or five minutes, although two or three minutes is acceptable and sometimes preferable. Station managers, news directors, and other people who make hiring decisions at TV stations are busy people with many other job functions. They also receive, on average, dozens or even hundreds of audition videos every month (this varies a bit depending on the size of the station). In the spring, when most journalism students graduate, that number increases. The bigger the station, the more videos they have to sift through.

What does that mean for you? It means some hiring managers may not have time to watch every audition video. They may choose some to watch based on the attached resumes, so it’s important to make sure yours is in good shape. It’s a good idea to ask a professor, if he or she has time, to look over your resume and make suggestions. Make sure to include any work you did for the school’s TV or radio station, even if it was unpaid or required for a class. Also include any internships, and part-time or summer jobs at local broadcasters.

Assuming the person in charge of hiring decides to watch your video, he or she probably won’t view the whole thing. Again, people in those positions are busy and overwhelmed with audition videos. Even if they like you, they’ll probably just watch the first 30 or 60 seconds, or they may fast-forward to the next clip to see if there’s anything different on the video.

What Does That Mean for Me?

That means it’s important to grab your viewer’s attention right away. Some professors recommend putting a slate (also known as a graphic) at the beginning and end with your name and contact info. This doesn’t have to stay up for more than a few seconds at the beginning—if interested, a hiring manager can always rewind and freeze the frame.

The first piece of video that rolls should be your best work. In three minutes, you could put six thirty-second packages on your tape, or four thirty-second packages and two sixty-second stories, or various other combinations. You can also include a montage of stand-ups and live shots. If you think some of your packages are slightly better, you should start and end with the best ones.

How Do I Decide?

This can be a tough one, especially if you have regularly appeared on a school TV station, and make a point to save a copy of all your videos. There may be some you can rule out right away—ones where you stumbled on a sentence, or experience technical difficulties, for example. (Of course those things happen in television and provide good learning opportunities, but they shouldn’t be on your audition video.)

You should also make sure you were professionally dressed in any video you’re considering. Most students have at least a few clips of themselves in jeans and a t-shirt, because it’s easy to forget you’re going to shoot a story or anchor the news at your school TV station later. You may also have outdoor videos where the wind has messed up your hair, tugged your tie crooked, etc. Those shouldn’t be on your audition reel either.

Audition video footage should show you in the type of clothing you’d wear to a job interview—a suit jacket or blazer, dress shirt or blouse, and matching pants or skirt. Not all TV stations require men to wear ties on-air today, but it won’t hurt to wear one. You might be able to get away with wearing flip-flops if your feet don’t show in the video, but remember you’ll be expected to wear real shoes to work when you get a job. In general, it’s a good idea to avoid t-shirts, tank tops, jeans, shorts, sequins, and anything you would wear to the beach or a nightclub.

Keep in mind that most TV stations won’t hire someone with purple hair, a nose ring, or a lot of highly visible tattoos for an on-air position. Of course you have the right to express yourself, and you could argue that a reporter with unicorn hair is just as skilled a journalist as a reporter with a more traditional hairdo. You’d probably be right—in fact, you might even be able to find a person with green hair and a nose-to-ear chain who can out-investigate someone who looks like a clone of David Muir.

But, whether you like it or not, TV hiring managers will pass up anyone who doesn’t fit with the image they want to project for their stations. You could argue that they should care more about journalistic skill than conforming to an image, but the fact is most broadcasters care about both when making hiring decisions.

Buying professional-looking clothes can be expensive, and not everyone can afford it after paying for tuition, books, etc. Thrift stores sometimes have gently-used career clothes at a low cost. You might also be able to borrow a suit jacket from a friend before going to shoot something for your campus TV station.

Variety is a Good Thing

If possible, you should show clips of yourself both anchoring and reporting. Also try to use video in different locations—maybe one outdoor shot, one at the news desk, another at an indoor news scene. Try to make sure you’re not wearing the same thing in every clip you use—that tells the hiring manager you shot a bunch of stuff in one day to make your audition reel, and you don’t have much experience.

A variety of news topics is also a good thing. You should have some serious stories—about the economy, politics, or crime, for example—interspersed with more lighthearted, or even humorous, topics—sporting events, local fairs/carnivals, concerts, local person who did something unusual or set a record, stories about animals, etc. This shows that you’re versatile, and a less serious story is an opportunity to prove you’re able to try new things and poke fun at yourself—say, letting a monkey climb on your head at the local zoo. Being a good sport is an important part of being a journalist.

Audition Videos Aren’t Just For On-Air Positions

If you seek a job as a producer, newscast director, photographer, or one of many other off-air positions, you should have video of newscasts you produced, directed, etc. You will need to explain in your cover letter what you contributed to the video you’re submitting. For example: “I’ve attached a sample of three packages I shot, then edited per the reporter’s instructions.” By being precise and to-the-point, you’ll grab the attention of a potential employer while showing off your diverse strengths.

Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

How To Read The News Like A Professional News Anchor

Reading the news off a teleprompter may sound easy, but it’s actually more complicated than it seems. Anchors and reporters have to develop a reading style that seems natural, but isn’t too fast, too slow, too nuanced, too accented, too high-pitched, too quiet, or any other extreme. Reading news like a professional news anchor requires skill, practice, and training.

Practice Makes Perfect

Photo by New York Film Academy.

The best way to start is to practice reading news stories that you’ve written for class. If your school has a student TV station, doing some on-air work there is also helpful, as you’ll probably be able to get a recording of it afterward. You can also record yourself with various apps on your phone.

It’s hard to be objective about your own reading, so it’s a good idea to ask others their honest opinions. Does your reading sound natural? Is it hard to understand for any reason? Would your listeners want to hear you read more?

Things to Work On

Speed is one important consideration when reading the news. If you read too slowly, viewers may get bored and impatient and consider changing the channel. If you read too fast, viewers may have a hard time understanding you. Typically, news anchors read between 150 and 175 words per minute, and some stations may time new reporters or anchors to get a baseline for that individual’s usual reading speed.

If you find you’re talking too fast, it may be helpful to concentrate on enunciating clearly — sometimes this helps people slow down. Of course, people often talk faster when they’re anxious, and your first time reading a story on-air can be nerve-wracking, so sometimes the problem resolves itself after you’ve simply spent more time doing the job.

Talking too slowly is less common for students learning to read the news, but if this is a problem you can ask the teleprompter operator at your campus station to intentionally go a little faster than you. (Practice this for a while when you’re not actually on-air!) If you’re practicing by yourself, you can try reading from a computer or tablet screen and scroll through the words a little faster.

Sounding Natural and Conversational

Photo by New York Film Academy.

Another common problem students face when learning to read the news is learning to sound as if they’re not reading — something that is much harder than it sounds!

Most of us sound very different when we read something aloud than when we’re having a conversation with friends. It’s also very easy to sound robotic when you’ve been reading for a long time and your attention has started to wander, which can easily happen to an anchor, particularly during a slow news day or a repetitive morning show.

You can practice by reading a news story and pretending that you’re telling it to a friend. You don’t want to ad-lib or change the wording (which may be more formal than the way you normally speak), but you should otherwise talk conversationally. This can be difficult, especially if you’re also trying to speak more slowly or enunciate more clearly, but sounding natural is an important aspect of reading the news. After all, if viewers wanted to hear the news in a monotone, they could just ask Siri to read the day’s headlines.

Accents and Dialects

There are many different “accents” and regionalisms associated with American English. Depending on where you grew up, others may perceive an accent. If you learned English as a second language, you may have an accent associated with your first language.

While there is no single correct accent for American English, most broadcasters prefer reporters speak with a General American accent (most common in the mid-west and on the west coast)—or as close to it as you can reasonably get. Some people already do this, but for those with a strong accent, becoming more linguistically neutral can be difficult.

If you find you have a strong accent, you can listen to reporters or anchors who read the national news—those reading to the entire country have to be the most linguistically neutral—and practice speaking like them. Sometimes it’s helpful to listen to one sentence, pause the recording, and repeat it a few times yourself, then listen to it again. It may not be possible to get rid of your accent entirely, but if you can move it closer to General American, you will probably improve your prospects of finding an on-air job.

If you have difficulty shaking a strong accent, you might consider working in an area where that accent is common. Although General American is preferred in most places, the tendency to speak with a southern drawl likely won’t be as much of a problem in the south as it might be in other parts of the country, for example.

Of course, it should be noted that the United States has a vibrant foreign language news media. The most obvious is Spanish language, but there are Chinese, Korean and Japanese news operations as well. Univision and Telemundo (owned by NBC) are national networks, with local affiliated stations. The other languages tend to be represented by small, generally local outlets.

Adjusting Tone for Content

In general, when you read you should sound moderately upbeat, but not overly chipper. However, you’ll need to adjust your tone when reading somber stories, like those involving deaths or serious injuries. Sometimes slowing down and speaking more quietly can help you convey the seriousness of a sad situation.

This should extend to the whole story, including the reporter’s “standard out” and anchor tags. Recently there was a news story about the death of a twelve-year-old boy in a house fire. The reporter sounded appropriately somber while reading the details of the story. However, when she read her “standard out” (usually something like “Reporting live, Jane Doe for XYZ News”), she suddenly sounded very upbeat and chipper. My guess is that she practiced her standard out this way, and it probably worked fine for most news topics. Unfortunately, in this case it was a sharp contrast to the rest of the story and seemed both jarring and awkward.

For this reason, it’s also helpful if producers can plan content to avoid going directly from an extremely sad story to a happy one. There is no good way to transition from reading about a tragedy to “So, I hear we had an exciting day in the world of sports! Tell us more about that, Bob!” If you can wedge a more neutral story or a commercial break between sad stories and happy ones, you’ll be doing both the anchor and the viewers a big favor.

Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

Dealing With Viewer Criticism In The Social Media Age

fingers pointing at person crying

Working in broadcast journalism can be an engaging and exciting job, but every job has its drawbacks. In the news business, there’s always a steady stream of criticism from viewers, from hairdos to the stories the station covers. The popularity of social media has made it even easier for the audience to express its displeasure to the news organization—and the world at large.

If you’re on-air, you’ll likely receive everything from marriage proposals to criticism of your clothes to complaints about your interviewing style. Even if you’re not on-air, the critics won’t completely forget about you. Amateur photographers love to complain about “lousy video quality,” even if they have no idea of the circumstances or difficulties involved in capturing a particular shot. Everyone loves to tell the news director or assignments editor what stories to cover—or not. (How dare you fail to send a camera crew to cover a viewer’s cat’s wedding!)

Fifteen or twenty years ago, viewer complaints (valid or not), would have been delivered by phone, by snail mail, or maybe by email. But today, they show up on a station’s social media pages where hundreds or thousands of other followers can see them. Have a page for yourself, as a news anchor or reporter? People will post complaints there, too.

How Do I Make It Stop?

You can certainly delete any comments that are obscene, profane, threatening, hate speech, etc. If you had time, you could just go ahead and delete all negative comments, but that would be a bad move from a PR standpoint. Viewers would then take to their personal page to tell their friends that your TV station’s management doesn’t care what their viewers think, can’t take a healthy debate, and deletes critical comments in an effort to censor free speech. Even people who don’t see those posts might notice and find it odd if there were never any negative comments on a broadcaster’s page.

Some outlets are even eliminating Comments sections, seeing that they can get hijacked and turned into forums for racist and sexist rants. Large stations and networks actively curate their online and digital platforms. Elsewhere, it can sometimes become an embarrassing free-for-all.

Handling Social Media Comments in a Professional Manner

There is no requirement that you respond to every comment on the station’s page, your page, or on a link to a story you covered. You can choose to ignore some of the negativity, and that’s definitely a better idea than shooting back an angry reply. However, if you have a large number of similar negative comments, someone at the station should address these.

Most broadcasters have a position to handle the station’s social media presence. This person will usually be on top of comments about each story, and about the station in general. Usually reporters and anchors are not expected to spend all day defending their stories on the station’s page.

However, most on-air personalities are expected to have their own social media presence as part of the station or network’s social media strategy. Some stations will create profiles for anchors and reporters; smaller stations sometimes expect the talent to handle that themselves. In either case, on-air personalities are expected to check in at least a couple times a day, and make some effort to respond to legitimate questions and concerns. (In larger stations with more viewers and comments, the station may assign someone to help the anchor or reporter.)

How Do I Respond? What Should I Ignore?

First, remember that you represent your employer on social media—even on your personal accounts that are separate from your professional profiles. If someone tracks down your personal profile despite your best efforts to hide it, you still have to respond in a professional way. Usually this means a polite reply directing the person back to your professional profile.

You can manage all of your professional accounts with a social media management program like Hootsuite. This allows you to monitor all your account activity in one place—Facebook posts, Tweets, Pins, Instagram pics, and whatever other platform you use. As time allows, you should try to respond to comments and questions—both negative and positive—from viewers. Engaging with people on social media helps build rapport and keep people interested in watching your news reports.

If you get a lot of questions, remember that you don’t have to respond to every person individually. Frequently, twenty people will ask the same question—all you have to do is answer once. Start by noting that you appreciate all the questions about X, and the answer is Y, etc.

So What Do I Do When People Hate My Story? What If They Hate Me?

To begin, figure out what the problem is, and whether there is any merit to the complaint. If viewers don’t like your new haircut or the outfit you wore today, you can probably ignore them. Your hair is going to take a while to grow back and there’s not much you can do in the meantime; you’re not going to wear the same outfit two days in a row, so the viewers can look at something else tomorrow.

If you see a lot of negative comments about a story, figure out what bothers most of the viewers. Sometimes rude comments are really about the subject of the story and not the reporter or the station (although viewers have been known to get confused, or blame the station for publicizing someone they don’t like). However, if there is a specific concern about the newsworthiness or fairness of a story, that’s something you should consider addressing, especially if you have a lot of comments about it. The most common complaints about news coverage are “This isn’t news,” and “This is unfair to the subject/paints someone in a bad light/this is slander.”

Newsworthiness is a subjective thing; so long as you didn’t fail to cover another really big story, there is nothing wrong with running a human-interest piece, especially on a slow news day. Plus small stations sometimes don’t have enough hard news to fill a broadcast—but you can’t tell the audience that! Instead, respond with something like this: “We work hard to cover all the news in our area, and tonight we brought you stories about the City Council, the new zoning law, and the three-car pileup on Main Street. When we have time, we also like to report on the local person who does something noteworthy or interesting, and that’s why we covered John Doe’s yarn sculpture. Thanks for your feedback, and please let us know if you hear of any news you think we should cover.”

If someone complains that a story was unfair, the best defense is to point out all the ways in which you showed both sides of the story. For example, “Here at XYZZ, we strive to report news impartially. That’s why we included comments from both Council members in favor of the proposal and those against the proposal. We showed both sides explaining their positions so the viewers could make up their own minds.”

Learn the skills you need to succeed as a game designer at the Game Design School at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

Avoiding Awkward On-Air Situations For Journalists

awkward reporters

Recently, on a local news program, the show’s anchors congratulated their meteorologist, who wasn’t there because she’d had a baby that morning, and had sent them a picture of the baby to share with viewers. The anchors gave the baby’s name and weight, noted how adorable she was, and then moved on to the next story.

Unfortunately, the next story involved a man being arrested for beating his infant son to death. Obviously, it was a tragic situation no matter where it appeared in the show, but the producer’s choice to go from a happy baby story to a tragic one made the story awkward as well, for everyone involved. It appeared that the news anchors didn’t know that would be the next topic, because they both had horrified looks on their faces when they started reading it. They stumbled through the story and managed to pitch to break, looking somewhat relieved.

How Do I Avoid These Situations?

Production of a nightly newscast is always chaotic, becoming more so as you approach air. This is especially true given how programs often include multiple “live shots” in the course of the broadcast. It’s the details that kill you, so as the producer you have to maintain the ability to stand back and consider the entire program. Equally important, you have to be open to comments and suggestions from the show staff. You will inevitably miss something. Story producers and junior staff need to know that they not only are permitted, but encouraged to speak up.

Some stories are sad, tragic, and awful. Unfortunately, there is some truth to the old adage about the news business, “If it bleeds, it leads.” If you plan to be on-air, you’re going to have to report on murders, accidents, domestic abuse, and many kinds of avoidable deaths. In general, it’s best to read these stories with a somber and respectful tone.

However, you can’t read the entire newscast that way or your viewers may start to get depressed and change the channel. An upbeat tone is fine for stories that don’t involve death or tragedy. The problem comes when you have two very different stories right next to each other. It’s difficult to transition from a happy story to a sad one—and vice versa. You have to change your tone and facial expression abruptly while on camera.

Pay Attention When Producing

If you are producing a show, you should pay attention to how you stack stories. Usually, the A block involves the biggest news of the day, and the biggest story is what you lead with, whether it’s a political story, an accident, a murder, or the weather. (If you work in a small market, it may be the weather more days than it isn’t.) Usually producers will start with the most important story and add other subjects in order of importance, continuing through the A block.

This is a good system, and in general you should follow it. However, with the exception of the lead story, most other topics in the A block can be moved around to avoid awkward transitions. This is sometimes done to avoid technical problems, like going from one camera shot to another without giving whoever is controlling the camera sufficient time to move the camera, set up and focus the new shot. However, it can also be done to avoid problematic transitions on-air.

One solution is to build your A block, then look at the stories. Think about their content and how the transitions will look and sound on air. Keep in mind that typical lead-ins to segments like, “And now John’s here to tell us what’s happening in the exciting world of sports today!” may sound perfectly normal in some circumstances, but tacky if they immediately follow a particularly tragic story.

When going over your A block, if you note a very sad or tragic story is immediately before or after a relatively happy one, consider whether you could add a more neutral story between them. Stories about business, the economy, road work, and city council meetings generally don’t require an especially happy or somber tone. Inserting one of those topics between two emotionally disparate stories can help make smoother transitions for everyone involved.

Anchors and Reporters Also Play a Role

Avoiding awkwardness isn’t just the producer’s job. Producers are often extremely busy, and may not always have time to consider the emotional impact of each story in a block. Anchors and other on-air talent should look over the scripts beforehand if possible. As a reporter, you should make note of the stories before and after yours, your tag, and any possible problems. As an anchor, you should look over all the stories, the lead-ins, the tags, and note if there are any drastic differences in emotional tone. If something looks problematic, let the producer know—he or she may be able to move things around for a better transition.

Several years ago, when this writer was working at a local TV station, the block dedicated to national news always ended with a teaser of the sports segment, which followed after the next commercial break. Usually the anchor’s tease was something like, “Well, our local team had an exciting day at the ballpark!” and the sports anchor would say something in agreement.

On this particular night, the world news included a story about gas prices, some sort of political news, and a story about a pregnant woman who was brutally murdered, after which the attacker cut the fetus out of her body and left the scene with it. It was an awful story, made worse by the fact that it immediately lead into an upbeat tease about an exciting day at the ballpark.

The anchors did their best to hide their discomfort and pitched to break as smoothly as possible. Afterward, they told the producer that she should have rearranged the stories in the block so the murder was in the middle, and either the gas price story or the political story lead into the sports tease. They were right, of course, but if they’d carefully read over their scripts beforehand, they could have let her know ahead of time and possibly avoided the awkward on-air situation.

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