How To Follow Your Dreams And Land A Job In Broadcast Journalism: Interview With Miriam Eryan

June 17, 2014

Getting into journalismUpon graduating from the New York Film Academy’s School of Broadcast Journalism, Miriam Eryan scored a dream job at The Morning Show in Australia.

Miriam now works as a freelance news and lifestyle producer across various networks. Along with a partner, she has also gone on to launch an online magazine for which they will be coming to New York in order to interview women about their careers and what it means to make it as a woman.

In our Q&A with Miriam, she shares what it takes to make it in the competitive broadcast journalism industry…

NYFA: What is your personal background and what made you decide to get into broadcast journalism?

MIRIAM ERYAN: I am a degree qualified journalist and have honestly always wanted this as my career.

My oldest memory of a love for news and stories dates back to when I was eight years old. My dad used to sit me on his lap and read the paper to me and try to break down stories that I didn’t understand. I knew then that I didn’t just love stories, but that I too wanted to be a great storyteller when I got older.

I don’t think I’ve reached greatness yet, but it’s something I’m always striving for.

NYFA: What do you think is the most important skill for a broadcast journalist?

ME: Tenacity. I think you need to be as stubborn as hell because the industry is tough. It is often unforgiving and, more often than not, unwelcoming. You need to know with every fiber of your being that this is what you want to do and then you need to be thick skinned enough to ignore the rejections and persevere on that path to your dreams.

If this is what you want to do then never stop trying. And if you pair timing with talent, you’ll eventually get your break.

NYFA: You have secured Australia’s first interviews with some pretty big names. Was that due to your training, your personal drive, luck, or a combination?

ME: It was definitely a combination.

I was trained to be a good chaser by a former boss, Sarah Stinson, who identified my drive and worked to my talents. She gave me incentivised chases. For example, she promised promotion if I could secure a few different exclusive interviews. Sure enough, she delivered on that promise and created a job opportunity for me where I might not have fit the mold of a producer at the time.

I’m the type of person that, if given an opportunity, will run with it and will strive to deliver more than my job description. I’ll always bring the goods and look to value add because, frankly, there are enough people in journalism who know how to write or speak well. I always look to have a niche and that will often get noticed.

The first element is being driven enough to force yourself into the narrow gate of journalism and having the luck of being in the right place at the right time. The second is having the talent and the grit to work through all the challenges you’ll face once you’re in.

NYFA: What advice would you give someone trying to break into the industry?

ME: If it’s all you want to do, do it. If you have doubts, don’t.

I’d say make sure you get published while you’re studying or still in school. With how easy it is to create a blog, there’s no reason for you to not have published work.

If TV is what you’re after, find creative ways to get in. I have a genius friend, Jodi Lee, who once sent a doll’s arm packaged in a job application and captioned it: “I’d give my right arm for this job.” She got two call backs. I thought this was brilliant. I emailed for two years before finally being offered work experience at the Seven Network. I then networked within the company and was fortunate enough to be given opportunities across all of their news and lifestyle programs within our building.

So my top tips would be:

  1. Be persistent
  2. Get published.
  3. Get work experience (try to stay as long as you can so you’re always at the forefront of people’s minds).
  4. Be creative in your approach.
  5. Network

NYFA: What role did the broadcast journalism program at NYFA play in developing your career?

ME: NYFA was my first real taste of independence as I’d never lived away from home or tested my ability as a journalist beyond the borders of my university (The University of Wollongong).

It taught me valuable skills in editing, filming, framing, and lighting. But aside from that, it helped me make some invaluable lifelong friends. I’m still in touch with many of the girls I studied with and that was four years ago.

The course is still a point of interest in job interviews and definitely gives me an edge in my applications because people are increasingly searching for someone with enough skills to be a one-man-band. NYFA definitely compliments my university studies.

NYFA: What made you choose the New York Film Academy?

ME: I always had a curiosity for New York and a burning desire to be there and experience journalism on a larger scale than what Australia offered. It was also hugely appealing because I was being trained by NBC veteran producer Joe Alicastro, who I had so much love and admiration for. The course is also centrally located, offers a very hands on experience, and could be used for course credit while studying.

NYFA: Is there anything in particular that stands out from your time at NYFA?

ME: The relationships I formed with so many other aspiring journalists. It meant I was building international contacts, making lifelong friends and memories, and getting a true taste of what it means to be a journalist in a big city. I would do anything to go back and would love the chance to move over there for good.

NYFA: Is there anything you wish you had known before starting your education in broadcast journalism?

ME: I think television is very much exactly as you expect it to be. It’s high pressure, you deal with some huge personalities, it’s fun, it’s gratifying, it’s indulgent but it’s also charitable. The industry has so many highs and lows. But if you’re lucky you get to experience those with a bunch of really great people who are brilliant at what they do, are like-minded, and are nurturing of your talents.

NYFA: What is your ultimate goal in the broadcast journalism industry?

ME: I need a very long career and a few lives to live out all of my dreams. I’d love to be like Louis Theroux and produce and present documentaries on stories that really matter to me at some stage.

When the travelling gets to be too much, I’d love to be Oprah (but the second-coming) and have a chance at a lifestyle program that taps into all of my interests. That way, I could dabble in lifestyle, news, current affairs, and celebrity. It would also give me the chance to write occasional columns.

NYFA: Any parting words of advice for aspiring broadcast journalists?

ME: Get your name out there. Look the part. Practice speaking on camera. Get work experience. Don’t take no for an answer. Believe in yourself. Be fearless. Be prepared to live and breathe your job. Do all your sleeping now. You’ll miss out on so much of it once you’re working. Enjoy the journey.