Dealing with the “pros”

Alex Carrasquillo has worked in news for 3 years. He’s a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Communication Media program. He started as a news production assistant and weekend assignment editor at WRAL-TV in Raleigh, N.C. He’s currently the 10 p.m. news producer for WJCL-TV, the ABC affiliate in Savannah, Ga.

Walking into a newsroom with no experience is obviously intimidating. I did that in TV market 24 and it took leaving two years later to realize how much more intimidated I should have been. WRAL-TV taught me my first lesson in news: you don’t know everything. My second lesson quickly followed: industry veterans can be incredibly nice if they know you’re passionate and willing to learn.

It seems simple, but it’s crucial. I recommend putting all your energy into absorbing everything you can. No task is too small and I bet the pro’s would agree they still work to do the same.

I had two awesome opportunities to talk with a vice president of news for Hearst Television, the parent company of WJCL-TV. We spent some time talking about dealing with veteran talent. She made this point: producers are often, but not exclusively, newsroom leaders in a variety of ways. That applies to young producers working with people who have spent a lot of time in the business.

Take advantage of this opportunity. Share your passion and ask questions when you’re unsure of how you should handle a block or the order of your stories. They’ll take note if you recognize you don’t know everything. Talk to them about the vision you have for your newscast. Don’t just wait until they see it in the rundown. Your trust in them will build their trust in you. They’ll likely tell you there’s nothing worse than “flying blind” on that anchor desk or in the field… and they’re right. You should always be on the same page.

One of my favorite on-air people in this business once told me any talent who tells you they don’t have some kind of ego, is lying. The egos will come and go – both on-air and behind the scenes. All you can control is the effort and interest you put into your newscast and newsroom. The rest will fall in line.

Then there’s the fine line between realizing you don’t know everything and knowing you shouldn’t be afraid to speak up. Respectfully tell your coworkers what you think about an approach to coverage or a story idea. You’ll learn so much from the conversation that follows. Always be open to new concepts and feedback, don’t be afraid to own your mistakes. It all adds up to a way of life in a newsroom.

Once the pro’s see you’re fully committed to your work and your station’s character, your limited experience will become less important. The great thing about news is that everyone is up against the same journalistic standards regardless of age and experience.

Storytelling tip: getting better NAT sound

This is my mantra for storytelling: Come back with great stuff!

It’s hard to tell a great story without great ingredients and one of the best ingredients is good NAT sound.

NAT sound allows you to bring the viewer to the scene. In TV we have such an advantage of being able to show emotion just as it happens, and I see far too many reporters/photographers/MMJ’s who simply don’t use NAT sound or don’t use it properly.

You have to PLAN to get your sound. Do not just hope you can find some nice moments when you sit down to edit. Know what your story is and be thinking about the sound you can get as you drive to your shoot. If you are working with a photog, discuss your possibilities.

Covering a memorial for a high school student killed in a car crash? Work to capture silence. Birds chirping in the distance works well for showing how quiet a place is. Trees rustling in the wind. Subtle sniffles in the crowd. The clanking of a flag against a flag pole. You can use this sound throughout your piece to really bring me there and show the emotion.

Covering the ever popular “crime in a quiet neighborhood”? Get video/sound of a playful dog in the yard next door. A child chasing a ball down the street. Someone getting the mail/hear the mailbox open. SHOW me how normal and “quiet” this neighborhood is. That’s more effective than you telling me.

Sports feature about a baseball player overcoming adversity? Mic up his mom and go to the other side of the field and shoot her from long distance. She will forget you are there and will usually give you great stuff. Dugouts can provide very good sound. Cleats on the concrete. Cheering players. Coach yelling instructions or clapping. Ball hitting glove is fine, but you can do better than that.

COME BACK WITH GREAT STUFF! You will be amazed how much easier the storytelling process becomes when you do the hard work on the front end.

what does a sports producer do?

Chris Dachille is an executive sports producer at WBAL-TV in Baltimore. He’s more than happy to give you career advice and not fantasy football advice.

If you could possibly wish for a job, mine must rank in the top five. What if I told you that, as your job, you have to keep tabs on all sports while making your own schedule and get to go to pretty much any game you want to attend? I tell people all the time that I watch sports for a living. That’s only half true. I also plan for coverage, deal with massive egos, coordinate with a mass of people and try to make sure the fictional train stays on track.

I’m a referee. Don’t know who the referee is after the game? He or she likely did a good job. That’s my goal.

I’ve had the great fortune of having one job in my professional television career that’s now in its second decade. I work at WBAL-TV in Baltimore, Maryland and I absolutely love my job. It’s the only job where colorful language is required and you go through all 12 stages of grief all day long. My hair will turn grey earlier than most. The total of my checking account doesn’t compare with all of my friends (I make less) and my social life is a royal mess.

I have something that most people don’t have in their mid 30’s: I love my job.

My job has taken me to cover a Super Bowl (that may be a blog in itself down the road), an ALCS, the Winter Classic, playing a U.S. Open golf course, riding in a NASCAR pace car on race day, seeing a Triple Crown winning horse and voting in the Associated Press Top 25 basketball poll. It’s my fourth of doing that. I’m officially a senior.

That previous paragraph isn’t a “name drop.” It’s the bonuses we received in this line of work. Bond traders may receive Christmas bonuses. I get to go to whatever local event I want and eat for free in (usually) the best seat possible. It’s one hell of a perk.

There is actual work to my job. I have a dry erase board that lists all the events of the week right next to my tack board of local schedules. I constantly monitor the AP wires for news, am a Twitter-holic, and scan all of our news feeds for missed stories. I stack & write special sports shows that our station produces. And if anyone tells you that local sports is dead, I would love to speak with them. I’ve done more and more in the last 4-5 years.

During football season, I average 55-60 hours per week at work that includes a 14 hour workday on Sunday. My only off day is Saturday and I spend that all day watching college football. I almost always feel that I’m missing a story when in my downtime.

This isn’t a job that you can leave at 5:00 every day and go to happy hour. That’s not saying that you can’t carve out time and enjoy life. You can. You just also have to understand that when breaking news occurs, your life changes – and you have to prepare for that. Do you want to stay on the date with the attractive young man or lady? That’s great. Maybe this profession isn’t for you.

Then again, if you have gotten this far, maybe it is. There’s no feeling like going into a television control room as you glance over an overload of monitors and work in sync with reporters, anchors, directors, technical directors and everyone else to produce something that makes you immensely proud.

I encourage you to tweet me @WBALDash if you have any questions.

Nice clothing and gear lugging

I felt the need to write this after an unfortunate incident with a tripod this week. First a little background. I shoot 99% of my own video.

Normally when I have a day that I know I am going to shoot a lot, I try to wear clothes that can deal with the lugging of the gear. So I wear flats, pants (for the kneeling), and a shirt that can withstand the whole camera on the shoulder thing.

You would think after more than a decade of doing this I would learn to stick to what works. I did not. Last Thursday I decided to wear a nice silk shirt that I usually wear to anchor. I decided to wear it because I thought the color would be nice for the stand-up. I proceeded to ruin the shirt by snagging it on the tripod. See picture below.

Ladies and gentlemen who carry gear: Do not wear anything you don’t want to get a pull/snag in, or poke a hole in. It’s simply not worth it. Save the nice stuff for the desk or days you …gasp… have a photog! OR…and this is something I should do more of…bring the nice shirt and change after you are done shooting.

image

Top Ten Words and Phrases To Avoid

Jeff  Butera is a three-time Emmy Award-winning journalist. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Florida, he has reported for stations across the county, including in Phoenix and Tampa. He is currently the primary news anchor at WZVN-TV (ABC) In Fort Myers, where his work earned him a coveted Murrow Award for Hard News Reporting.

One of the most important tenets of broadcast writing is to be conversational. That means you should write like you talk. Your writing should sound like you’re having a conversation with the viewer, not like you’re preaching a sermon on a mountain.

​Yet, far too often, the way people in news talk sounds abnormal; the words and phrases used would never be said in a real-life conversation.

​Here are 10 words and phrases I’m sure you’ve heard anchors and reporters say before, but I’d recommend avoiding yourself:

1. “Lucky to be alive.”
Example: A Fort Myers man is lucky to be alive after flipping his car overnight.

We’re all lucky to be alive. But the phrase ‘lucky to be alive’ has become a television news cliché that you’re better off eliminating. Clichés are not your friend.

2. “Blaze”
Example: Firefighters are fighting the 50-acre blaze.

No one in real life says ‘blaze.’ They just call it a fire. And no viewer is sitting at home counting how many times you say ‘fire.’ Call it a ‘fire’ 50 times in a row before saying ‘blaze’ once. Remember, write like you talk.

3. “Motorists”
Example: Triple A expects 30 million motorists to be on the roads this Thanksgiving weekend.

I guarantee you didn’t count down the days until you turned 16 and could finally be a ‘motorist.’ Call them ‘drivers.’ Normal people do.

4. “High alert”
Example: Neighbors are on high alert tonight, after a murder in their neighborhood.

I’m not sure I really even know what ‘high alert’ means. I would just say neighbors are ‘scared’ or ‘anxious.’

5. “Breaks their silence” and “speaking out”
Example: The governor is breaking his silence, and speaking out about the allegations of abuse.

These two are among the worst ‘TV news creations’ out there. The only place I ever hear anyone say ‘speaking out’ is on the news.

My recommendation: Unless someone actually took a vow of silence, ditch ‘breaks their silence.’ And instead of using the cliché ‘speaking out,’ just say someone is ‘talking about’ a particular topic.

6. “Shocking” and “stunning”
Example: This next story is shocking.

We’re journalists. We deal with objective facts. Leave the subjective adjectives to someone else. Tell the viewer the story and let them decide if they’re shocked or stunned.

7. “Fled on foot”
Example: The suspect fled on foot through a wooded area.

Police officers talk a certain way. I call it ‘cop speak.’ But there’s nothing that says because they talk that way, you have to talk that way.

Translate their language into words that sounds conversational. For example, ‘fled on foot’ simply becomes ‘ran away.’

8. “The 35-hundred block”
Example: The robbery happened on the 35-hundred block of Main Street.

I barely know what ‘hundred block’ I live on!

I don’t think it adds much to say something happened on the ’35-hundred block of Main Street.’ I can’t imagine a viewer having that much knowledge of addresses to learn anything from that.

Instead, use well-known landmarks to help your viewer place where something happened. “The robbery happened on Main Street, right across from the Publix shopping center and the Big Boy statue.”

9. “Went missing.”
Example: The child went missing last night.

Far better to just say someone ‘vanished’ or ‘disappeared.’ The phrase ‘went missing’ just sounds clunky.

10. “Parent’s worst nightmare.”
Example: It’s a parent’s worst nightmare – their child waking up with a cough.

We have no idea what a parent’s worst nightmare is. And whenever I see the phrase used, my first reaction is usually ‘I can think of a million things worse than that.’

Let’s not presume to know what a parent’s worst nightmare is. Just tell the viewer the story and let them decide where it ranks on the nightmare scale.

Jeff  is the author of “Write Like You Talk: A Guide To Broadcast News Writing.” It is available at http://www.WriteLikeYouTalk.com.

 

Remembering the “why”

It is very easy to get very burned out when working in this business.

For a sports anchor like me, the burn out comes with the long hours and the weekends and the lack of days off. It comes when you shoot high school football on a Friday night only to turn around and wake up really early to drive four hours to shoot a college game that takes four hours to play and it’s 1,000 degrees and then you have to shoot a stand-up and you look like a sweaty mess….then drive back and post everything to the web.

For news reporters, the burn out comes with the long hours and the weekends and the lack of true understanding of just how long it takes to get from point “A” to point “B”. It comes when the desk sends you to a meeting that started 15 minutes ago, and when that doesn’t work they want an “MOS” instead. And while you are at it, shoot a VO of that festival that, may or may not make air, but will take you at least one hour to drive to and set up the sticks and shoot and edit.

In both cases we are hot and tired and we are among the people of the “real” world who spend their time GOING to football games and GOING to festivals and we are, instead, pointing a camera at them and trying to make deadline.

So why on earth do we continue to do this?

Because it is our passion. Because there was some point when we all decided this is what we wanted to do. It may have hit you in elementary school when they held try-outs for the “morning announcements”. Maybe it was all about joining the school paper and trying to make editor. There was a certain excitement and there were butterflies and you couldn’t wait to achieve your dreams.

You didn’t “happen” into this business. This was likely your childhood dream. So take 5 minutes and think about how many people ACTUALLY get to do the job they wanted to do when they were kids. Sure, it’s probably not as glamorous as you imagined, but I am betting there are days when it lives up to every single expectation. The days when you break a big story or shoot the perfect shot or write the most appropriate sentence.

It is really easy to get done with work on a random Tuesday and go home and feel bitter and angry about making no money and having no life and working long hours with no appreciation. That’s when we need to remember WHY we started.

Storytelling tip: tell a better story quickly


Here is one easy way to make your storytelling (under a really tight deadline) just a little bit better today. Learn to think of soundbites as PART of the flow of the story. You think you already do that? Are you sure?

Here is an example of a story I see often:

track: Mike Smith’s neighbor allegedly killed his wife today and Smith says he just can’t believe something like that would happen in this fine neighborhood.

{soundbite from Smith talking about what a fine neighborhood this is}

track: Smith says his neighbor seemed like a normal man

{soundbite from smith talking about how normal his murderer neighbor seemed}

track: Smith says he is hoping his neighbor is brought to justice.

{Soundbite from Smith talking about how he no longer would like to live next to a man who allegedly murdered his wife}

track: Smith is going to continue standing here and nodding at me and says he will never forget this day.

I’m Sally Atwater reporting from a city near you for the station you are watching.

Sound familiar? If you have spent any time reporting in this business, you have probably written a story like this. I have written stories like this. Why? Because we are all on deadline and this kind of story is easy to turn in 30 minutes. You don’t have to log bites. You can voice it quickly, and insert whatever bite fits with the track. The problem with this kind of story is…well..it stinks. It’s simply track-bite-track-bite-track. And it could easily be ANY bite. That doesn’t make for a great STORY.

So how can we do better with the short amount of time we have? Challenge yourself to listen when you are interviewing Mike Smith. Remember at least 1 key soundbite and write out of it. (we are trying to avoid starting every track with “Smith says”)

So let’s give this soundbite a try.

{I’m in shock. I never thought this horrible thing could happen in this wonderful neighborhood.}

Track: now that it has, this once loyal neighbor is hoping for justice.

{I hope they put him under the jail for what he did to that wonderful woman}

Track: A voice of surprise in a shaken neighborhood.

I’m Sally Atwater reporting from a city near you on a station you are watching.

See the difference? The TRACKS and the SOTS are working together. It suddenly flows and it’s not as choppy. All you have to remember about the interview is that Smith mentioned he “never thought it could happen” and write out of that bite instead of around it. “now that it has…”

I’m in no way saying this line will win you your Emmy. Just start thinking like this and you may be able to improve the stories you are writing under a tight deadline.

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Don’t do this. You won’t make any money!

I think I heard the phrase 1,496 times when I was in J-School at the University of Florida. Professors liked to talk about it. I heard it on my internships. I heard it when people came to talk to my class. I think I heard it in my sleep.

“Don’t do this you won’t make any money!!!!!!!!!”

So is this true and what does that mean?

I will preface this by saying “money” or “a lot of money” is very different from person to person. I had an engineering major as a roommate in college. I think she started at 90k right out of school. Will you make that? Not a chance! But you can make that at some point. I think that’s the beauty of TV News. It’s possible to make money. It’s also possible to make a career of making 40k. When you start moving up in the biz you will come up with a number you would like to reach to be comfortable. That’s different for each of us. Try to get to that number and don’t worry about the rest.

So to answer the first question…is it true? I would lean towards no. I think you can make a comfortable living if you make the right moves and you are patient.

However…It takes a long time. So are you willing to wait that long? I think that’s the question. It’s important that you understand what it means to make peanuts for the first several years of your professional life.

I once took a toilet paper roll from the bathroom at my first station because I only had $.65 in my bank account at the time and I…you know…kind of needed to have some of that at home. I still feel guilty about it even though I replaced the roll when I got paid two days later. It just goes to show how desperate times can be. I was a college graduate and I didn’t even have a dollar. How embarrassing! But here I am 13 years later to tell you it does get better and, even with the tough times, you can still hold on to the passion you had when you started.

So how do you live through the years of not being able to afford a decent pizza or good beer or an extra roll of TP?

  1. Learn to live on a budget. WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING! This is important. Figure out how much “life” will cost you. Rent, electricity, cable, gas (I forgot to budget gas one time-Dumb), internet, cell phone bill, food etc. Once you have added all that up figure out how much you have left. My first job left me at $78 a month for “other”…THAT was not fun. But you have to stick to it.
  2. Once you have the budget and the number for “other” figured out, learn to get creative. Clip coupons. Learn how to make food that involves rice (it’s kind of cheap). Find fun ways to enjoy yourself that don’t cost much like having movie nights with friends at home. Playing board games. Having a spaghetti night (it’s kind of cheap). Buy cheap wine and read a book.
  3. Do not mess with credit cards unless absolutely necessary. No. You don’t need the expensive pair of heels just because you are an anchor. Find an outlet. Find a DSW or a TJ Maxx. Save the credit cards for emergencies like your car breaking down or you breaking your leg while trying to get a “great shot” of the guy walking out of the courtroom.

Clothes make, or break, the anchor

This is a guest post from Jenn BatesJenn has been the morning anchor at KWCH since November 2014 and was a sports anchor/reporter for 8.5 years in Wichita and Tri-Cities, WA before that. Jenn studied telecommunications-news at the University of Florida from 2002-2006.

Recently we had a new female traffic anchor start working on our team. She is 100% fantastic. She is very kind and smart and, as you might guess of a former beauty queen, drop dead gorgeous. One of her biggest issues so far is not the technology, it’s not that she’s doing traffic in a market like ours which rarely has many traffic issues, no, in fact it’s that she’s dealing with wardrobe issues! Not like, Janet Jackson wardrobe issues (I hope you’re all old enough to understand that reference) but more finding things that work on TV.

This can be a struggle for a lot of women especially in sports. Every single consultant and news director will tell you to wear bright colors. Blues and reds and purples but just make it bright! Like most things consultants say, that will get annoying.

Inherently the difference between women in sports and women in news is the level of ‘conservative’ nature we’re expected to have. In sports ladies can get a way with a lot more skin showing. Short sleeves and tank tops, tighter dresses (think Hannah Storm, Cari Champion) and overall more prints etc. I’ll get back to those topics in just a minute but I want to start with women in news.

When I started on the morning news desk I got a really strange email about my clothes. Strange and mean emails are normal in this business but this one struck me a little differently. The viewer said that the fact I was wearing suits and blazers made me look less feminine. I didn’t realize that wearing a navy suit with a hot pink tie-front blouse was masculine but alas it got me thinking. I started buying a whole lot more dresses after that email and looking for more ways to incorporate skirts. Biggest tip for ladies in news? Yes, those bright colors are awesome but you’ll need to get a lot of separate pieces so you can mix and match. Clothing allowances are so wonderful to have but I also work to stretch my dollar as far as it can go. TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Ross are my go-to’s for Ralph Lauren jersey faux wrap dresses that look perfect on every body. If it looks good I get it in a ton of colors. You can also grab cardigans and blouses on sale at plenty of spots that will make it easier to vary your choices without breaking the bank.

The issue my traffic anchor has is that multiple viewers have written in talking about the clothing she wears being too tight or too low cut. Are they too tight or too low cut? Not at all, she looks great in them. However, we live in a very conservative area and women are more modest here. It’s best to show as little cleavage as possible (I put tanks or bra-lettes on with deeper cut dresses) and cover up as much as you can. The hard part is, v-necks are the best for women on-air! Bottom line, do what you can and don’t give viewers any fuel for their already raging complaint fire!

Ladies in sports you have a much different obstacle: team colors. Mandy and I always joke about this phenomenon but it’s a real thing! Mandy and I own a lot of black and shades of pink because those are what I call our ‘neutral gang colors.’ Whenever I covered Kansas vs. Kansas State I never wore red, blue or purple. I usually wore pink, green or black. Why? Well for some reason fans actually care about that stuff. You wouldn’t believe some of the tweets and emails I got about the colors I was wearing while covering a game. People actually thought me wearing blue blouse meant I was rooting for the Jayhawks when really I just like blue!

Another bugaboo of mine and Mandy’s is reporters intentionally wearing the colors of the team they’re covering. Kentucky basketball reporters may be the biggest violators of this; I’ve even seen a reporter wearing a UK logo tie while covering the team! You should avoid coming across as a cheerleader for the team you’re covering. That’s another topic for another blog, though.

Something that affects both ladies in sports and ladies in news is that you need to be taken seriously and your clothing plays a huge part in dictating that. How many times have you looked at the FOX news anchors or even the ESPN women and immediately started talking about their clothing instead of listening to what they are saying? I’m not saying you should make yourself plain and unattractive but you need to not be distracting, there’s a big difference there.

Jewelry is one of the biggest topics for my GM. I love a good chunky necklace but they’re not really the best for TV. That’s not to say I don’t wear them but they’re best in moderation. A lot of your clothing and jewelry choices will be dictated by your News Director and maybe even your GM if they are as involved as mine is.

Five “small” ways you can make a successful “small” start

This is a guest post from WBTW morning anchor Rusty Ray

I’m not your typical thirty-something small-market TV anchor.
I have worked in one place for a long time. Same market. Different roles. I know, I know. Say what you want, but I’m fine with my decisions.
However, I do think there are five things young reporters who want to succeed in local TV can try as they begin their careers. These tips could help them both professionally and personally.

  1. Don’t live somewhere you don’t really want to live and don’t work a shift you really don’t want to work. A broadcast professor strode into our “Intro To Journalism” class at University of Maryland once upon a time and announced: “If you want to be on-air and hope to have enough money to pay for a new car, a new house, all new clothes…want to be off on holidays…want to live in your hometown or close to it…and be guaranteed you’ll be on-air in your first or second jobs…now is the time to leave this profession.” Ten to fifteen years ago, I think the model really was: start small and work your way up. Now, arguably, bigger companies with smaller pocketbooks may be willing to pay less-experienced people to work (and do more work). So, geographically, it’s not as big an issue as when I started. But—if you really don’t want to live in, say, Florida, or on the west coast, or somewhere frigid, or somewhere not near a major airport, then don’t apply there. Period. Why set yourself up for misery right away? Just to say “I got my start?” Narrow your choices. Also, if you really, really, really can’t stand the thought of working weekends, don’t apply for a weekend job. Or if you really, really, really can’t stand the thought of working an overnight or early-morning shift, don’t apply for that job. I am saying this not to sound ignorant, but to try to save you—and your potential future co-workers and supervisors—a lot of trouble. Nothing is worse than someone who, for whatever reason, gives up halfway through a contract (or sooner) because he/she is—let’s call it what it is—homesick, miserable, or, worse yet, bored. Can your mind be changed about that dreaded weekend schedule? Sure. And Christmas Eve in the newsroom is what you make of it. It’s also nice not waiting in line at the movie theatre on a Thursday afternoon, or the grocery store check-out on a Tuesday night. Embrace where you are, but make sure you’re really willing to go there before you even apply for that job that you think you “have” to take.
  2.  Talk to people. I know, right? Sounds simple enough. When I arrived in rural southeastern North Carolina to work in a two-person bureau just two months out of college in Maryland, my co-worker listened and observed my behavior for a few weeks, and then told me I needed to find a way to talk to people. Just talk. Small-talk. Shoot the breeze, about mostly nonsense. Funny thing is: it works. It’s tough to do for some people. My mother (a therapist) once asked us to take personality tests, and I registered as an introvert. She was shocked. I explained to her that I had developed a skill over time to just talk. It helps me feel comfortable when I know that I need the person I am with to give me information. That may sound shady, but it’s not. I promise. You have to have this skill. It’s valuable on the job and in your new life in a new place. Ask someone where to get your hair cut. Ask someone where he or she goes to church. Ask someone where the best beer and ribs joint is in town. You may make a new friend, and you then make yourself a part of the community. If people in the community can see you as more than just that person they (hopefully) see on TV, then they will trust you as an advocate and a way to tell their stories. But it starts with a conversation, that, often, you’ll have to start. You can do it. I did.
  3. Listen to people. Again, it sounds simple. The best part about talking is listening. Believe me: this is where you find stories. That dread you may feel as you slink into the morning or afternoon editorial or planning meeting can vanish if you know you have a rock-solid lead on a story that the guy at the gas station told you about. Or you may have overheard something at the salon, and asked an open-ended question that continued the conversation and opened you up to a great story about what someone in the community is experiencing. Small-talk is tough, and, often, unrewarding. But listening is super-valuable. It’s not just for when the camera is on. The best way to find a story is to extend a hand for a handshake, and to find out where someone lives, and how long he or she has been there. You can’t be let down, and neither can your viewers, ultimately.
  4. Drive with your eyes open. You do a lot of driving in local TV news. To and from work. To and from stories. To and from that beer and ribs joint after work. (Be smart about that one. Don’t lose the job you just got by making THAT mistake.) But pay attention to the community you’re living in. That little sign with a big “Z” on it at the entrance to your favorite banking location could mean a public hearing is about to take place over whether there should be another new Walmart on that side of town. Those trees that are now gone could have formerly occupied the site of a new neighborhood that will only add to the traffic on an already-busy road. It’s humiliating to read something in the newspaper about your neighbors that you could have easily known yourself if you’d just paid a little closer attention—and yes, asked a question or two and listened for the answers. Local TV can make a new person in town feel isolated, but by paying attention to what is going on around you, you can show you’re interested in your new home and ready to tell some very valuable and interesting stories.
  5. Be a part of the community. Sometimes you read a reporter or an anchor’s bio on the station website and it says something like “so-and-so is a board member for the Southeastern Valley Chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters.” It’s not bragging. It shows that he or she is involved. You can easily find a way to get involved in the community. It starts with what you’re interested in, and what you think you may be able to contribute. It helps you feel less like a stranger in a strange place and more like a part of the community. Sure, you may be gone in two short years. But why not make an impact—and pick up some valuable story tips—along the way? You have the opportunity to further your career in these communities, but you also have the opportunity to leave it better than you found it.

The biggest thing about TV on-camera performance is how to un-naturally appear natural. I think the same can apply to putting yourself out there in a new place that you may—or may not—be invested in long-term. Why not try something new, and why not go a little bit further to see what good things can happen when you do?
I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.