Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Dear Abby

My web site draws emails from people wanting to know how to find jobs in TV news. I reply to all of them. Occasionally, I'll get a question that I've addressed thoroughly on my site and I give the direct link. Otherwise I'll take a stab at any query to which I might offer a reasonably educated guess. I traded several e-mails over last weekend with a college senior.

Thanks for visiting my site. I'm glad you found useful information. See my attempts to answer your questions below.

John McQuiston

----Original Message Follows----
From: Gavin
Subject: Q&A
Date: Sun, 2 Sep 2007 09:40:51 -0700 (PDT)

To John McQuiston,

My name is Gavin, and I'm a senior at the State University of (a large northeastern state). I've been checking out your website for a long time. And I must say that it's very good information you give to propspective Broadcast Journalist like myself.

Anyway, as I mentioned, I'm a Broadcast Journalism major and I graduate in May of 2008, and I want to ask you a few questions:

1. How do you dub a resume tape?

This depends on how your create your master tape, the one from which you'll make your dubs, so it is difficult for me to answer. When I sent out tapes I had found a way to attach a VHS videotape player to my computer so I could dub straight from my computer. If I had to do it now, I would probably connect the VHS recorder through a Mini DV camcorder to the computer using a firewire cable.

2. How many should I be sending out to TV stations across the country?

As many as it takes to get your first job. I do not recommend sending them blindly. Send them either in response to job ads or to stations in markets you're specifically targeting -- say ones you would like to visit trying to show your tape to a news director in person.

3. What markets should I be searching for before I send the Resume tapes out?

Get a list of market size rankings. A Google search ought to lead you to something. Look at small markets likely to hire beginners. It's hard to give a specific market size for that since some stations in small markets require previous experience and some in top-100 size markets do not. Do some research to find the websites of the stations. Most list job openings on their sites and they'll indicate how much experience they seek. I would also look for small market stations within easy driving distance and try to arrange meetings with the news directors to show them your tape. That's how I landed my first TWO jobs.

Try in your remaining time in school to get an internship at a local station, if you have not already. Heck, do it even if you have had an internship already, if that's possible. You'll meet people who can help you both learn the craft and navigate the job search process.


He follows up later that day with another round of questions.

Hello again, Gavin. Answers below.

1. The Studio Manager here at (my school) told me that News Directors are looking for Resume Tapes in DVD's now. Is that true?

Some do. But my understanding is that VHS tape is still the standard. Most job ads specify what formats stations will accept for resume "tapes."

2. Is Charleston, South Carolina considered a small market? Not to mention, it ranks #100.

Any station ranked 100 or lower is considered a small market. However, not all small markets hire beginners. Even within a market the experience level required can vary among stations. A good way to check is to visit stations' web sites and look for the bios of the news team. If the people have worked at other stations before this one, it's likely not an entry-level station. If the bios indicate where people came from, that will yield clues to stations you can target.

3. Is it possible that I start out in my hometown which is Albany, New York or just go to a smaller market?

I don't know enough about Albany to answer for sure. Are you unusually talented? Is someone in Albany aware of your skills and interest who has the authority to hire you? If not, you'll probably have to start smaller and work your way up.

Good luck.

John McQuiston

The following day he writes back with more questions.

Gavin: Here you go:

1. Does a news reporter have to know Non-Linear editing?

Probably. I'm not sure how many small market stations have moved to non-linear editing. You will almost certainly need to know linear (or "tape-to-tape") editing.

2. If I decided to start in Radio news, which I'm still considering, but I still want to do TV, how do Radio News Reporters make a transition to TV news? Meaning where do they get their resume tape from if they want to work in TV, but started in radio?

I detail some of the possible ways to create a tape on my web site Here is the specific page.

3. Do you think I have to start out as a one-man band when I do my job search?

Yes. Not all entry-level reporting jobs require you to shoot your own stories but many of them do. It will make you more marketable if you can list on your resume an ability to shoot and edit your own stories.


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