How to apply for a newscast producing job

TV-control-room-by-Dave-MalkoffBroadcast news researcher and educator Bob Papper says there’s one criterion essential for getting a producing job.

“You have to be able to breathe on your own,” says Papper.

So, that’s a joke, but it’s not that funny to news directors like Adam Bradshaw of FOX5 in Las Vegas.

“Producers, producers, producers; we need producers,” Bradshaw says.  “I get so many awful resume tapes for reporters.  There are people who have no business being on TV.  It’s a cruel business and you can’t teach look or voice, but you can teach producing.”

Bradshaw is right.  We did an analysis recently over a three-month period for all the TV jobs posted by the Top 10 broadcast news companies in the U.S.  Of the 449 TV news job postings, the top seven positions sought were producer (20%), reporter (14%), photographer (9.1%), editor (8.9%), anchor/reporter (7.1%), and anchor (6%).  These percentages have been consistent for the past five years.

That’s right — one fifth of all the jobs posted are for producers, yet for every reporter opening there may be hundreds of applicants and for every producer job, there may be fewer than a dozen, depending on market size.

So, whether you’ve always dreamed of putting together newscasts or  have resigned yourself to the fact that an on-air job may not be in your future, here’s some advice on putting together your application for a producer or associate producer position.

1.  If you have produced newscasts, either on an internship or for a college news program, submit the entire show — minus commercials.  Don’t submit a reporter reel for a producing job.

2.  Along with the show, provide a written show critique that explains your vision for the newscast and explores what went well and what didn’t — without making excuses.  Hiring managers want to know that you understand what makes a good newscast, even if you didn’t get the show you wanted on that particular day.

3. If you don’t have a show to send, getting a job will be tougher, but not impossible.  Send writing samples and/or create a blog with all kinds of work, including shooting and editing.  It’s likely you’ll be doing some work for the Web as well in your role as a newscast producer.

If you’re still in school and have the opportunity to do a producing-focused internship, do it.  If you aren’t allowed to produce an entire newscast, ask to produce one or more show segments for your supervising producer.  You’ll probably have a better chance to do this in small vs. a large TV market.

“Even if you want to be on the air, you will be a better reporter if you’ve worked awhile as a producer,” says Bradshaw.

The producing experience will give you more options on the job hunt and may lead to a satisfying career.  Papper puts it this way.

“If you’re out for ego gratification be a reporter, if you’re out for power be a producer.”