It’s a dilemma faced by many on the hunt for a reporting or anchoring job. Do you take an off-air position as a producer or work on the website to get your foot in the door? Or do you reject any opportunity that doesn’t involve doing your dream job?
Talent coach Nick Dalley says there are variables to consider.
“Does the ND see such a transition in the cards at all? Does he/she have something personal against non on-air people becoming on-air — that is, has it been tried before with unsuccessful consequences?” asks Dalley.
Dave Beech is news director at WTVA in Tupelo, Mississippi. He says working an off-air job first can be a bonus.
“I have always found in my career that reporters who start off as producers, for two or three years, make the best reporters and the best producers start off as reporters ,” said Beech, “A really good producer has that reporting background and the really good reporters have that producing background. “
Another variable is the candidate’s approach to the job, according to Dalley. Are you the type of person who is willing to go over and above consistently so as to make yourself attractive? That may mean coming in early, staying late and illustrating qualities that will make you seem seem indispensable.
That’s what Christina Garcia did when she was hired as a Web producer at WLOX-TV in Biloxi, Mississippi. Her background was in print journalism at the University of South Alabama, but she had interned at WKRG in Mobile and got the job at WLOX in 2011. From that moment on, she tried to learn every job in the newsroom to make herself a more valuable employee.
“While I was working as a Web producer, I would put in extra time on my weekends, I would go out with the reporters, I would sit and watch the anchors and I would sit and learn everything I possibly could,’ said Garcia.
Garcia is now anchoring the 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts, and Dalley says her path is one other job candidates can walk.
“Keep your axe sharp. Meet the talent coach. As a talent coach, it’s always impressive to me to have someone come up and ask for five minutes of feedback. I rarely refuse if it’s at all possible,” said Dalley. “Short of this, ask people who did get coaching what the coach went over in the session. Ask for coaching from the ND or the EP. Sometimes five minutes can be very effective.”
Dalley says it’s also important to keep lines of communication open with the news director — make sure he or she knows of your aspirations.
Garcia was so busy that Dr. Nancy Dupont, who contributed to this post, had to talk to her while she was putting on makeup for the 6’clock show with meteorologist Mike Reader. WTVA producer intern Christina Sallis also contributed to this post.