Help Wanted: TV producers in demand

Where are the jobs in TV news?  Just ask news director Bruce Barkley of WAPT in Jackson, Miss.

“Want to be a producer? asks Barkley.

He’s not kidding, either.  Year after year, news directors lament that for every reporter job they get dozens of applicants, if not more.  For a producer job, some in small markets get no more than a handful.

But what if you’ve never had the opportunity to produce a newscast?

“Show me some writing,” says news director Jeff Houston of WTVA in Tupelo, Miss.  “But be sure your samples are concise.  Remember, you may have only 20 seconds of a newscast to explain what’s going on in Libya.”

Stan Sanders, news director at WDBD in Jackson, Miss., has been known to take  a chance on hiring new college grads as producers, if they prove that they have three things:

1. Knowledge of the station. 

2. Knowledge of the market.

3. A passion for the work.

“This is not a job,” says Sanders.  He says he wants to hire people who get to work early and stay late because they love what they do.

Sanders also says producers and assignment editors are tough to find and hard to hold on to — once they have experience, they move very quickly to bigger markets or bigger roles at their television stations.

If you are lucky enough to have produced a few newscasts, select the best to show a prospective employer and include a written critique of what you think went well and what you would do to improve the show next time.