TV news directors reveal their resume-watching secrets

With December graduations complete and the holidays over, news directors all around the country will be watching a lot of resume reels, but not for very long.

News director Lee Thompson oversees KTVZ/KFXO in Bend, Oregon.  He says he gives job candidates all of :10 before he decides whether they’re worth looking at longer.  If not, he puts the them in the “Good luck with your career” file.

As we reported in a post last year, at WPMI in Mobile/Pensacola, Bob Noonan says he watches a resume reel for :30, but only after he’s read the “paper” resume.  On that resume, he says he’s looking for evidence of internships and for where the candidate went to school in case he knows one of the professors who teaches in the program.

News director Dave Beech is more generous with his time.  When hiring for WTVA in Tupelo, Mississippi, he might watch a reel for as long as :90, unless he gets bored first.

Beech says the reel should include 2-3 stand-ups and 2-3 stories—no more.  He’s also OK with candidates including a little anchoring at the end.


(Reporter Aubry Killion works at 5News in Ft. Smith, Arkansas.  This is the reel he used to get a job right out of school.)

Noonan says his last hire’s resume reel began with a few stand-ups in which she moved and was creative.  Thompson says he met his last hire at News Director Day at NAB.  He found her engaging, and within 24 hours she had made contact again with him.  She included links to her resume and video work within the email.

Thompson’s advice to job seekers is to meet as many people in the business as possible, and give them your card and resume.

Just make sure your reel is dynamite right off the top.

Thanks to Dr. Nancy Dupont at the University of Mississippi for her contributions to this post.

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4 comments for “TV news directors reveal their resume-watching secrets

  1. John Ehrhart
    May 6, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Candidates should also have someone else review their resume’ and cover letter. Getting a cover letter with another station’s call letters is not amusing.
    That, and misspelling the news director’s name (and anything else) are somewhat self-defeating, and self-eliminating. If the person can’t get these basics right, how would we expect them to be any better while reporting?

  2. January 21, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    When I used to look over candidates, as a Senior Editor for a Hearst station, I had an approach similar to Noonan’s. It all began with the resume. Photog/Editor reels are a different beast than talent reels. A good reel doesn’t equal a good news photog/editor.

    My first step was to always check the resume and see if they had sufficient experience in the role. 10 years of editing film doesn’t translate to, “I can edit news.” If convinced by the resume, I’d follow up by watching the reel for around a minute. My number one thing I looked for was, if this person can tell a story. Technique can be polished but story-telling has to be intuitive.

    Now teaching Broadcast Journalism at Oklahoma Baptist University, I spend more and more time giving soon-to-be graduates tips on their demo reels.

    Twitter @xtiannetizen

  3. January 27, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. As a young journalist getting ready to graduate, this is really helpful. It’s shocking to see how few of seconds you have to make a good impression. However, I believe this pushes you harder and makes you strive for each of your stand-ups to be better than before. I also think it is really important for reporters to incorporate a lot of nat sound pops into their packages. One thing I struggle with is how long a reel should be. I have heard anywhere from 5 minutes, to 7 minutes, to even 10 minutes.

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