Two seconds. That’s my personal news director record for the least amount of time viewing a reporter applicant’s demo reel. “That’s not fair,” you say! Well, trust me, the guy had NO business applying for any TV job, let alone a reporting spot in a top 15 market. Then there was the reporter candidate who decided to start his resume reel with a boring 3-minute package. Seriously, what was he thinking? Didn’t anyone tell these people a news director has the attention span of a 5th grader? Didn’t someone warn them that a TV boss gets hundreds of demo reels for one reporting or anchoring job? That brings me to [...]

My guess is Gary Vosot has a whole line of comedy about this common faux pas in newscasts (if he doesn’t, he should!). The anchor reads a heavy story that involves death, then either the same anchor or the other anchor has to read a story about something warm and fuzzy, like bunnies. (Yes I am exaggerating, but only slightly.) Producers have so many decisions to make when designing rundowns. Length of block, not too many packages or chunks in a row, hitting key audiences, not too much crime.. and something positive to balance out the hard to take news. What often happens is, producers trying to jam it all [...]

Here’s an age old debate. Should anchors help write newscasts? Some say yes. Many say no. The answer to this question is not as simple as it seems. It all depends on the resources used to build newscasts and the makeup of the newsroom itself. Let me explain. If you work in a newsroom where there is one producer for two hours of a morning show, or the producers are very inexperienced, anchors need to have more of a hand in writing the newscasts. It’s just smart business. If there is a story that is legally dicey, either the anchor needs to write some stories to give the producer time [...]

Once you start to get creative with teases, it is natural to be drawn to add elements like sound. Sound can be an effective way to grab a viewers attention. It also is often seriously misused. So here are some rules when using sound in teases to help you stay on track. short and sweet in context character in story nats pop Remember, a sound bite from a person in a tease needs to be really short and sweet. (Unless it is so gripping you cannot turn away.) 5 seconds is ideal. Shorter, and you run the risk of the viewer not hearing what was said. Since the sound is [...]

Recently a reporter emailed “Survive” for advice on how to learn to ad lib while in the field. The main concern, how to get around technical problems.  So I asked a veteran reporter for advice.  Here goes… History is filled with quotes about the importance of preparation from very brilliant, very famous people. One of my favorites comes from a B or maybe even C-level actor named Richard Kline. (Best known as “Larry” the neighbor on “Three’s Company”) Kline says, “Confidence is preparation. Everything else is beyond your control.” I like this one because it is perfect for live shots. If you are prepared, you should and will be confident. [...]

Here’s some really interesting insight into what managers look for when interviewing you. They want to get to know YOU. They want to know why you do news, what your hobbies are and if you have ties to a particular area. They love to call me and talk about why they were drawn to a particular person when narrowing down their candidate pool for jobs. Recently I was really struck by a news director’s comment about a potential producer. “( ) never got real with me. I heard canned answers. I want to know ( ).” I think we all forget this sometimes. ND’s want to hire someone they really [...]

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