We recently talked about what hiring managers want to see on a reporter’s reel, and since then producers have reached out asking: “What do I show?”
Last week I put that question up for debate on Twitter and was surprised to see so many people say “A-Blocks.” Simple answer: NO. That is not good enough at all. Here’s why: A blocks in most shops are truly a group effort. Anyone can end up with one or two sizzling A-blocks to show off.
When I screen producer reels, I take a very close look at how you start each and every block, what the flow is like throughout the newscast, and your TEASES. Often I see a great A-block tease then, as of the end of the B-block, the teases STINK. That is a clear indicator the producer gets help at the end of the A.
Managers want to see a very solid newscast, with great flow from start to finish. They want consistent use of graphic elements, and natural sound. They are looking for movement of the anchors with purpose (and that is proving harder to pull off than you might realize for many producers) and conversational flow. Here’s another element they are looking for: How you utilize social media in your newscast and with your own accounts. This is getting to be as important as your reel. If you act childish on your Twitter handle, they will not look at your reel.
Now let’s address the second most common misconception, that producer reels should always have heavy breaking news. Not necessarily. News managers know that to a large degree how breaking news is presented has as much to do with how the staff is guided by management, as it does how well the producer puts it all together. This does not mean that managers do not want to see a killer breaking news/continuous coverage newscast. But that should not be the only newscast on your reel. Your “everyday” work should actually sell you more.
So to answer the “What should my reel have?” question, you need two things: A very well put together “regular news day” show and one that showcases how you handle breaking news. Yep, two newscasts. Oh and, by the way, do not leave all of the WX hits and sports in there, show the transition, then cut to the end of the segment. We newscast reviewers don’t need to see what the high temperature was or who won the game and we get tired of constantly having to fast forward. You’ll get brownie points for showing that courtesy!