How to Become a TV Anchor

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With the increased number of news programs, news anchors may be found on a variety of news shows. News anchors are the people who read the news as well as present video segments during news shows. Many times, the news anchor has additional responsibilities; including editing news copy, as well as helping determine the flow of the news stories. Many news anchors start with other TV hosting jobs, TV station jobs, broadcast or journalism positions and then progress to the anchor position.

Job Functions of a TV Anchor

Newscasters in major markets, like TV jobs in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston or New York, usually specialize in a type of news, such as general news, weather or sports. The News Anchor may be a single individual or a team of people who will present each segment of the news, including introducing sports, weather, and other special interest reporters.



The television news anchor is the most prominent member of the news team. The news anchor also takes part in the afternoon news meetings to establish the story flow for the news program. Many times, the anchor will write articles, as well as edit other articles gathered by field reporters. The news anchor may also be able to function as the news director in some stations. During the news meeting, the priority and importance of each story is rated and the number of broadcast minutes is determined for each segment. If major events take place during the news cycle, such as a natural or man-made disaster or a large civic event, the anchor works with the producers and other reporters in constructing the newscast.

Stations may have news shows as various times of the day. Traditionally, news shows are broadcast in the morning, at noon, in the evening between five to seven P.M. and then again between 10 or 11 P.M. The early evening news shows generally have the highest viewership and the most prestigious anchor position.

Important Skills to Demonstrate

Because the TV anchorperson is a highly visible position, having excellent communication skills, as well as being likable on air is critical. Networks use a variety of scoring and market research techniques to determine how the viewing community is receiving and watching the news show. Because television stations are able to charge more money per minute for advertisements on shows watched by more people of a certain demographic segment, station management will try to select news anchors who meet the goals of the station.

Television ratings are one way that stations determine the success of a news anchor. Stations may also conduct Q rating surveys to determine if viewers not only see the show, but how they like the people on the show, including the news anchor.

Most TV anchors are attractive, well spoken and have excellent writing and reading skills. They also must be excellent interviewers as well as handle ad-libs if there are technical difficulties.

Specific Skills for News Anchors

Many stations require the TV News Anchor to have been a reporter. As a reporter, the prospective anchor person learns how to investigate leads and tips, as well as how to cover the story. The reporter also observes events at the news scene as well as interviews people. Reporters learn how to effectively take notes and direct the video coverage of the event.

Because news anchors also must write stories, they must demonstrate the ability to organize news material based on the emphasis and focus of the story. They must also be able to write stories as well as edit the associated video or still photos into an eye-catching and interesting story.

Because news events may happen very close to the actual broadcast, the news anchors must be able to work well under very tight deadlines. Most stations require that candidates for a news anchor position have a portfolio that includes stories, videos, and broadcasts of their work. In addition, during the interviewing process, the station may conduct a screen test of the anchor with the rest of the team to determine if the candidate has a good fit with the rest of the staff.

Educational Experience

Almost all news anchors have at least a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism or Mass Communications. However, other degrees may be considered if the candidate has extensive experience.

Employers find that experience is a better predictor of success than the educational background to the news anchor. Because of this, many news anchors start as reporters in smaller markets and move up based on their success. A reporter may become a field reporter, receiving on-air time reporting live from a news scene. Then the reporter may be promoted to a morning or noon news anchor position in a smaller market. As the news anchor gains experience, the next step may be a news anchor position in a major market, like Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York.

Job Outlook

Jobs in news anchor roles are expected to grow by two percent between 2006 and 2016. Consolidation and convergence of markets, as well as the dominance of news-only networks will drive this trend. Securing a position as well as maintaining a position will become much more competitive, as the number of positions remains flat, while stations attempt to use on-air personalities to increase ratings.
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