Getting a Television Anchor Job

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Many a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed young journalism student dreams of being in the spotlight as a television anchor, hoping to have a swift rise from reporting to anchoring or hosting. However, despite the dramatic increase in such opportunities as a result of cable networks, there is still a lot of competition for these jobs. The key to success is to have a career plan and to stay on track with that plan as much as possible. Of course, great opportunities can come out of left field, and you should grab them with both hands if they do, but you will still need to work them as part of a long-term strategy.

The first step on your journey to becoming a television anchor is to obtain a degree in journalism by majoring in broadcast journalism or some equivalent. Look for a college which has close ties to the industry and which has a track record of supplying entry-level employees to television networks. Television reporting and anchoring is a highly competitive field, and in order to land the best TV jobs, you will need to maintain good grades and get involved in activities which show a genuine interest in and commitment to the industry.

For example, as a journalism student, you should volunteer at campus radio stations, local community radio stations, and the campus television station (if your school has one). If you can fit volunteering into your busy college schedule, you will not only gain valuable experience, you will also build important relationships and gain helpful references that can give you an edge in landing the best possible jobs in TV.

Internships during college summer vacations are also an excellent way to gain experience in the television industry. Bear in mind, though, that the choice of internship can make a big difference to the opportunities that will become available to you when you graduate. For example, if you intern for a large television station running errands and making coffee, you will be far less prepared for television work opportunities than if you intern in a smaller local or regional station and are given opportunities to research, write, and report. Furthermore, small stations often rotate interns through different jobs so that they have insights into all aspects of television production. Some television anchors received their first on-air time during such internships because they were on hand to step in when someone was ill, late, or otherwise unavailable. There is nothing quite as effective as a tape of a genuine on-air performance to give you a competitive edge in your search for TV jobs.

YouTube provides a new opportunity to have your performances seen by thousands of people. Why not take advantage of this avenue for getting better known? You can have yourself filmed interviewing interesting people and upload these segments directly onto YouTube. When potential employers do an Internet search for your name, they will discover these little gems. In fact, if you develop an online following, potential employers may come looking for you.

Demo videos are also an important component when you're looking for an on-screen job in television. How you look in front of the camera, your confidence, and the image you present are all important elements which can influence a television station's decision to hire you as a television anchor or reporter. You can improve your chances of landing the sort of job you are aiming for by having a professional demo video produced.

Your first job in television is not likely to be as anchor. One of the best pathways to TV hosting jobs is to get into a small station with the aim of filling in for others when necessary. Working for a small television station is a great way to get to know how a television station works and to gain a good breadth of experience relatively quickly. If you choose this option, you will need to have a long-term career strategy in mind; otherwise, you can find yourself staying in one place for too long. However, if can move relatively quickly into a television anchor position, you can comfortably stay there for a while gaining experience before looking for the next logical career step at a larger station or network.

Television reporting is the first major step towards television anchoring. This involves traditional journalism as well as face-to-face interviewing on camera. You may be asked to do stories on farm animals, crops, the local fair, or a number of other topics you think aren't newsworthy and are a waste of your time. However, if you do your job with flair and even humor, you will find yourself getting noticed, no matter what the story you are stuck with. This does not mean that all small stations will show meaningless news stories, but the new person on the block often has to cut his or her teeth on some pretty lightweight reporting.

Find out what you need to know by asking questions. You can interview people who are already working as television anchors or television reporters. You can also learn a lot by reading biographical articles and books about successful broadcast journalists in order to discover their varying pathways to success.

If you are serious about seeking a career in television anchoring, you can definitely make decisions and take steps that maximize your opportunities for success. The industry may be competitive, but you can give yourself significant competitive advantages that will help you get where you want to go.
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