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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Alex Savidge

Class of 2002, Bachelor's

I worked as a reporter for KSAZ Fox in Pheonix and at KVBC in Las Vegas, the NBC affiliate here.  Before I went to Vegas, I spent two years working as a Weekend Anchor and Reporter at KESQ-TV in Palm Springs.  And before I headed out to the desert, I was working in LA for Cable Channel 35.  It’s a city cable station downtown that does a daily newscast.  I got that job right after I graduated from USC in 2002.  And of course at USC I spent a few semesters working at ATVN.  That pretty much sums up my time in TV news.


What are the top three skills journalism students should learn in college?:

1) Writing, of course, is key in our business, so focus on making your stories really come to life.  But keep in mind that you don’t usually have lots of time so learn to write quickly. Also, read those scripts aloud to make sure they’ll sound good coming out of your mouth.
2) Practice Editing while you’re still in school.  I learned the basics of editing at ATVN but I should have practiced more before I headed out into the real world.  It’s more than likely you will have to edit your own stories at your first job so you might as well be ready for that. 
3)Learn to listen.  What makes a great story is the details:  How long have they been married?  What color is the car she drives?  How much money does he make an hour?  Pay attention when you’re doing your interviews and even after the camera is off.  Sometimes your subjects can tell you so much just in passing...interesting information that can make your story really come alive. 

What were your duties at ATVN? :

At ATVN, I did a lot of different jobs.  I used to run the studio cameras and do audio when I first started out.  Later I anchored one of the daily newscasts and I also went out as a reporter. 

How did ATVN prepare you for your career?:

Working at ATVN allowed me to understand what it takes to put together a newscast.  Writing and editing stories for the show at ATVN helped prepare me for the kind of deadline pressure I experience every day.  If I hadn’t worked at ATVN where the story had to be completely accurate and done on time, I probably wouldn’t have survived my first real job in TV news. 

What is your advice to aspiring journalists?:

Be accurate, Be fast and always be confident in your abilities.  Also, be willing to make sacrifices when you first start off.  Everyone will tell you this, but you don’t always get to have your first job in the city of your choice.  Last bit of advice:  have fun no matter where you are.  This is the greatest job I could ever imagine, so enjoy yourself and it will show in your work. 

What should graduates keep in mind when negotiating their first job?:

First off don’t sell yourself short and give in to that first offer.  I made that mistake.  If you’ve worked at ATVN and have a journalism degree from USC, that news director definitely wants to hire you...I promise you that.  It won’t hurt to negotiate for more money, moving expenses, a clothing allowance, etc.  At least see if you can get them to pay for your make-up or dry cleaning as part of your contract.  Oh yeah, and get everything you agree on with the news director in writing.  They may seem nice and trustworthy, but you still have to look out for yourself.  It’s tough negotiating the first couple times around but be confident in what you can do and you’ll be fine. 

Any other comments?:

I have to say my reporting classes at USC taught me the basics of writing for TV and putting together stories.  Those are skills you need wherever you go.  I also think my first couple of months working in Palm Springs were good preparation for my current job.  When I first started there, I was going live three or four times a day and doing lots of breaking news.  I had to learn to think on my feet and ad-lib...and those are definitely important skills to have here in Las Vegas.  This is the kind of city where it’s not news if it’s not live.  I go live everyday here and I’m glad I got a lot of practice before I came here. 

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