Skip navigation
Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Ethan Rector

Class of 2003, Bachelor's

After graduating, I spent way too much time hee-hawing about whether I wanted to do radio or television. Before I knew it, a year had passed and I still didn’t have a job in either field. I finally committed to TV, and luckily, ATVN alum (and good friend) Bryan Goettel helped me lock down the job he was leaving: Weekend Sports Anchor/Reporter at KOTA-TV in Rapid City, SD.

I could write a 200-page expose on my trials and tribulations at that station, but instead I’ll just get to the point: After about a year and a half, I decided that I didn’t want to be a journalist anymore (if you’d like to know me).

I took the LSAT in the fall of 2006 and left KOTA after 3 years in August of 2007 to attend Marquette Law School (which has one of the top sports law programs in the country). I recently completed my first year. 


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

In order…

1) Writing - I can’t tell you how many reporters I worked with in Rapid City that didn’t have a clue how to write in an active voice, let alone put together a cohesive paragraph

2) Shooting - Unless you’re shooting sports, please use a tripod. And unless it’s breaking news, take a moment and think about the type and number of shots you will need. Don’t just whip out the camera and hit record. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and effort with a little planning

3) Editing - This is where a good reporter becomes a great reporter. It’s not just about telling stories; it’s about telling them in an interesting way. If you can incorporate nat sound effectively, you’ll avoid putting the viewer to sleep.
First_job: Usually there isn’t much room to negotiate, but before taking a job, I would advise you to learn a little bit about the news (or sports) director at that station. You’ll learn much more (and become a better journalist) at a station that has strong leadership. A station with poor guidance can leave you feeling lost. 

What were your duties at ATVN? :

Sports Director 2001-2003
Sports Anchor 2000-2001, Fall 2003
Sports Reporter / Editor / Photographer 1999-2003

How did ATVN prepare you for your career?:

The experience taught me everything I needed to know to succeed as a journalist. It’s a chance to apply the principles learned in class in a time-sensitive environment that you’ll experience in the real world.

What is your advice to aspiring journalists?:

1) If you don’t LOVE journalism, then change majors - This isn’t an 8-5 job. You’ll work lousy hours for low pay, and may not reach the top until your 30s (or 40s). And even then, the hours will probably still stink. This is not a profession. It’s a life-calling.

2) Be Decisive - Opportunities are limited. You must know what you want to do and go after it.

3) Intern - ATVN is fun, but it cannot prepare you for what you will see in the real world. More importantly (I can’t emphasize this enough), you’ll make contacts. If you want to get anywhere in this business (and don’t kid is a business), you have to know people

Twitter Feed