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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

How to Make it in Television


Although I won't be able to attend the class field trip to ABC7 tomorrow, I thought I'd put together a list of questions for newsroom staff to see what it takes to make it in TV.  Considering I'm graduating in exactly one month (less a day), it's time I start thinking about the finer points to help me on my way after I leave USC.

I keep hearing a lot of talk about putting together reels and websites.  I have a wealth of experience doing live TV both at ATVN and at my various commitments at Trojan Vision. What advice do professionals have in selecting material for a reel, and how does someone make it "flow"?

It's always interesting to hear about how people get started in the business--I'm one of these people who likes to learn by example.  How did they get their start, and--with the way the journalism business is these days--would they recommend starting the same way now?

People have set job descriptions for each of their roles--producer, director, anchor, reporter, etc.--so something else I'd like to know is how much of the other positions they've had to do along the way.  Has, say, an anchor or reporter had to act as a producer for a day?

I've had plenty of practice with it with my experience in the producing class, but I'd like to pick a producer's brain about their news judgment and their decision-making process.  Is there a set formula?  John Cyrus Smith, one of our faculty supervisors in the newsroom, said in an interview that the "producer is the quarterback of the newscast."  And I'd like to know a bit more about their process.

Moreover, since I'm just about to start in this business: what advice does a professional have for a person just starting out?  And what should someone look for as they're looking to move onward and upward in the television business?

And I like this question, simply because it'd be interesting to see what certain people will say: knowing what you know now about the television news business, would you still go into it?

As for me...well, I'm keeping that off the record for now.

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