RTDNA and Reel Media Group hosted the first #AskANewsDirector video chat last week, with more chats scheduled each Thursday this month.
Students might master the basic skills they need to jump from J-school to jobs in news in the classroom, but skills like networking are crucial too. Designed to connect emerging talent with news directors, each #AskANewsDirector chat is an opportunity for new professionals in reporting to connect with industry leaders.
In the first chat, RTDNA board member and WCPO News Director Chip Mahaney fielded questions from an enthusiastic group of MMJs and reporters in their first or second jobs.
The question on everyone’s minds was how to stand out to news directors who may have hundreds of applicants for one position. “I want to win,” Chip said, so he’s looking for candidates who understand and can further the station’s goals. That means doing your research on a station before applying or interviewing.
Chip tackled more career questions:
Is it better to specialize in reporting or producing, or be able to do a little of both?
As you move up in markets, it is generally better to specialize, but when you’re starting out or looking to move up, news directors may be glad to know that you can help out in multiple areas.
How can MMJs in markets without much breaking news get experience doing live shots?
Practice, practice, practice. Even if live shots aren’t part of your day-to-day and won’t end up on air, practice shoots for your reel. Be prepared for a news director to ask you to shoot a sample standup if you haven’t highlighted any on your reel.
What’s the best way to follow up with a news director after applying for a job?
It’s ok to call, email, or tweet at a news director, but be prepared to get a response via their preferred platform. And news directors are busy, so be patient.
Chip also cautioned that many of the attendees’ questions would be answered differently by different news directors, which is why networking and building relationships with news directors is so important.
One more piece of advice: Find ways to meet recruiters and news directors in person, like at Excellence in Journalism 2017 in Anaheim, California this September.
New professionals are invited to join the next chat with Board member Kimberly Wyatt of WEAR on Thursday, May 11 at 7pm ET. Register for the Reel Media Group community at www.reelmediagroup.com/register. New and renewing RTDNA New Professional members receive for four months access included with membership. Access codes to the #AskANewsDirector chats are included in membership receipts.