New Job. New City. Now What?

March 3, 2020 12:00

Even more than 15 years later, I vividly remember the weekend before I started my first reporting job after college.

I had just moved to Florence, Ala., hired to run a bureau for a station based in Huntsville. After setting up my apartment, my new-job excitement quickly turned to panic:

On Monday, my station would expect me to pitch story ideas at the editorial meeting. And I barely knew anything about this place I now lived.

What on earth could I offer as a legitimate story idea?

Anyone who has worked in this business  – an industry where you sometimes move to a new city before you finish unpacking in the old one  –  can relate. New reporters are frequently confronted with the challenge of reporting on a community they've barely spent time in. That's why I asked this question on Twitter:  The responses came fast and often, proving many in the TV News business could relate to this stranger-in-a-strange-land reality of getting a new job in a new city. But the solutions offered a clear way of speeding up the process of learning your new area and better serving your viewers.

Below, I've included 25 of the best responses, which feature two very common themes:

1) You don't get to know your new city inside of your apartment or house. Get out and explore!
2) Use your mouth...and your ears. Talk and listen to the people in the community. They're your best resource.

My ideas:

* Drive. Spend a Saturday driving around. Learn where everything is. Brainstorm story ideas. Stop & chat.

* Keep a rolodex. Anyone you meet, get a #/email. Never know when you'll need 'em.

* Find the 'lifers.' Someone who's never left that area? Walking encyclopedia! 

More of the best ideas from Twitter:

Cody Butler,TV Reporter, WILX (Lansing) 

Miranda Christian,TV Reporter, WPTV (West Palm Beach) 
Tanner Ayres, Producer, WKRC (Cincinnati) 
Rebecca Delgado,Communications Specialist, Lee Health 
Melea Van Ostrand, Digital Reporter, Veritext Legal Solutions 
Sarah Breuner, Producer, KCRA (Sacramento) 
Stephen A. Ostrosky, Asst. News Director, WHAS (Louisville) 
Yostina Banoub, Reporter/Producer, KITV (Honolulu) 
Kyle Harvey, Reporter, KUTV (Salt Lake City) 
Angele Anderfuren,Senior Lecturer, Northern Arizona University
Julie Parker, PR Consultant 
Crystal Goomansing, Global News, Europe Bureau Chief 
Neki Mohan, Anchor/Reporter, WPLG (Miami) 
John Brown, Political Correspondent, KTVI (St. Louis) 
Alia Blackburn, Anchor/Reporter, WTHI (Terre Haute) 
Jeremy King, Corporate Communications, RegionsNews 
Sharon Tutrone, Broadcast Journalism Lecturer, Coastal Carolina University 
Emily Bjorklund, Reporter, KAUZ (Wichita Falls) 
Len Jennings, Anchor, KMBC (Kansas City) 
Mike Baker 
Jade Jackson, Reporter, KTAL (Shreveport)
Briana Conner,Anchor/Reporter, WXII (Winstom Salem) 
Connor Spielmaker, News Editor/Content Producer, CNN 
What else do you do to learn a new market?

Jeff Butera is a news anchor at WZVN-TV in Fort Myers, Fl. He is also the author of "Write Like You Talk: A Guide To Broadcast News Writing," available for purchase at