By Hannah Paczkowski, Guest Blogger
Hello fellow Titans! Are you looking to start a career in the broadcasting industry? Well, you’ve come to the right place, but there are a few things you need to know before you start applying for jobs.
I grew up in the Midwest my whole life. I graduated high school in Waterloo, IA. I made the 12-hour trek to Westminster College and really made it my home away from home.. This is where my life began (so I thought).
I was a very active student at the “Dub C.” I participated in many organizations like SGA, Greek Life, SWAT, Editor-In-Chief of “The Holcad” and the list goes on and on. Most importantly, I stayed involved in the broadcasting department. Like many of you, I had a regular radio shift, held every kind of position on the County Line, and wrote for the web. Along with classes, I thought this was as stressful and chaotic as it could get, right?
Throughout my time at Westminster, I had four internships. After my first year, I interned for my local radio station. Then, after sophomore year, I had my first TV internship at WKBN/WYTV in Youngstown. During winter break junior year, I interned at WHO-TV in Des Moines. That next summer, I worked in WPXI’s web department in Pittsburgh.
Now, by this point, I thought I’d be able to get a job with no problems. Anyone would want me, right?
WRONG. Hannah, you were oh so wrong.
During the second semester of my senior year I vowed to have a job by graduation. For four months, I applied to every local TV station in the country. Each night, I would pick a state on the map and Google “TV stations in (insert state here)”. After 150 applications and emails, I finally got a call from KLKN-TV in Lincoln, NE. Again, only ONE out of 150.
I graduated May 18, 2013. I started my job May 23, 2013. Talk about a quick trip!
At KLKN, I started as a reporter. Growing up and in college, I always thought working in TV would be this exciting and glamorous life. It’s exciting, but not terribly glamorous.
One common misconception is that local TV people make a lot of money. Starting salary for many stations is less than $25,000 a year before taxes. When you factor in rent, food, car payments, random expenses, and those pesky student loans, you have just enough for a pack of gum from the Casey’s General Store by the end of the month.
Another is that we have a person to operate our cameras for us. Most stations won’t even look at you if you don’t know how to shoot and edit your own video. To be honest, it’s best to one-man-band your first year as a reporter. It really makes you appreciate your editors and photographers down the road, and it helps you see what you’re writing to.
You think you’ll be able to live a normal 9 to 5 life? Good one. Many reporters work weekends, graveyard hours, or 12-hour days. Sometimes you get lucky and get to work day side, but that won’t last forever, my friends.
As a reporter, you’re sometimes put in awkward positions. On my first day, I had to knock on a mother’s door right after she lost her 17-year-old son in an accident. Seeing someone go through that kind of pain in the most public way can be very hard, especially when you’re new to the game. Thankfully (and maybe unfortunately) that gets easier, it can start to change you, make you a little more cynical. Don’t let that happen. You can push aside your feelings, but you still need care about what you’re doing and who you may be helping.
Don’t let this deter you from the news business. There are a lot of wonderful things you get to do too, and I don’t mean cat fashion shows. The best story I ever did was on a young woman working in Nebraska who is from France. She lost her passport, but didn’t think much of it. Then one day, her mother choked back home and was on life support. The woman, Talissa, wasn’t going to be able to get home to say goodbye without it. After my story aired, a man called saying he had her passport. They met the next day, and a few hours later, Talissa was on a plane. If it weren’t for my story, she would never have been able to say goodbye to her mom before she passed.
July 2014 I was promoted to my dream job, AM/Midday anchor for KLKN-TV. Lincoln is market 105 and amazing place to jumpstart my career. It’s been a challenge to wake up at 2 a.m. and be pretty, but it’s been an overall good experience so far. Channel 8 has been a great place to work, and I’m so lucky I get to stay here a little longer.
The best piece of advice I can give you is to work as hard as you can. Come in whenever your boss asks, always ask to be critiqued, and never, EVER give up. It’s a hard road, but if you try hard enough and really go the extra mile, it’s possible to do whatever you want in this field.