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Five Things You Want To Know Before You Become A TV Journalist

Want to be in the news biz? Well, prepare yourself. The road is a rough one.

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Prepare to be poor


You are not going to go from college journalism class to Barbara Walters’s status. There is going to be a good two to four years where you are going to live on the poverty line, eating Ramen Noodles and newsroom food, followed by another two of just getting by pay. Realistically, unless you are something special you will not exceed $50,000 annually until you have been in the business for close to eight years. So save when you can, don’t make expensive splurges and prepare yourself for the poor house.

Flood the market


Yes, we would all like to get our first jobs in Miami or in New York City reporting on hard hitting investigative pieces, but the reality is, that’s not going to happen. You will most likely have to start somewhere like Cedar Rapids, Iowa or Mobile, Alabama. So when you start applying for jobs flood the market. Apply to everything, everywhere, or else you are probably not going to get a job.

Take all the advice you can get


Many journalism majors get out of college and think they know how to make beautiful TV, when the reality is, you have no idea. The one month you got to put your story together in college will now be cut down to one to two hours, if you are lucky. So ask for help. Don't be proud, you know nothing.

You are just a warm body


This is a competitive business. If you won’t take the $20,000 starting salary there is someone right behind you that will. You are easily replaceable and until you build a name for yourself or you become exceptionally good at your job you will most likely be treated like a warm body filling a seat in the newsroom. It does get better, but the earlier you are aware of the poor treatment you will likely face, the better.

Be prepared to work…a lot...but get ready to have one awesome job


You will work overtime and you won’t get paid for it. Even if the schedule says you are working 9am to 5pm you will finish your day when the story is over. Whether that is 6 or 9pm. You will be expected to go above and beyond because the news really never stops. However, this job gives you access to some of the most interesting people, exciting happenings and thrilling stories you will ever be a part of.

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