I am fairly new to the industry and really enjoy being a news photographer.
Because I'm new, I am at part time, working odd hours/on-call and making under $10.00 hr.
I understand that I have to pay my dues and I'm fine with that. I just want to know what are some long term benefits being in this industry? Can I climb the ladder to become a reporter, producer, director? Is it better to go around the country working at different places or is it better to stay put and work my way up? Why is this career important to you?
Please let me know what you think.
I'll start at the end and work my way up.
This career is important to ME because it strengthens our country. A vibrant, agressive press/journalism segment of a free society vigorously exercising their First Ammendment rights is a win win for everybody. I also enjoy the challenge of telling the best story I can every day, regardless of the obstacles.
Personally, I think moving around too much is detrimental to the steep learning curve at every stop. How much is too much? You'll have to figure that one out for yourself. Take a hard look at yourself, then decide if you can handle it mentally, emotionally and physically to change locales every 2-3 years. If you can, go for it, if not, pick a region and try to put some time in similar, familiar environments.
Reporting is just too draining for me. I tried it for four months after school and was at my wit's end when it ended. Producers get abused more than anybody and directors seem to take on the attributes of a career factory worker after a while. But if you want to try it, go for it. The way the business is evolving right now, the more skillsets you have, the more employable you'll be. The future is a toss up at this juncture. I'm concerned about being forced to become a one man band after 30 years of shooting and editing. Still not sure what I'll do if that ultimatum materializes.
Long term, you should be able to raise a family and have some semblance of a normal life if you end up in a decent market and gain some seniority. And have a little fun every now and then. Even though they're high stress, long hours affairs, I've gotten to do some traveling covering post season college basketball over the years. The memories will last a lifetime, mostly good ones. Nashville, Memphis, Indy, Chicago, St. Louis, Albuquerque, Tucson, Philly, Atlanta, Orlando. St. Petersburg, Hartford (with brief side trip to Manhattan, shh) and probably a few more I can't remember right now. Many of these places I probably would have never been to otherwise. Your not going to get rich, so you better have fun every now and then. I've been other places and seen such a rich variety of things that words can not do justice. An Amish home in Southern Indiana. Shooting from a Bell Jetranger. Roaming Churchill Downs year 'round. Following a burley tobacco warehouse auction. Shooting a few sports hilights every so often (on OT!). And, most importantly, learning, knowing and remembering the details and nuances of your coverage area. I fear boredom if I decide to change careers.
Be discerning about the difference between paying dues and getting abused. I can't tell you the difference, you'll have to be alert and pay attention to your superiors and their relative interaction with you and your co-workers. TV stations seem to be crappy places to work, but of course, that's all relative. Try to find the least crappy station in a market you really like and do whatever it takes to stick there.
The thing that helped me the most early in my career was joining NPPA. I saw the possibilities of the craft throught them, and I believe I'm still employed in the business because of my exposure to the TV members' award winning work. I strongly advise you to do the same. Make plans to go to Norman, OK for The Workshop. It's worth any cost, hardship or sacrifice you have to make to get there.
Hope this helps, good luck to you in the future.