From classroom to newsroom: Start learning skills earlier

November 28, 2011 photog blogs

If you’re about to graduate, it may already be too late!  OK, that’s an exaggeration, but reporter Allison Croghan says getting a job in TV news is easier when you start earlier than you may think.

“I wish I would have been more hands-on earlier in my undergraduate studies,” says Croghan, who is a reporter for KSN/KODE in Joplin, Mo.  ”I wish I would have started writing/editing my freshman year.”

Croghan says she didn’t start doing much on camera until her senior year.

“When I was meeting with potential employers before graduation, a lot of them told me I just needed ‘more reps’,” Croghan says.

She had a chance to do a two-week intensive reporting class at Ole Miss before she left school, and she thinks that made a big difference.

“I think all journalism students need to have a course like that — just a couple weeks of solid reporting every day– you’ll quickly learn what you can do,” says Croghan.

Whether or not that class is an option, Croghan recommends getting involved in student media opportunities and registering for multiple internships.

She also has some solid  job-hunting advice.

“I met with news directors during my senior year spring break, brought them a copy of my DVD and watched it with them,” says Croghan. “I took notes about what they liked, what they didn’t like.”

She used what she learned to create a portfolio website and found that many places she applied asked for an online link to her work.  Croghan says the news directors had definite ideas about how they wanted a reporter’s work showcased.

“All of them liked the round robin of stand ups in the beginning (and stressed the importance of making sure they are quick hits, about 5 seconds each with no more than 30-45 seconds of stand ups). Then I had two packages. My resume tape was less than 5 minutes.”

It’s good to know that, in the midst of all the change in journalism, the tried and true format for a resume’ reel hasn’t changed much at all.

From “Classroom to Newsroom” is part of an occasional series we will post about recent graduates making their way in the news business.