How I Got the Job: 7 Questions Answered About Becoming a TV Reporter

Everyone takes a different path to their first media job. Some people land their first choice right out of college. Others need to apply to dozens of places before landing an interview. There’s not a perfect way to get the job you want, but it can help to learn from the experience of others. This week: Joe Little, a reporter for 10 News in San Diego, and master of the one-man-band standup.

What got you interested in a TV career?
I was a jock in high school and college. And, like most meatballs who need to be the center of attention, I wanted to be on SportsCenter. I loved Dan Patrick and wanted to be just like him.

Do you remember what you included on your first tape?
Depends on which tape you’re talking about. I made one to get into graduate school (and it sucked) and I made one to get my first job in Hagerstown, Maryland (and it sucked). I posted both videos on YouTube.

In your career, how many rejections did you get?
I saved them all. I think I actually received more than a dozen rejection letters. I think I didn’t even get a courtesy rejection letter a dozen more times.

What’s your advice for a reporter struggling to land their first job?
Besides sending your resume to employers, send your resume to mentors who can critique your resume. You may be doing it all wrong. But most importantly, never give up. Stay active. Interact with people via social media at the stations you are applying. Do anything you can to get your name on the desk of a News Director.

As you have moved up to bigger markets, what changes do you notice in the way larger stations look for reporters?
I don’t know if it’s exactly larger stations looking for something different. I think all stations are looking for employees who have multiple skills. You are screwed if you are a one-trick-pony.

In your experience, what are the things young reporters overlook about their tape, or in their search?
I think too many reporters aren’t realists. You’re not going to work in a top 50, maybe even a top 100 market out of college. Very, very, very few people do. Simple things don’t help either. Never put someone else on your tape (co-anchors, anchor tosses, other reporters, etc.). No one is impressed you interviewed a celebrity. Even fewer people want to hear the celebrity’s answer.

What was the one thing about a TV news job search you wish someone would have told you in college?
Don’t suck.

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