Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The market size myth

If you've ever seen the Gene Hackman movie "Hoosiers" about a small town basketball team, you've gotten a subtle message about television news markets.

Toward the end of the film Hackman takes his team to the state championship. The day before the game he walks them around the court, takes out a tape measure and shows them that the basket is still ten feet high and a foul shot is still fifteen feet. It is the same, whether you're playing in a backyard or on the world's biggest stage.

The same holds true for television news. A package is a package, whether it is done in market 210 or at the network. In each case you still need good video, nat sound, strong writing and creative editing. Along with solid reporting skills, of course.

So it makes me shake my head when so many young people think they have to start in a tiny market, or can only jump a certain number of markets for their second job. I'm not sure if college professors are telling kids they have to start really small, or if it is simply a myth that is so old it has become reality to some.

The truth: plenty of people have gotten their first jobs in New York or at the network. If you're talented, the sky's the limit. You have absolutely nothing to lose by sending your tape to any station. Limiting yourself to markets 100-210 can only set you back two years if you truly have talent. You may eventually end up in a small market for your first job, but you may not.

The same applies for a second job. If you can turn a package with the best of them, once again, take your best shot.

The rules of broadcast journalism don't change from market to market. I've seen great products in tiny markets and horrible ones in large markets. The business is getting younger, as veterans see the handwriting on the wall and bail out.

When someone tells you you have to start small, don't believe it. When you're told that maybe you can make it to market 50 in your second job, fuhgeddaboudit. I've heard so many people talk as though market 50 is some sort of utopia; trust me, many times it isn't much better than market 150.

Talent knows no age or experience. If you've got it, aim high.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am a product of that. I just graduated from college and got a job in market 95, Baton Rouge. I consider myself lucky but my friend got a job in West Palm, another one got a job in Waco, TX. We were taught don't expect to get in the 100's but if you do work hard!!! So it's possible...just keep at it!