Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Morning show reporter: the NEW worst job in television news

Most of the emails I receive are from people wanting advice, usually about how to get out of a particular situation. Usually I can come up with some sort of answer.

But there's a dilemma for which there is no solution. If you're stuck being the live reporter on a morning newscast, it's like being in purgatory. You can't get yourself out. Someone's gotta pray you outta there.

Unless you have an agreement with your News Director about eventually getting off this shift, you're trapped. The big problem is this: you never, ever get to do a decent package showing up for work at two in the morning. You'll chase the scanner and stumble onto a big fire or crime spree once in awhile, but those wonderful enterprise stories you'll need for your resume tape just don't exist before dawn. About the only tape you'll be able to put together is one for... another morning show reporting gig.

I know a few morning show reporters who haven't done packages in more than a year. Every morning show reporter I know hates the job. The live shots are all basically the same.

Then there's your off the clock time. You have no life.

If you're offered a job like this think long and hard about accepting it. And if you do, you'll need something in writing that will eventually get you off the shift.

TVNEWSGRAPEVINE, copyright 2011 © Randy Tatano


konakafe said...

Hi I was looking at your websites and appreciate your insight/comments. What do you make of HR folks at tv stations in terms of getting through the door? Thanks in advance.

-The Grape said...

HR people are nothing more than beancounters. They simply log the names of people who apply and have zero, repeat, zero influence on who is hired for news positions.

If you are ever directed to send a tape to a HR person, make sure you get the News Director's name and address the cover letter to the ND.

Anonymous said...

Hey now, I'm a morning reporter and I love my job. It's a 4 hour long show and I cover everything from breaking news to the fun stuff. Once the show is over, I book 2 live shots for every morning and that's it. Sure, I miss doing packages, but I also love my job enough that the 2:30 am wake up call isn't terrible. And my mom paid a lot of money for these pearly whites...they need to get some air time :)

-The Grape said...

Well, it's good that you love your job. But how much will you love it when you have to look for another gig and the ND wants to see some packages?

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to believe that this is worse than being a morning TRAFFIC reporter.

-The Grape said...

Hmmmm..... traffic reporter. hadn't thought of that.

Though most times traffic reporter is a foot in the door to other things.

Little bit of trivia... Janice Dean, weathercaster on Fox, used to be Don Imus' traffic reporter.

TV News Mom said...

I really enjoy your blog, but I've got to disagree with this entry. I've been the morning show reporter for the past six years, and it's been a great way to grow my skills. My live shot, ad lib, and breaking news skills have grown by leaps and bounds. I've also gotten a ton of anchoring experience filling in on the morning show. I turn packages regularly for the later shows, which has made me a better, faster writer. I am now moving on to anchor our new 4pm show... a move I wouldn't have made without all the skills I gained working on the morning. Do I want to gouge my eyes out every time I wake up? Yes. Am I a walking zombie sometimes? Yes. Was it a dead end career move? Not for me.

-The Grape said...

Well, News Mom, good for you. (Six years on the morning show with children? Your husband now qualifies for sainthood.)

Andy Pederson said...

I've worked all shifts over my 16 years, and I prefer the AM, especially now that I have kids. I give up getting to do packages more frequently to spend several hours with my son. If I was dayside, I'd get about a 1/2 with him before he had to go to bed.

One good thing you can do with the AM shift is to make your live abilities better. You can learn to lose your script and just report. When you get a breaking news story that you love, don't give it up. Fight to turn a pkg for the noon, or at least the web. One thing we have seen on with our AM team is that we are super engaged with our viewers on our website, Facebook and Twitter. You have a real chance to connect with viewers and get your likes up on Facebook. As your numbers get up, your ND will notice and this will help next time your negotiate a contract.

Above all, YOU make your job bad or not bad. Sure, there will be days that you get no new news or days that you get crapped on. That happens in market #140 and market #1. Keep your chin up and good luck!

TheSweetestThing said...

wow, i've always wanted to do morning news but you've given me so much to think about now. in the smaller markets, the morning anchor usually turns a package for the noon show. can't a morning reporter do the same after all the liveshots?