No Experience Necessary

I still subscribe to TVJobs. That’s the web service that acts as a classfied ads service for journalists looking for jobs in television. I subscribed shortly after I left the news business last summer.

Every day I check the new listings, hoping to find something that interests me. In the past 9 months, I think I’ve seen one job that fit my experience and was in a place I wouldn’t mind living in.

My eyes widened a bit last night when I saw the NBC affiliate in Birmingham WVTM seeking a reporter. Birmingham is my home market and one where I always wanted to work.

Here’s the rub: The NBC owned and operated station in the 40th largest market in the country, is looking for a reporter with 1 year experience. 1 year. They basically are saying they will settle for a neophyte reporter who will work for low pay.

Where were these jobs when I was first trying to get in the business 18 years ago? In 1987 I interviewed at NBC-13 while I was an anchor/reporter for another NBC station in Florence, Alabama. The news director was very pleasant, invited me to stay the day to ‘see how they do things’, but I didn’t have enough experience to work in Birmingham. He suggested I continue working as an anchor/reporter in Florence and work my way up through the markets until I was ready to work for him.

How times have changed. Older experienced reporters are being forced out of the business because they make too much money, and stations go after the 24 year old reporters with little or no experience, but who will work for food.

Do you think the viewers notice?



Filed under Misc.

4 responses to “No Experience Necessary

  1. Anonymous

    I may have sent this twice. If so, sorry.
    Can you say “bottom line”? Corporate can and often times does. Time was, experience and skills counted for something. Now, they’re practically looking for nothing but warm bodies. They don’t need to have any working knowledge of the market or state. They’ll teach you what you need to know. As Don Henley so accurately stated so many years ago “You only have to look good, you don’t have to be clear.” They need warm bodies to help fill up the newscasts which are used to sell time locally. They figure they can get a kid who is dying for some on-air experience for a couple of years and who will then move on to another market. It’s like a final push to make as much money as they can before broadcast TV as we know it falls to the wayside to make way for cable and the internet. Do I think the viewers will notice? Yah, they will. Will they care. Not really. Fewer people are tuning in to local stations. They are not “must see” anymore. If you miss the news on the nightside, tune in to the morning show for 15-minutes, any 15-minutes and you can find out what you want to know plus you’ll get to see the weather twice.

  2. mike

    “Do you think the viewers notice?” Unquestionably. And those old enough to remember when age and experience were desirable qualities wonder what the heck happened. Locally, I think only WMC can honestly say they have the in-the-field experienced reporters who know the city and the players. Miscreants get away with a lot more when the folks covering them don’t know enough to know where to look.

  3. mike

    I’m wondering why they still pay big money for anchors? Why not just get “presenters” like the British? Folks whose major skill is to read a teleprompter well, but who may have only minimal “news skills.” They’re way cheaper and let the extra money pass through to better reporters. Or just let the reporters take the presenter chair in turns, to get experience for their next market.

    The presenter just sets up the major stories, in a list, then briefly introduces each story as s/he hands off to the reporter who is expected to carry the load completely. Wrap, seque, next story. Dump all the graphics, the presentation froufrou like reporters waving props, the teasers, all the marketing garbage. Maybe have a small chyron at the bottom saying “Next story: Robbery in downtown.” to let viewers know what’s coming up. Bare bones, like a web page. I’d watch a newscast like that.

  4. jamey tucker

    I think I’d watch that newscast too.

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