News Anchor Job Description:
I anchor the 5, 5:30, 6 and 11pm newscasts. As an anchor, I write news stories, proofread stories, sit in on editing sessions and help make editorial decisions for the newscasts. If I get a news tip from a viewer or a police source of mine, I’ll suggest that at our daily editorial meeting. Occasionally I still do reports and investigative stories. I still enjoy reporting because I believe that the best anchors are great reporters.
Most weeks I do promotional events, charity events, sign autographs, shake hands and meet people before or after our news or even on the weekends. It is a lot of PR, but you have to get people to watch. If people meet you in person and get to know you, they might say, “She’s really nice, I’ll watch her newscast.” This is a very competitive business; you have to get out there and meet people so they get to know you on a personal level.
How did you join the ranks of TV news anchors?
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I took my first radio/TV class in high school and thought I might do news for radio. Then I went to Northern Kentucky University and enrolled in radio and TV classes. As soon as I set foot in a newsroom, during an internship at a station, I knew that working in TV news was what I wanted to do.
After I graduated college I needed a break, and a Fox affiliate here in Cincinnati was launching a morning show. They hired me to be a writer and a field producer. I wrote for news anchors and set up stories for the feature reporter. During this time, I was still working on my resume (on-camera) tape for future on-camera positions. I got my first reporter position in South Bend, Indiana for the Fox affiliate there.
A year later, I moved to Dayton, Ohio, and worked for the NBC affiliate. I was the evening reporter and did stories for the 6 and 11pm newscasts. I was trying to get back to Cincinnati, but it’s hard to find a job opening when there are only 3 or 4 stations in your city. And maybe they already have enough women, and they’re looking for men. Maybe they have enough blondes, and they want a brunette. It's competitive.
I stayed in Dayton for two years and then moved to Charlotte, North Carolina and worked at the NBC affiliate there as a reporter. I often did crime stories. I was getting offers in larger markets than Cincinnati, but wanted to move back to Ohio. Finally, I got an offer for a reporter job in Cincinnati at WLWT-TV.
After working as a reporter, I was promoted to weekend anchor. A short time later, I was promoted to the 5pm news, Monday through Friday. So I anchored the 5pm broadcast and worked as a news reporter for the 11pm news. Today, I anchor the 5pm, 5:30pm, 6pm and 11pm newscasts.
Do you have any advice on how to become a news anchor?
In this day and age, going to college helps. Typically, you need some sort of broadcast and journalism background. You need to have good writing skills. You also need to be persistent. When I was first starting out, I was turned down a lot. My dad was trying to get me to go into nursing or teaching. He would tell me, “If you teach, you’ll have the summers off to be with your kids.”
Internships during college are also great! They allow you to really see what goes on behind the scenes and how hectic things can be. You see what it’s really like, because, until you’re in a newsroom, you really don’t know. Plus, working and writing behind the scenes can give you the confidence and comfort to work in front of a camera.
In my first job, I earned $14K a year and had to work a second job as a bartender. I worked the morning shift, Monday through Friday, and picked up shifts bartending on the weekends; so you can't expect a lot of money at first. For people just starting out, they may want to check Medialine.com for job listings.
Can you recall any news anchor bloopers or memorable moments?
In South Bend, Indiana, I was interviewing a choir and I fell off the risers, live on TV. I’ve had people knocking into me during a live report! On the serious side, anytime I have to do a story where people die, like kids, that’s the hardest part.
I went to ground zero after 9/11 and reported; that was heartbreaking. That was the biggest story I ever covered. It was awful; parents looking for kids, husbands looking for wives. You have to build up somewhat of a wall, but I’m human too.
What is the employment outlook for TV news anchors?
There are more jobs these days with 24-hour news, stations extending their news, more morning shows, more opportunities. But you have to be willing to move and take jobs outside your city or town. It’s like being a school teacher and wanting to work in a specific school district; it can be tough if you insist on staying in one city or only want to work at one particular school. In the beginning you have to be open to behind-the-scenes jobs, other stations, and different markets or cities.
What factors can affect news anchor salaries?
A small market (city or region) pays a lot less than a bigger market with more viewers. In Cincinnati, a reporter might make 40K-70K. In South Bend, Indiana, the pay is around 18K-20K. The bigger markets, for anchors, can pay 100K-400K+. You start low and work your way up. We’re not like engineers who get paid a set rate when they come in. You can’t expect a lot of money when you are first trying to break in.
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