TV News Internships
Earlier this week, I received an email from a Lakeland High School senior in Rathdrum, Idaho, enrolling at the University of Idaho to major in journalism next fall semester. You are writing a research article titled “Why Choosing Your Future Career Is Right for You?”
He listed 25 questions, such as “What prompted you to choose the profession?”, “How many years of studies did you spend?”, “Who was your inspiration?”, Etc. Question number eight was a common question that I receive. , “What are your recommendations for someone considering this profession?”
My answer? Apply for an internship.
This is how most producers, photographers, reporters, and presenters get their first job. The absolute best way to start your journey into the world of television journalism is by working as an intern.
It’s your first honest way to take a look inside a working newsroom and understand how the television business works. Many of the things you learn on the job are not necessarily what you learn in the classroom. Not everyone who works in television news graduated with a degree in
The good news is that most television stations in the country offer internships. The bad news is that most, if not all, are not paid. But I promise you that the lessons you learn and the people you meet will be invaluable in the future. And here’s a little fact, it sure is about what you know, but sometimes, it’s more about WHO you know when it comes to landing your first paid position.
In addition to not getting paid, you will be doing jobs that no one else wants to do. Plan to answer phones, listen to scanners, record videos, and transcribe word-for-word interviews that reporters conducted earlier in the day – things that don’t involve sitting at the presenter’s desk or holding a microphone.
To get started, simply call or physically go to your local television news station and fill out an application. Do not call the newsroom and ask for the chief presenter’s news director. You can call the newsroom and ask if they accept the request and if they can point you to the right person to speak with. If you’re willing to move, you have over a thousand TV channels to choose from. There are more than 200 television markets in the country, each broken down by household.
For example, the number one market in the country is New York. New York has an estimated 7.5 million television households, representing just over six and a half percent of the country. Moving down the list after New York are Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Washington DC, and in the top ten is Houston, Texas.
The size of the market depends on how many TV households there are in that specific city. Spokane, Washington is the 75th market with about 419,000 television households. To give you perspective, the smallest market in the United States is Glendive, Montana with 210. It has fewer than 4,000 households with televisions. Number 209 is North Platte, Nebraska with just over 15,000.
In most cases, each city has at least three television news affiliates; ABC, CBS and NBC. You will also find FOX and CW. Unless you live in New York, you won’t find CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News.
Another requirement to apply for an internship is to be enrolled in the university. I had three internships during college and for each internship I earned college credits, 3-6 credits.
So if you want to be the next Peter Jennings or your hometown general assignment reporter, the best way to start is by getting an internship and seeing firsthand what happens in a real-life newsroom.