A practical guide to becoming a broadcast journalist

Becoming a reporter, news anchor or journalist takes special skills and training. Read & hear the advice of Trint CEO and founder Jeff Kofman (CBS, ABC, CBC).
February 25, 2019
Telling good stories as a journalist


Where do you get your news? Journalism is always evolving - digital disruption is transforming newsrooms across the globe - but one thing's for certain: Americans still prefer to watch their news. Broadcast journalism is no dying breed. Almost half of Americans tune in for their global updates - whether that's through the Internet or their television provider.

Why do we still love broadcast journalism so much? It's accessible, familiar and reliable. You've probably got your favorite station or website to take in the news, right? And maybe even a favorite news anchor, too? Broadcast journalism - via our televisions and radio stations, and via the World Wide Web - is thriving, while - with a few exceptions - print is in decline. We can access broadcast journalism around the clock in the digital age. It's no surprise that broadcast journalism is an attractive career prospect.

What do broadcast journalists do? We're glad you asked.

It takes a village to bring the news to the world. From news anchors to story producers, video editors and sound engineers as well as reporters out in the field, the world of broadcast journalism offers a fascinating range of careers. There are researchers and runners keeping the machine moving behind the scenes, so if you want to be that sparkling smile sitting in front of the camera - or the microphone on the radio - you'll need to put in some serious groundwork to earn your time to shine.


If you want to get into broadcast journalism, we've put together this practical guide, informed by our very own Jeff Kofman, Emmy award winning war correspondent and foreign correspondent.


1. Nurture your passion

Trint's CEO and founder Jeff Kofman knows just what it takes to get to the front of broadcast journalism. With more than three decades of journalism under his belt - including time as a foreign correspondent and war correspondent in the field - Jeff has lived the transformation of the newsroom.

What does Jeff say is the most important quality of a journalist? Passion. 'As far back as my early teens, I remember being fascinated by the news.' Jeff told us. Being the fourth child in the family, his parents were a little more lenient with bedtime: 'In those days the nightly news in Canada was on at 11 p.m. and I loved staying up to watch it. I was also an avid newspaper reader from a young age.'

Listen the audio of Jeff's advice:



What to do: Keep up with current affairs. Immerse yourself in news.


2. Knock down the doors

It's not enough to just love journalism. As a competitive industry - especially broadcast journalism - you need the experience to back your passion, and a drive to break into the industry no matter how many 'no's' you hear. On getting his start in journalism, Jeff remembers the hustle vividly: 



What to do: choose your study wisely. The most well-travelled path into broadcast journalism is through school, so choose your major with care. Take a leaf out of Jeff's book: get involved with extra-curriculars. Join your school, college or local newspaper and radio station, actively pitching stories that will excite and engage your peers. If there's something to say, be the one to say it. Reach out to any and every broadcast news outlet you can find, without ego. Sometimes the smallest newsrooms will give you the biggest boost.


3. Forget your ego

You might have dreams of being a foreign correspondent breaking stories overseas, but this kind of gig won't just land in your lap. Your first step in the door won't be a leap, so be content with keeping your ego in check, getting the coffees for the team and doing some jobs that don't fit the bill of your dream career.

What to do: apply for intern positions at any broadcast newsroom or radio station or online news organization. You could also opt for some unpaid volunteering work to get a feel for the place and establish some real life experience - the insight will be invaluable.


4. Network, network, network

You've heard this one before: It's not what you know, it's who you know. In the world of broadcast journalism your connections will get you through some very important doors, so it's important you nurture them. Like Jeff, make sure you're involved in local projects. You never know, your investigative work for the university radio station could land you a meeting with someone very influential. Treat every person you meet as an important connection, and always be willing to help out on stories, even if you find them dull. Sooner or later one of these connections will come through with the goods, and your hard work will pay off.

What to do:  take this one at its word: network!


Journalism intern jobs are a great place to increase your skill set

5. Stock your toolkit, sharpen your skills

There's a whole range of tools that can help you be the best broadcast journalist you can be. It's a tough career to crack, so be ready to hit the newsroom armed with everything you need to handle the pace. There's nothing worse than being unprepared, and not everyone will be able to take the heat, so make things as easy as possible on yourself.

In a competitive job market the candidates with deepest skillset will stand out. Technical skills matter. Aspiring journalists who know how to shoot video and edit video stories and podcasts will have a huge competitive edge.

What to do: get some reliable recording equipment to capture those all-important interviews - and sign up for transcription software from Trint. Designed and led by a veteran broadcast journalist - you know Jeff already - Trint is your secret weapon in speedy transcription, taking the pain out of manually transcribing your conversations. Sign up for a free trial


6. Get stuck in

Wanting to work in broadcast journalism is one thing, but actually getting experience writing at pace and at length is a big challenge. Create content for yourself. Launch a blog or an online website where you document local stories, or anecdotes about your experiences with journalism, that could be helpful for other aspiring broadcast journalists.

The most important skill: writing. You need to master clean, casual writing. Jeff's pet peeve? What he calls 'ten-dollar words' - those fancy words people add to sentences that are meant to sound knowledgeable but have no meaning.

What to do: start by launching a blog that follows your journey into journalism - the trials, the successes and the honest truth. This will be valuable content for anyone looking to follow the same path, and will show any newsroom that you're serious about what you do. Show off a bit. Don't be afraid to go it alone.



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