Tommy Farrell Jr. G'18

December 3, 2018

“The advice I have is to be a sponge. Soak everything in and ask questions.”

Tommy Farrell Jr. G'18
Tommy Farrell Jr. G'18

Tommy Farrell Jr. graduated from the Newhouse School with a master’s in broadcast and digital journalism [BDJ] in 2018. In January 2019, he will be a news producer for "Chasing News." Previously, Farrell worked for the "NFL Matchup Show" and Townsquare Media, and interned with Rutgers University.

How did you obtain your current position, and what positions did you hold before it? 

As of January 2019, I will be a news producer for the show “Chasing News.” I will be employed by 21st Century Fox and the show airs on weekday nights on My9NJ, Fox5NY, and Fox29Philly. 

I will be responsible for all stages of newscast development from story generation to control room production. It is a live-to-tape show and I will also be assisting the assignment editor in mining content to our talent. I will also write and edit VOs, VO/SOTs, teases and packages.

Prior to that, I worked in the Producers Department at NFL Films. I got that position by simply applying on the NFL Careers website. The ESPN NFL Matchup Show was looking for a former college football player with a communications background. My friend’s older brother held a similar position at NFL Films a few years ago and now he is a freelance producer for 30 for 30 Productions. To work this internship, you do not need to do it for college credit. Most of the interns here have graduated from college already. Though I’m an intern, in everything I do I am treated like an employee and have production assistant responsibilities.

What’s an average day like for you on the job?

An average day for me includes assisting in running the show’s Twitter account @NFLMatchup by posting NFL stat graphics, previewing content for the show, and teasing segments for the show. I also do a lot of statistical analysis by compiling notable data for each week of NFL games.

A main part of my job is watching film of NFL games and finding conceptual tendencies that we can possibly break down on the show—and being a former college football player, my football IQ aids in this tremendously. From time to time, I will also assist in editing segments for the show.

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current job?

Newhouse prepared me for this position because of the rigorous television academics. The daily steps in producing a television show, making a rundown in the Electronic News Production System [ENPS]—a television production operating system where you create your show rundown, scripts, graphics, etc—and choosing which content is best for the audience all go into making a sports television show, as well.

Producing a daily show is no walk in the park. It can be very stressful, but as long as you have a good team working together and communicating thoroughly, it will go a lot smoother. Producing at Newhouse prepared me for producing at NFL Films because I still use the same programs (Adobe Premiere, ENPS) and we focus on the importance of deadlines and accuracy.

Did Newhouse open your eyes to new professions or aspects of your field you may have not considered when applying?

I never thought I would fall in love with television production, but I did! For my first required internship, I chose WNDU-TV in South Bend, IN and that opened my eyes to sports production. Even the summer newscast class challenged me to be a successful producer, and it prepared me for this position.

What are some obstacles or misconceptions about your field that students ought to be aware of?

Just because you are a BDJ student does not mean you are going to be on-air talent. Be a sponge and take in all of the processes of broadcast and digital journalism.

What advice do you have for current or incoming students? Any classes or professors that you recommend?

I recommend taking classes with Professors Stomski, Deninger, Perez, Hayes, Tuohey, and Wenner. All of them have tangible experience in the real world that benefit your educational time at Newhouse. The advice I have is to be a sponge. Soak everything in and ask questions. Do not be afraid to jump outside of your comfort zone.