My alarm is blaring. It’s 5:30 AM. Why? Why? Why?
Every Wednesday, I crack open my eyes before the sun is up. I have a 7:00 AM broadcast and digital journalism (BDJ) course. I’m not even a broadcast student. I’m in the Magazine, News and Digital Journalism (MND) program, but I decided to take this course as an elective. You may be wondering: why subject yourself to a 7:00 AM-11:00 AM course that you’re not required to take? I ask myself this every Wednesday. And while sometimes I struggle to find the motivation to jump out of bed, I try to remind myself of all this class is doing for my career and future. So to all my fellow print journalists, here’s why I recommend you take a broadcast journalism class:
1. Make yourself more marketable
The journalism industry is cutthroat, so anything you can do to beef up your resumé will help you find a job in the long run. Being “just a print journalist” is common, but if you develop multimedia, broadcasting, and live reporting skills you’ll be a unicorn. You’re a more valuable asset to many media companies who have had to expand beyond print into digital operations. Yes, you can write news articles. But you can also produce video, host livestreams, and write scripts with some broadcast television experience. If a company can get an employee that can cover many bases, they will.
2. Expand your writing skills
Writing for broadcast television is different than writing for a newspaper or magazine. You have shorter time on the air to convey all the necessary information and it needs to be cohesive with whatever visuals you are using. There’s also a need for more conversational writing between the anchors and the reporters. The writing needs to be concise and allow breathing space for the anchors reading the script; there’s a specific rhythm that’s required in script writing. If you’re a newspaper journalist, you likely have never had to write in this style. Taking a broadcast course will teach you to transform your writing from one medium to another.
3. Try your hand at video
Taking a broadcast television course will allow you to develop your editing skills in a new way. Newscasts are edited differently and have a particular format you need to follow. If you’ve produced multimedia journalism pieces already, why not add newscast packages to your portfolio?
4. Network to get work
You’ll meet new people, new professors, and learn about a different industry in a different Newhouse department. That all sounds terrifying, but it’s also challenging and
has its benefits. This could be helpful in the long run when you’re job hunting. Always work to expand your network. The folks you work with in your broadcast journalism course might end up being valuable connections.
5. Think on your feet
When you are writing an article, even if you’re on a tight deadline, you can always go back and edit. You can reorganize an article’s structure and while you’re researching and reporting, you’re already planning in your mind how you’ll craft the final product. While some parts of a newscast allow that, there’s also a little something called live reporting. You’re thrown into the action, no script, on the scene, and have to improvise what you’ll say based on your reporting. It’s nerve-wracking. But it teaches you to think on your feet and that’s a skill worth having inside and outside your career.
Follow Adriana on Twitter @AdrianaRozas.