My first job after college was as an on-camera reporter for a local station in New York City called NY1. I learned so much in this position, working as a one-woman band to shoot, edit, write and produce daily pieces.
In this post, I highlight what I learned from the role. I hope my insights can help you with your career if you’re a journalist or content creator!
starting as an on-camera reporter
My first position after grad school at Columbia University was as a fellow at CNN. From there I moved onto my first job as a reporter in New York City. I covered news in Queens, Staten Island and Bergen County, New Jersey.
Every day on the job I’d either have an assignment or get assigned first thing in the morning. Then I’d pick up a station vehicle and a camera and hit the road. Here are my biggest takeaways.
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connect with the community
Connecting with community is key for any type of reporting. If you’re a local or beat reporter then this is the geographical area or niche you cover. Community isn’t just location – it can be any group of people. You can find communities through interests, you can find online communities – but most importantly, define the community and then connect with it.
As a local reporter, for example, the more I connected with the geographical communities I covered the better stories I found to tell. I made more connections, I became more comfortable and confident. Becoming an expert on your community or niche is key.
master the basics
For my first job I focused on my shooting, editing and reporting. But I spent even more energy on two things: writing and technology.
I knew I needed experience and time to grow on-camera skills, but writing was something I saw as immediately essential to being a good reporter. The stronger my writing, the better I would sound and appear, and the more my work would make sense to our audience.
Mastering technology also took up a lot of my time. I devoted energy to learning different cameras and figuring out new editing software. This made me more efficient and improved the quality of my work – it paid off.
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network and grow
Meeting people at and through the station was great. I was able to grow my skills by learning from other journalists. I asked their advice, always wanting feedback.
There’s nothing quite like hands-on experience to fully understand a job, and if you can also learn from others who previously had your job, then all the better.
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appreciate your first job
There were times when being an on-camera reporter and a one-woman band really were a challenge – tough stories, being on the road alone, driving in snowstorms while trying to make air. But all of the obstacles I overcame increased my confidence as a reporter.
There may be times you feel unworthy, like you’re never going to succeed. But you will. Don’t give up. Keep going. You could very well encounter a good amount of criticism at your first job, and when you do try to take what you can from it. Can it help you grow? Although difficult to hear, is it advice worth listening to?
It’s easy to forget to appreciate something while you’re in the middle of it. But looking back I am so grateful for every job I’ve had – without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.