Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Advice To Aspiring Entertainment Journalists

Throughout the year, I receive emails from broadcast journalism students and young reporters early in their career seeking advice and support in this industry.  It is a tough field that has become even tougher.  The explosion of internet media has quadrupled the talent pool in Los Angeles alone.  I used to audition with the same 30 people only a decade ago.  So, with more opportunities comes more competition and it is important to stand out in a field that is overcrowded with wannabe Giuliana Rancics and Ryan Seacrests.  

Ashley Woodrum from Z-TV contacted me via Twitter awhile back regarding her host reel.  I offered her some feedback and then she asked if I could answer a few questions for her.  I asked for her permission to use her name and her questions here on my blog because I think it is helpful for so many to hear the responses to what she is asking. So, thank you, Ashley, for inspiring this post! 

1. What made you want to be in the entertainment broadcasting industry?

Originally, I set out to work in musical theatre, so working in the broadcasting industry was never on my radar.  In 1997, I was hired to host a children's dance video on how to Electric Slide and Hokey Pokey based on my dance background.  The video (Yes, it was on VHS!) was a success and I received a few other host offers.  My work is really, really raw in that video, so I sought training with Larry Conroy in NYC to go along with my on-camera enthusiasm. I made the big move to Los Angles in 2000 to make my mark in the industry.  

So, my path was not a traditional one, but if you want to work in the entertainment broadcasting in 2012, here are a few recommendations:
     -Broadcast Journalism degree
     -Know how to write, produce, shoot, and edit your own pieces.
     -Be social media savvy:  this includes a Twitter, public Facebook, and Instagram account.
     -Intern anywhere you can to meet and network with people in the industry.
     -Find a mentor whom you can go to for advice and guidance.

2. If you don't mind me asking, how long did it take to really get your first full time job?

My first full-time job came in 2002 when I was hired as a network host for ShopNBC.  It was about 5 years into my career and 2 years into my time in Los Angeles and it required a move to Minneapolis.  While home shopping was not my dream job, it became such a valuable tool in terms of working with an IFB on live TV with a cue card only giving you 5 bullet points on each product you were selling.  My ad-lib skills are so strong as a result of this job.  

3.  What did you do to reach that goal of yours?

The person that changed my career was Marki Costello.  I began taking her host boot camp weekend in the Spring of 2001 and then I continued with ongoing classes throughout the year.  She is a tough teacher, but coming from a dance background, I was used to that type of teaching format:  perform, get constructive feedback, and then do it again the RIGHT way.  Now, Marki is an empire with multiple classes and boot camps all over the US, so I am not sure the focused individual attention from her is on the curriculum as much.  However, there are other great media trainers out in LA that I would probably recommend more now, yet I owe my career to Marki Costello.

4. Could you offer me any other advice in regards to employment? I know this field takes patience, but like I said I'm still looking for that one person to notice me! Sometimes I get a little disheartened because I work so hard, and have yet to have someone pick me up if you know what I mean.

All of the clichés are true here:  "Don't ever give up", "Believe in your dreams", and "Success is when opportunity meets preparation."  You have to know what makes you unique in a very crowded field.  What is the one thing that you get complimented on in regards to your on-camera work?  What do you have to offer an employer that no one else can bring to the table?  If you know what that is, you can work on enhancing that even more on your reel, your blog, and most importantly, your brand.  Even though this is a creative field, it is still a business, so think like an MBA student when it comes to your career.

Also, I find that creating a vision board with personal and professional hopes and dreams helps make my goals a reality.  I keep it in my walk-in closet where I can see my everything I want right in front of me several times a day.  It keeps me accountable for continuing to grow my career.  

5. Also lastly, I was wondering if you could look over my resume and maybe offer me some tips or advice on that? I understand you must be very busy but any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Yes!  Send it on over.  I am happy to help.  You have my email.  If anyone else wants to contact me with more questions, feel free to use the tab above, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook, or comment below. I would be happy to continue this discussion with you and other hosts/entertainment reporters.    

I also do coaching/mentoring sessions that run $100/hour.  If you mention this article, I will give you 20% off.  I am available for in-person consulting in the LA area or via Skype for those who are out of town.  


  1. Good advice. Although I'm currently working more toward a finish a kick ass project goal than general career advancement, making a vision board is on my to-do list. And the treat it like a business comment is spot on. Practical talents and a pragmatic approach are as vital in the arts as anywhere.

    1. The vision board has done more for my career and personal life than you would even imagine. It's such a great tool to make things happen. It holds you accountable.

  2. Noted. Have been mentally collecting things to put on mine so getting closer. Fall always means new start (or at least review) to me, I never quite got off the school calendar, even if I never quite got to all my classes ; )

    1. Haha! Fall really is a psychological beginning for us all. We never get out of that school mode. My vision board also needs a fall revision.


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