Spotlight Feature: Finding a TV Job - Part I: The State of TV
About a week ago, I had the opportunity to talk with a blog reader who wanted to be find a job in TV. This individual worked in radio, like myself, and thought making the transition to television would be interesting - inspired, in part, by what he hears from reading our Director's Cut Blog.
I also find myself talking to students from Kent State University and Cleveland State University who are in the building as part of their studies to learn from us.
I've wanted to do an article on my thoughts about this and think the time is appropriate, with a little thought.
While I don't discourage anyone from getting into this business, I do offer some caution to those who wish to work in this field. Television is evolving and becoming more and more difficult to survive in.
I first saw this trend about 12 years ago when the FCC issued the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This single act was the death sentence for radio. Shortly afterwards, major corporations like Clear Channel, AMFM, Radio One, Educational Foundation and plenty more began to gobble up every station they could find - and thus the Clear Channel monster was born. Fortunately, Clear Channel might not survive.
Television on the other hand didn't find itself in that position back then. I think the huge cost of stations prohibited massive consolidation. Today, there are some large broadcast companies, like Gannett (WKYC's parent company) but these companies are limited to ownership caps that this and other TV companies have been fighting for years. Recently, some legislation allowed cross ownership between TV and newspapers in some markets under the right conditions.
We haven't seen much change so far other than the Tribune deal with Sam Zell.
The bigger threat for TV has been the internet. You have heard me say time and time again that TV must evolve to compete with the web and co-exist with it. While broadcast TV won't go away anytime soon, the dynamics are changing in today's newsrooms.
Basically, think WEB first. It's where the growth potential is - and where the big advertising will wind up. Advertisers are no longer spending freely on broadcast TV like that have in the past.
What does this mean for people wishing to get into the business now? You must be flexible, versatile and web knowledgeable. Journalism programs like Kent State's drive home the point that producers will write for multi-platforms, each requiring a specific set of skills and talents. Directors will switch, direct and work on the web...as well others in each department.
And don't expect to get rich working in the business anymore. The high paying jobs are becoming as extinct as high paying jobs in manufacturing. They aren't being outsourced - they are being given to younger people entering the business at much lower rates of pay than their predecessors. Only talent continue to make the dream money. And even that dynamic is changing as stations tighten their money belts during tough economic times, like now.
The business is not all doom and gloom. It certainly has its perks...great people to work with, new technology to tackle, and a media that is evolving into something unknown really. No one quite knows where broadcast TV will be in 5 or 10 years.
So think carefully about the pros and cons of committing yourself to a career in TV.
In Part II of my feature, I'll share some thoughts about how to get noticed by the managers who do the hiring.
Disclaimer: The thoughts in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of WKYC or Gannett.
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