From the Newsroom to the 35th floor: My Transition into Public Relations (Part 1)


Today’s guest post is by Peppercomm account executive, Ali Hughes.

WILX“What on earth will you do in the real world with a degree in English?” Those were my mother’s exact words when I changed my major from Journalism to English. To be honest I don’t even remember my response, I just let my love of reading and writing lead my way.

Then graduation came and the inevitable job search. As I pursued job postings on “Pure Michigan Talent” having moved to a new state with my law-school boyfriend I couldn’t help but hear my mother’s words repeating through my head. After a few days…weeks… ok two months of blissful baking, reading, “Netflixing” and job searching, I found one that match my lack of experience and eagerness to earn money. News Writer: Part-time, overnight hours. The interview was pretty quick, once my soon-to-be boss learned I would be happy to work part-time and any hour possible.

With an English degree you would think writing for the news would be a piece of cake, and in some degree it was. What isn’t easy is being thrown into producing a full show within two weeks and having to learn television news programs, news room lingo, and timing all while writing. I was the new weekend morning show news producer, fresh out of college and still not sure what SOT (Sound on Camera) stood for.

My third weekend of producing the hour long morning show, I had a live shot scheduled at a marathon. For those of you that don’t know, a live shot is where a reporter is going live from an event and producer “tosses” to them from the control room. Between timing the show and the live shot being a few seconds behind, timing can get tricky. Long story short, my live shot consisted of runners at the end of the show, with my anchors having no time left to say goodbye or even explain what the audience was watching.

You would think messing up a live shot would be a fire able offense, (despite never being told how to actually pull one off) but my boss just said oh well, next time. I quickly learned that I had to teach myself everything when it came to producing, otherwise be thrown into something never being taught. After two months I became a full time producer, producing the weekend morning news shows (shift midnight-8 a.m.) and the 10 o’clock Fox news cast during the week (shift 2 p.m. – 11 p.m.)

The hours were exhausting, despite sleeping in a cave it is simply weird to sleep during the day and be awake at night, especially when your shift changes after the weekend. I learned how to somewhat successfully shoot a live shot, without cutting off the anchors or reporter. I also learned that my boss would gladly pay me as little as possible for the most amount of work I was willing to do.

It was my first job out of college, and I was quickly learning the way the world worked (at least in the news industry.) My colleagues who had been at the station for years, and were producing-wizards were consistently talking about “the good old days” of great pay and fair treatment. Being a few producers short became a common thing, since most people who want to be in the news industry want to be on air. At some point I found myself producing shows at back-to-back shifts. Producing the 10 o’clock show on a Friday night, and then staying at the station an hour until my 12 a.m. shift for the weekend morning show. It was one of those sleepless nights that I wondered… “What have I gotten myself into?”

To be continued…

Categories : Career Advice



[…] you can imagine from where I left off in my last post, television news is not as glamorous as most people think. Everyone has their favorite anchor, or […]

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