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Preparing to become a TV correspondent or reporter can take many years of dedicated effort. Education and work experience are often key factors in landing a first job as a correspondent. Developing skills and personal qualities, such as writing ability, on-camera skills, and journalistic instincts, can also help an aspiring journalist become a TV correspondent.
Many, though not all, professional TV correspondents have an undergraduate degree in a related field. This may include degrees in journalism, communications, or mass media, as well as some writing degrees. Attending a college that offers a strong broadcast journalism program may be useful for any student who wants to become a TV correspondent. Those who do not possess related college degrees may be experts in a particular field, such as economics, entertainment, or government, and often have graduate or doctoral degrees in their specific area. These correspondents may be hired only to report on stories that relate to their area of expertise, and may work on a freelance basis.
Work experience is critical to any person who wants to become a TV correspondent. Reporters must be familiar and comfortable with the stress and fast-paced world of television journalism, and be able to maintain calm in difficult situations. Aspiring correspondents may gain work experience through internships, summer jobs, or entry-level positions at television stations. On-camera experience is often obtained through jobs at college or community TV stations, which may welcome new on-air reporters with less experience.
In addition to formal education and professional experience, research, practice, and training may also help a person become a TV correspondent. It may help to watch news broadcasts daily, to get a sense of how reporters craft and present news stories. Many correspondents also undergo training or classes in vocal technique, posture, and performance, in order to perfect their reporting mannerisms. Finding the heart of a story, writing engaging reports, and presenting them in a responsible and interesting manner on camera are also developed with time, training, and practice.
In order to become a professional TV correspondent, a journalist will usually need to go through a lengthy interview process. Many job interviews start off with the candidates submitting a reel of their past on-air presentations, as well as a resume of their training and work history. Reporters may then go through a regular job interview with employers, as well as on-camera tests that measure performance skills. Since correspondent jobs are highly competitive, a new reporter may go through dozens of interviews with different broadcast stations before finally landing a job. If a reporter has worked at the station as an intern or assistant, he or she may be able to gain an edge over the competition.