My Experience As A TV News Reporter And Why I Left
"Making a big life change is pretty scary. But, know what's even scarier? Regret."
"Choose a job you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life."
1. Why did you leave Television News?
2. What are you doing now and will you go back?
These are the two most popular questions I get asked since graduating from college just over a year ago. I completed some major soul-searching after making one of the hardest decisions in my life thus far. I am finally ready to talk about it.
I have my same long, and well-rehearsed answer for both. When in reality, I could answer them all with one sentence: I learned to always follow my passion as that leads to my happiness.
On the surface, the title "News Reporter" sounded pretty amazing. But inside I had a feeling something was not right. No matter how much I loved the journalism field, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being limited.
First, I would be stuck in one location. Starting out as a broadcast news reporter means going from a small town to the next small town until you get to a bigger market or your first "big break." Well, I never wanted to be the next big news anchor like most of my classmates did...so why did I have to take this usual path?
Second, I was worried about not having control over my time or life. As a news reporter, you don't have much flexibility since the news never sleeps and you have your same shift everyday plus more. I didn’t want to live under those rules.
Third, you have to have to LOVE traditional news and I only liked it. One of my mentors in the broadcast industry even told me, "You seem much more passionate and comfortable in your "Red Carpet Reports" than your "News Reports." I absolutely LOVE everything about music and entertainment, so I knew this was something I needed to pursue even if I wouldn't be on air right away.
Don't get me wrong; I still love everything about television news, the media, and being a reporter. I would go back into television in a different role, but I don't have interest in traditional news as a reporter. My passion better aligns elsewhere.
I did love the nervous rush of energy you get right before your live shot. I loved how quickly I learned to turnover a story. I loved interviewing a new person every shift. I loved learning something new every single day; it was never boring. But, most of all I loved the feeling when the day was over and I would reflect on what I could improve for tomorrow.
It took me a long time to realize that ultimately, the rush of the day wasn't worth the burnout that stayed with me. As a news reporter, you never really have a day off. I spent my "off time" constantly searching for new story ideas and getting prepared for my next shift.
I decided my plan to be an on air news reporter for a few years then make the move to California to pursue entertainment was not going to be the best for me. Journalism is forever changing and traditional news is not the same. I needed to go into the field I liked whether it be on air or not and work my way up in my OWN way.
My Realization: Rewind to my senior year when I got hooked on investigative reporting because of an inspiring professor in my independent study. I joined our Target 8 team and was developing in-depth stories that I would be able to use for my resume and job interviews. Finishing off the year, I started applying for my first real news reporting job. I had a killer cover letter, awesome resume, creative reel, and a professional website. So what was the problem?
Instead of feeling eager about receiving a call back for interviews, I felt the opposite. I experienced something I never had before: anxiety. I did not know what to do and I truly felt lost. I just went to an amazing college and worked my butt off for my degree at the number one journalism school, so why wasn't I excited to start my job?
It finally hit me after speaking to that same professor I looked up to. I will never forget how the conversation went something like this:
Me: I have my last round interview this week before they invite me up to visit the station!
Professor: That's great, but Brittany, you would not like Pasco, Washington. It is smaller than my hometown and where I reported. I know that it wouldn't fit you.
Me: Well, you know everyone has to start in a small city out of college. I don't have many other choices that get me the closest to California.
Professor: Yes, that is true...but why don't you aim for more of the Seattle area before you try to go to California. You should go apply to one of those stations.
It was after that conversation that I finally discovered this is not what I want to do. I had no desire to sign a two year contract just to get my foot in the door, in a small city without knowing anyone. Would I even have time to make friends with the crazy work hours I would have? How long would I be working in small towns until I could be where I wanted to be? Is the constant burnout worth it? Do I want to wait until I am 30 to have a good career and live where I want to be?
I had always been set to move back to California to pursue entertainment after my first contract was up. My main goal is and has always been to have a journalism job in entertainment or the music side. Traditional news is completely changing and I want to be on the emerging side of it. I decided I can and will work my way up to that in my own way.
After staying all summer after graduation to work at the station and do job interviews, I returned home. Despite my parents wishes, I went back to figure out what to do with my life. It wasn't an easy decision to make, but I'm glad I went through with it. After some time, I developed a new plan to pursue my dream job and I've never been happier.
Do you know what your goals are to find your happiness in your life? Are you struggling with post college depression?
Okay...my apologies that this first blog post is getting lengthy. I've been wanting to write out this story for a long time now and just have so much to say!
My next blog post will explain my post college funk and how it changed me for the better.