Everyone takes a different path to their first media job. Some people land their first choice right out of college. Others need to apply to dozens of places before landing an interview. There’s not a perfect way to get the job you want, but it can help to learn from the experience of others. In our feature “How I Got the Job,” we talk to some of the best people working professionally in media about what they did to get a foot in the door, and what it took to finally sign the contract. This week: Evan Bell, photojournalist for KATU in Portland.
About a year after graduating. I went to school for history but had dabbled in editing and always had an interest in news production.
When did you first get an interview, and what was it like?
Very soon after applying. Being a small market, the reality hit home that you wouldn’t be getting rich but would have numerous opportunities to learn and gain experience.
When you moved on to your second job, what changes did you make to your job approach?
Not a whole lot. Just made sure to learn all the new systems and work flows. Highly important not to fall into the trap of feeling like you have experience and therefore do not need training.
What were some of the biggest changes you saw going from a small market to a larger market?
Truly just learning a new workflow and meeting a higher set of expectations. In a small market, it often feels like as long as you get something, anything, on air then everyone is happy, on a bigger stage, you had better make sure your scripts are sharp and editing very clean or you’re going to hear about it.
Looking back, is there anything you have changed about the process?
Most changes simply come from experience. Knowing a junk interview from a good one. Knowing the best ways to gather great sound/visuals and how to weave those to tell a great story.
The best overall advice I could give is that once you’re settled into your first job, seek out award winning reporters/photographers work and learn from them. See how they weave visuals, nats, interview sound and reporter track to make their story work. Be true to your subject matter and don’t take your viewers for granted.