Ari Meltzer is a juris doctor candidate at Georgetown University Law Center. Before turning his attention to the law, Ari produced live interviews with top newsmakers for ABC News/Good Morning America. His segments ranged from front page political news to updates on natural disasters to the lighter side of Washington. Prior to joining ABC, Ari spent two years as a Washington-based producer for Tribune Broadcasting (owner of several WB, Fox, and ABC affiliates, including eight of the top ten markets). This followed a stint at the 6 p.m. producer for WPSD-TV, the NBC affiliate in Paducah, KY (market 76).
ATVN positions and duties:
Ari was a member of the original student management team, spending a year as ATVN’s sports director. Some simple coaxing convinced Ari to jump over to the news side, where he worked as an Executive Producer and Washington Bureau Chief.
How did ATVN prepare you for your current job?
No class at USC could have prepared me for the job market like ATVN. My boss at my first station told me the ATVN resume tape is what differentiated me from other producers. Having hands-on training is crucial, and ATVN gave me more hands-on training than my four internships combined.
What is your advice to aspiring journalists?
This is not an easy industry, but it is rewarding. Think long and hard about your priorities in life and the reality of the news business. If this is really what you want, go at it with full force, because there are thousands of other students out there doing the same thing as you, so you’re going to have to be special to stand out from the crowd.
What are the top three skills college journalism students should be working on in order to be prepared for their first broadcasting job?
1. WRITING (which really could be all three). That means paying attention to active verbs, short sentences, and telling a complete story.
2. PRESENTATION. You’re in an electronic news medium, so presentation is as important as the information itself. If you’re on-air, that means working on your vocal inflection, facial movements, and hand gestures. Things as simple as how you hold your microphone can determine whether a viewer is paying attention to what you’re saying or not. For producers, think visuals and pacing. This is your chance to experiment with new things and find a format that works for you.
3. IDENTIFYING YOUR VIEWER. Consider your audience when you’re putting together a story or a whole newscast. Know your demographic and find ways to tailor your stories to them without compromising your journalism. Ask yourself what you are doing to stand out in the minds of your viewers.
What is the most important thing a college journalist should know when he or she is trying to negotiate his or her first job?
The most important things you are going to get out of your first job are experience, guidance, and connections. Find the station that offers you the best mix of all three. The money will come down the line, but this is your paid graduate education. You are going to want to feel comfortable with your boss, but also find someone who is going to be honest with you and help make you into the best journalist they can. DO NOT SIGN A LONG TERM CONTRACT! With just one year of experience, your market value will jump considerably. Don’t sell yourself short by getting locked into a multi-year contract.
What prepared you most for your current job?
Practice, practice, practice. I used ATVN as my outlet to try new things and make my mistakes. This helped me bring a confidence into my first job that helped me succeed. From there, it’s all about reviewing your own work and watching other people’s work to see what you can do better.
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