What does it take?

What does it take to make it to the top of your game in news?  What is it that makes that journo stand out from the rest? What is it that gets them hired above everyone else?

It’s something I’ve been asked a lot lately and it’s had me thinking about what I would look for and what is of importance in the digital world.

Despite a seismic shift in the industry over the past 18 months, there are still jobs to be had within radio newsrooms.

There may not be as many as in the ‘good old days’ but there are still opportunities available and the competition is fierce for that spot in the hot seat.

As a news director, there were the obvious elements I’d look for as I weeded through the applications and air-checks.

·       a reasonably good or trainable voice

·       an ability to write cleanly and concisely

·       an interest in what’s happening around you

·       enthusiasm for the job

·       social media savvy

·       a broad general knowledge

As to the last point, I’m fairly certain I got my start at Triple M in Melbourne because I unknowingly shared an interest in the Kennedys with the then News Director. From memory, my interview focused mainly on the book I’d brought along for the train trip from Geelong.

The turn-offs were numerous, but in a nutshell:

·       anyone who saw the gig as a ‘stepping stone’

·       poorly written copy (that really does affect your read)

·       poor attitude

·       sloppy presentation

·       arrogance

·       poorly presented aircheck/demo

But that was then and this is now.

So much more is expected of any prospective candidate and of those already working within a newsroom.

Radio journos need to bring a lot more to the table than ever before and with newsrooms downsized or closed all together, we all need to operate ‘smarter’ and to a degree, ‘sell’ ourselves.

So what will set prospective candidates apart in the current climate?  Having chatted with a few News Directors across the country, here’s the general consensus:

·       a greater understanding of social media

·       a greater understanding of digital platforms

·       adaptability; especially if required to provide content to more than one market

·       an even broader general knowledge

·       an understanding of target audience

·       an ability to alter writing style to suit demographics

·       be app friendly

There’s no denying journalists these days have a tougher road to travel to attain their goals. Above all else, perseverance is paramount.

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