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College Press Journalism

Jobs for College Press Journalism Students

Nature of the Industry

Goods and services. The broadcasting industry consists of radio and television stations and networks that create content or acquire the right to broadcast prerecorded television and radio programs. Networks transmit their signals from broadcasting studios via satellite signals to local stations or cable distributors. Broadcast signals then travel over cable television lines, satellite distribution systems, or the airwaves from a station's transmission tower to the antennas of televisions and radios. Anyone in the signal area with a radio or television can receive the programming. Cable and other pay television distributors provide television broadcasts to most Americans. Although cable television stations and networks are included in this statement, cable and other pay television distributors are classified in the telecommunications industry.

Industry organization. Radio and television stations and networks broadcast a variety of programs, such as national and local news, talk shows, music programs, movies, other entertainment, and advertisements. Stations produce some of these programs, most notably news programs, in their own studios; however, much of the programming is produced outside the broadcasting industry.

Establishments that produce filmed or taped programming for radio and television stations and networks—but that do not broadcast the programming—are in the motion picture industry. Many television networks own production companies that produce their many shows.

Within the broadcasting industry, 73% of workers were employed in television and radio broadcasting, with the remaining 27% in cable broadcasting. Cable and other program distributors compensate local television stations and cable networks for rebroadcast rights. For popular cable networks and local television stations, distributors pay a fee per subscriber and/or agree to broadcast a less popular channel owned by the same network.

Working Conditions

Hours. Many broadcast employees have erratic work schedules, sometimes having to work early in the morning or late at night. In 2008, workers in broadcasting averaged 35.8 hours a week, compared with 33.6 for workers in all private industry. Workers in television worked longer hours than those in radio broadcasting. Only 7% of employees work part time, compared with 16% for all industries.

Work environment. Most employees in this industry work in clean, comfortable surroundings in broadcast stations and studios. Some employees work in the production of shows and broadcasting, while other employees work in advertising, sales, promotions, and marketing.

Television news teams made up of reporters, camera operators, and technicians travel in electronic news-gathering vehicles to various locations to cover news stories. Although such location work is exciting, some assignments, such as reporting on military conflicts or natural disasters, may be dangerous. These assignments also may require outdoor work under adverse weather conditions.

For many people, the excitement of working in broadcasting compensates for the demanding nature of the work. Although the industry is noted for its high pressure and long hours, the work generally is not hazardous.

Occupations in the Journalism Industry

Occupations at large broadcast stations and networks fall into five general categories:

Program production occupations. Most television programs are produced by the motion picture and video industry; actors, directors, and producers working on these prerecorded programs are not employed by the broadcasting industry. Employees in program production occupations at television and radio stations create programs such as news, talk, and music shows.

Technical occupations. Employees in these occupations operate and maintain the electronic equipment that records and transmits radio or television programs. The titles of some of these occupations use the terms "engineer," "technician," and "operator" interchangeably.

Radio operators manage equipment that regulates the strength and clarity of signals and the range of sounds of broadcasts. They also monitor and log the outgoing signals and operate transmitters. Audio and video equipment technicians operate equipment that regulates the volume, sound quality, brightness, contrast, and visual quality of a broadcast. Broadcast technicians set up and maintain electronic broadcasting equipment. Their work can extend outside the studio, as when they set up portable transmitting equipment or maintain stationary towers.

Television and video camera operators set up and operate studio cameras, which are used in the television studio, and electronic news-gathering cameras, which are mobile and used outside the studio when a news team is pursuing a story at another location. In both cases, cameras are evolving from tape to disc-based formats. Camera operators need training in video production, as well as some experience in television production.

Master control engineers ensure that all of the radio or television station's scheduled program elements, such as on-location feeds, prerecorded segments, and commercials, are transmitted smoothly. They also are responsible for ensuring that transmissions meet FCC requirements.

Technical directors direct the studio and control room technical staff during the production of a program. They need a thorough understanding of both the production and technical aspects of broadcasting. This knowledge often is acquired by working as a lighting director or camera operator or as another type of broadcast worker.

Network and computer systems administrators and network systems and data communications analysts design, set up, and maintain systems of computer servers. These servers store recorded programs, advertisements, and news clips.

Assistant chief engineers oversee the day-to-day technical operations of the station. Chief engineers, or directors of engineering, are responsible for all of the station's technical facilities and services. These workers need a bachelors' degree in electrical engineering, technical training in broadcast engineering, and years of broadcast engineering experience.

Sales and related occupations. Most workers in this category are advertising sales agents, sometimes known as account executives. They sell advertising time to sponsors, advertising agencies, and other buyers. Sales representatives must have a thorough knowledge of the size and characteristics of their network's or station's audience, including income levels, gender distribution, age, and consumption patterns.

Sales work has expanded beyond the traditional role of simply selling advertising through a wide range of marketing efforts. For instance, stations earn additional revenue by broadcasting from a business, such as a dance club. Businesses also sponsor concerts or other promotions that are organized by a station. In return for sponsorship, the businesses usually are allowed to set up a booth or post large signs at the event.

Continuity directors schedule and produce commercials. In doing so, they take into account the time slot in which a commercial is to be played, as well as competing advertisements. For example, two car dealership advertisements should not be played during the same commercial break. Continuity directors also create and produce advertisements for clients who do not produce their own.

Large stations and networks generally have several workers who spend all of their time handling sales. Sales worker supervisors, who may handle a few large accounts personally, supervise these workers. In small stations, part-time sales personnel or announcers often handle sales responsibilities during hours when they are not on the air.

Management occupations. General managers, or station managers, coordinate all radio and television station activities. In very small stations, the manager and a bookkeeper may handle all of the accounting, purchasing, hiring, and other routine office work. In larger stations, the general administrative staff includes business managers, accountants, lawyers, personnel workers, public relations workers, and others. These professionals are assisted by office and administrative support workers, such as secretaries, word processors, typists, and financial clerks.

News-related and program production occupations. Entry-level jobs in news or program production increasingly are requiring a college degree and some broadcast experience. About 1,300 institutions offer programs in communication, journalism, and related occupations. As of 2008, more than 100 schools were accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. Some community colleges offer 2-year programs in broadcasting. Broadcast trade schools offer courses that last 6 months to a year and teach radio and television announcing, writing, and production.

Individuals pursuing a career in broadcasting often gain their initial experience through work at college radio and television stations or through internships at professional stations. Although these positions usually are unpaid, they sometimes provide college credit or tuition. More importantly, they provide hands-on experience and a competitive edge for a candidate who is applying for a job. In this highly competitive industry, broadcasters are less willing to provide on-the-job training and instead seek candidates who can perform the job immediately.

Job Outlook for College Press Journalism Students

Keen competition is expected for many jobs, particularly in large metropolitan areas, because of the large number of job seekers attracted by the glamour of this industry. Job prospects will be best for applicants with a college degree in broadcasting, journalism, or a related field, as well as relevant work experience, such as work at college radio and television stations or internships at professional stations.

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