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October 21, 1987 - Image 59

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-10-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

lucky-few can expect contracts in the
stratospheric range of Sawyer (an estimat-
ed $1.2 million), Jennings (approximately
$900,000) and the like.
Many experts see a sobering future
ahead. "There are fewer opportunities
at major stations," says Gary Cum-
mings, head of the broadcast program at
Northwestern's Medill School of Journal-
ism, "and no opportunities at the
networks, where the jobs are too special-
ized, too pressured, to allow them to train
you. Even the best people have to wait."
Those who don't want to wait for long
periods must scale down their ambitions.
"Go to Podunk," says Jerry Schmetterer,
the metropolitan editor at the Independ-
ent Network News in New York. "The
way up is to go where you are needed."
Beverly Jackson, 32, is a classic exam-
ple of someone who has climbed from mar-
ket to market. Now a producer for "West
57th," the innovative weekly magazine
show on CBS, Jackson worked her way to
New York through Toledo and Boston.
"I left the business for two or three
years," she recalls. "I was so frustrated
that things just weren't happening fast
enough." In Boston she began working for
WGBH, the award-winning public-televi-
sion station, and then for WCVB's "Alma-
nac," a magazine show. Jackson cornered
a CBS talent scout at a convention and
called him once a month for a year before
getting a job. "You really do have to pay
some dues," she says. "I've carried the

tape recorder, I've carried the
lights. This is a lot of hard
work. It's not glitz and candy
games, and people don't under-
stand that. What sells you,
ultimately, is the work. You've
just got to produce excel-
lent work."
When the networks do hire
these days, there's sometimes UN
a catch. Take NBC, which " / 0.
must gear up for the Summer
Olympics in 1988 as well as
the presidential campaign. For
those events, NBC will take on
hundreds of new people-but
not for long. "We're hiring, but
these are all temporary posi-
tions, and they all end on a
definite day," says Adria Al-
pert, NBC's director of person-
nel. She says the network con-
tinues to hire about 15 college JACQUES CHENET-NEWSWEEK
graduates on a permanent ba-
sis every year. Those individ-
uals fill the lowest jobs in the
company-fetching coffee, for
example-and Alpert concedes -
there is less upward mobility
than ever. One less congested NBC
avenue into the company may AIA T
be through its semester-long
internship program, which IT USED
uses 360 unpaid students each
year. There, Alpert says, "you
have an opportunity to show
what you can do." Getting a
full-time job after an intern-
ship is rare, but it happens.
Wildly different: Those who
hope to work on the tube
should not necessarily spend
time in college TV workshops.
The broadcasters who report,
write and select real stories RALPH ALSWANG
tend to have wildly different Tighter budgets and shrinking opportunities: ABC intern
backgrounds-except in two Levin (top), picketing at NBC in New York
respects. Many have liberal-
arts degrees and strong writing skills. For I look at a story because I see every
those keen to work on the technical side, aspect. Other people just want to get their
classes in production can help. But hands- three shots."
on experience is more valued than any- The most wide-open areas are on the
thing on a transcript, particularly since somewhat lesser-known fringes of the
the technology at most stations changes so broadcast-journalism spectrum. The new
quickly. "If you want a job operating tele- Fox network is expected to add news pro-
vision equipment, don't waste your time gramming by the end of the year. Inde-
as an assistant in the news department," pendent stations (those not affiliated with
declares Leonard Mogel in Making It in the the networks) are demanding more and
Media Professions (The Globe Pequot Press. more national and international news,
$14.95). "In many stations, because of and that, too, creates jobs. And whole new
union regulations, you may be prohibited areas, still little understood, may be open-
from operating the equipment." Camera- ing in unlikely places. Many corporations
man Mitchell in Tucson agrees. He says are seeking the video literate-both to
that nonunion jobs offer opportunities- communicate with employees and to push
he acts as his own editor and field produc- products by employing broadcast-news
er, for example-which more than make- techniques. The pivotal realization, ac-
up for far lower pay: "I feel secure when cording to Northwestern's Cummings, is

'Waiting lists are going to be longer': Sawyer


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