Jaime Fettrow-Alderfer’s Top Seven Tips for Becoming a Skilled Journalist

According to television news reporter Jaime Fettrow-Alderfer, becoming a skilled broadcast journalist takes
much more than just looking good in front of the camera. Here are her top seven tips for success:

 

1. Reporting: Never assume that you have the facts, or that you know something just because you
heard or saw it. Ask the dumbest and most routine questions too. Get everything you can on record
(where a source is willing to have information attributed to them).

2. Observation: Soak in everything you see and hear using all five of your senses so that you can
describe the story for someone who is not there.

3. Interviewing: Don’t rely only upon official sources. Speak with unofficial sources too. The people
standing around a story scene may have seen something important, and you never know where that
will lead. Don’t be afraid to ask them.

4. 4. Writing: Writing is the essential skill in the news business. It is communication. Writing skills
have deteriorated in recent years, which is even more reason to excel at it, because not enough
people write well. In most broadcast markets, there is a good chance you will be writing everything
you say on the air.

5. More on writing: Writing competent leads and stories is crucial, but the use of description takes it
to the next level. Use vivid descriptions and metaphors to take the viewer to the scene of the story.
Let the story breathe through the use of characters, descriptions, and emotions.

6. Ethics: Pause anytime you are asked to do anything that doesn’t feel right. Ask yourself, “What is it
that makes this feel uncomfortable to me?” When in doubt, ask someone else. It is much better to
ask beforehand than to have to defend your decision later.

7. Credibility: Credibility is everything, and it is always up for grabs. People can quickly forget the
good things you have done as a journalist or media organization if you make one mistake.

 

As the lines between print, broadcast, and online writing continue to
blur, remember that what works for Twitter may not work in the newsroom.