TV News Director Job Description:
A TV news director must be skilled at all aspects of news -- from how to get a story to how to avoid being sued. That requires a basic knowledge of media law in addition to being an expert at journalism.
If that's not enough, a TV news director also needs to be an expert at branding. Simply presenting stories isn't enough in today's competitive media environment. It takes market research and knowing how to reach the target demographics of your audience.
Salary Range for a TV News Director:
As market size grows, the TV news director's salary is often eclipsed by those of TV news anchors, especially if some of those anchors are considered "stars". A TV news director has to accept that some of her employees may earn more than she does, even though her job is likely more stressful.
Education and Training Required to Become a TV News Director:
No one starts a career as a TV news director without having a background in other jobs in the newsroom. While the most common career path is to work your way up from being a TV news producer, others may have been a TV news reporter or a videographer before getting the seat in the glass office.
A TV news director needs common managerial skills in handling a staff, budget and inventory of expensive television equipment. Additional training may be given in order to know how to organize and operate a department.
Special Skills Needed to Be a TV News Director:
A TV news director may be sitting in a department head meeting talking about budgets when she has to respond to breaking news by dispatching crews and getting someone on the air with an immediate bulletin. She must remain calm in the face of chaos because she has dozens of people to lead.
A Typical Day for a TV News Director:
But she still has to find the time to attend meetings, review resumes for job openings and fill out all the typical office paperwork that piles up on her desk. That's not to mention her telephone that's always ringing.
TV news directors face so much stress that it's common for many of them to only stay at a station for a couple of years. As they move up to larger stations, they have the luxury of having executive producers, managing editors or assistant news directors to share the workload. But in larger markets, the pressure to perform in the Nielsen TV ratings increases, so the stress never goes away.
Common Misconceptions about a TV News Director:
First, a TV consultant may be calling the shots or having a big influence in how the department is run. A consultant may have conducted market research or focus groups on how to build the audience, which may determine who gets the trip overseas.
Next is the station's general manager, who is over the news department and all other departments at the station. He may be the one who decides that the station can't afford to build a new anchor desk, based on the performance of the sales department, which is in charge of selling TV advertisements.
Finally, there's the audience to consider. The news director may secretly wish to get rid of a problem anchor, knowing the anchor's drinking problem is one of the top reasons for getting fired in media. But the news director knows there would be a viewer backlash, because the anchor is beloved in the community and has kept his drinking a secret.
Getting Started as a TV News Director:
Newscast producing experience is a vital skill to have to become a TV news director. That's because a producer is the manager of a newscast, making sure a long list of details receives attention and leading a group of anchors, reporters and production department workers into creating a quality newscast.
The reward in being a TV news director is knowing the department is yours, especially when ratings are up and your staff members are winning media awards. There's also the satisfaction in seeing someone you hired straight out of college grow into a top-notch TV journalist, even if that means saying goodbye as that person moves up to a larger city. That can make up for all the day-to-day headaches.