Not everyone is going to like you. There, I said it. Well, hell, I don’t like everyone I meet. I once went into an interview for a reporting job and the interviewer told me I looked just like an ex-girlfriend of his. I didn’t get the job. It happens.
This business is subjective. And as a reporter, you get 20 seconds, maybe less, to make an impression. The viewer or the News Director doesn’t get to sit down with you, talk to you, get to know you better when you are occupying 20 seconds on his or her TV. Think about it this way, did you ever meet someone you thought was either unattractive or just OK-looking, but after you got to know them, they were much more attractive to you? TV news doesn’t give you that option.
You’d think that being able to do a great interview, write a compelling story, be aggressive when going after interviewees and uncovering facts would be enough – but no, this little medium we picked called TV isn’t going to let a good story get in the way of a subjective opinion.
That being said, I tell all my aspiring news reporters who take my class, being hot is not. Your mom may love you, and your boyfriend may think you’re gorgeous, but that’s not going to get you the reporting job of your dreams. What do reporters wear? Wear that. Don’t wear your skin tight dress that shows off your body, or pleather miniskirt (I kid you not, a client of mine once showed up to a demo reel shoot wearing exactly that, a pleather miniskirt.) You may look hot, but hot doesn’t get you the job in this business as a credible news reporter. Remember all those girls in high school who hated you because they were jealous? Well, they’ve gotten older but they haven’t grown up. Don’t give them a reason to throw your tape on the pile.
The most employable reporters don’t have anything that hits you over the head and stands out about them. That would get in the way of the story. Sure, there are plenty of attractive people on TV, but for women, to be successful, it’s got to be more of a girl next door beauty. I know I’m going to cause a lot of controversy for saying this, but I feel strongly about it. Here’s the thing, you can choose the way you want to look. And for so many, the advice is tone it down. The makeup, the jewelry, the outfits. Hell, I even have to tell myself this sometimes, because I love being a glam girl. But being a news reporter isn’t like being a Real Housewive, in any city.
Here’s a breaking news standup I did live – no time to prepare my script at all – and when I watch it, all I see is my ridiculously long flowing hair and earrings. It’s too bad. See, even the teacher learns sometimes.