A Reporter Reel That Stands Out… In a Good Way!

Let’s face it. Getting a job as a reporter in TV news is tough. Even in a media world where TV news is not as dominant as it once was, there are still dozens of resumes that come in for every opening. The competition is fierce.

Good. It should be tough to get a reporter job. It requires a lot of skills:  great writing, an ability to ask insightful questions, building sources, being able to quickly adapt to multiple situations, and perhaps most importantly, an ability to find out why something is important and why people should care.

The vast majority of resume reels I see these days contain nothing of the sort. So, you’re good at breaking news, huh? Then why do I have your live VOSOT from the 5pm news that has you standing (likely far away) at a crime scene, talking over generic video, throwing to a 15 second bite full of “cop speak”, and a live tag promising “I’ll have more details tonight at 6?”

There is NOTHING special about that. ANYBODY can report on that type of breaking news. What I want to see is a story that illustrates what happened, and WHY it happened. What are you using at your disposal to show that to your viewers?  It could be your live location, it could be the video you are using, or it could be the person you interviewed.

Sure, go ahead and create a 1:00 montage at the beginning of your best live reporting. Just make sure it’s not full of clips of you standing outside a darkened courthouse, or other empty building. Likewise if you are moving around—don’t show me the 3 steps to nowhere. Make your live shots have a purpose.

The stories you include in your reel are just as important. Believe me, I can tell which stories are handouts from the desk, or from a press release.

Rule of thumb: if someone is standing at a podium in front of a bunch of microphones, I don’t want to see it on your reel.

I want to see the following:

-How you can enterprise stories based on your ideas, or contacts that you have developed.

-Can you take a mundane topic, and turn it into something interesting and relevant to my life?

-Can you go beyond “just the facts” and get to the heart of WHY something is important?

Creativity and inventiveness counts. But, ultimately, I just want to know if you can meet those objectives and tell the story clearly.

There are plenty of places where people can get their news. What you need to show me, is that you can deliver something that people can’t get anywhere else. Do that, and you WILL get a call.


Matt Kummer is the  News Director at WBAY-TV, the ABC affiliate in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

He has more than 16 years of experience in television news, with experience as an EP, producer, reporter and photographer in several markets.

You can contact him at mkummer@wbay.com, or on Twitter @mattkummer .