After six weeks into my internship, the initial excitement of working at a television news station has simmered down just enough to allow me to put things into a healthy perspective. With the exception of the Sales department, I’ve been able to put in time with every department at the station. As an intern in Promotions, I have a lot of flexibility with my schedule and a growing appreciation for the departments Monday thru Friday, 9 to 5 working hours, with the occasional weekend promotional event.
Over the past six weeks I’ve learned most of the department schedules and easily adjusted my own schedule so that I’m able to attend evolutions from the beginning to the end. The ease at which I’ve been able to flex to attend various events has given me pause to consider the time I’ve had to be creative and collaborate with others. So far I’ve found that this sort of “working room” is limited to producers and editors, within reason, and I like that. The flexibility has also allowed for ample insight into the flow of things which has helped me to discover what sort of career in broadcast television may or may not be suitable to my interests and my quality of life.
So far I’ve learned that most things in this industry aren’t as simple as they appear to be. For starters, the unspoken rule of the “t.v. uniform” is one such measure that I’m not exactly crazy about. In this industry everyone dresses professionally and at a minimum, work attire is business causal. Overall, the news reporters are the best dressed hands down, with the exception of one fashionista in Production. As a Promotion intern, I get to work hand in hand with reporters to create promos. It seems really simple to get a few photos and or very short videos that feature reporters reading a couple of lines, but it’s not. There’s quite an art to being “camera ready” that is just about as tedious and important as writing a promo.
Although every reporter I asked to participate in a promo, male or female, was friendly and willing to oblige, I quickly observed that the male reporters really didn’t bother to put much time if any into their appearance whereas the female reporters took a considerable amount of time to get “camera ready.” Once it was decided that they were going on camera, if they were not prepared to go, they would follow up with a time and let me know when they could be ready. While I rather enjoyed the short breaks I had to wait for their help, it gave me pause to think about the relief I felt that it wasn’t a part of my job to be “camera ready,” wearing make-up, and seemingly expensive dresses and high heels for full length shots. Being behind off camera, I’m under considerably less pressure to keep up appearances and I realized that I like it like that.
Being in front of the camera as a reporter requires one to look and feel confident and professional in order to show respect to the viewers, command trust and convey authority in reporting the news. Often times viewers are critical of women on camera and their opinions can go a long way. Where men can simply meet a standard by putting on a suit and tie, women get made-up. It makes me wonder if reporters receive training on how to apply make-up and dress for the camera. Seriously, these women look great! When I think of the time, energy and money that female reporters might be spending to achieve a look that makes them feel and look professional for viewers on top of doing their job, I get exhausted. I have a lot of respect for these women reporters, some of which are wives and mothers who look fabulous and professional, all while making it look effortless. It’s not my intention to underestimate the effort male reporters put into their appearances, I’m simply aware that a woman’s appearance is more likely to be judged harshly by viewers when she is in front of a camera and I’m glad it’s not my job.
While I’m not totally certain of the direction I do want to go in this industry, I do know what I don’t want. I only want my work to be on display. I don’t want to worry about the quality of my work taking a backseat to how I look. How I spend my time is important to me and I want to be comfortable where and when I work. This isn’t to say that women reporters aren’t at all comfortable or that there’s a negative connotation with being polished at all times for ones career. I’m just acknowledging what I value and accepting what it means for the type of career I should or shouldn’t pursue in broadcast television and being in front of the camera simply may not be a viable option.