Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Making it in the news business

By: Kayla Jahraus

The persistence of Wile E. Coyote chasing after the Road Runner is constant.  He doesn’t succeed at catching his speedy target but this furry character never gives up.  Studio One alumna, Amy Unrau-Norstedt, works as a weekend news anchor/producer and a multi-media journalist with KVLY Valley News Live in Fargo, N.D.  Her work day has some similar aspects to a Merrie Melodies cartoon.  For this reporter, the pursuit of a story is continuous.

She says her time at the University of North Dakota helped prepare her for her future career.  She interned for six semesters with Studio One, working as a news reporter, feature reporter, stage manager, Headline News Team reporter, co-anchor, spotlight reporter and as the assistant news director.  “Studio One gave me the ability to think and react quickly. When you're out in the field reporting, there are a lot of tough decisions you have to make. Studio One gave me the opportunity to acquire this skill before my job and livelihood depended on that ability,” she says. 

Right before she graduated, she applied at KVLY.  At the time, the job seemed as elusive as the Road Runner.  “The news director…took a long time to fill positions. I dropped off and emailed my résumé, cover letter and demo that April, called him every couple of weeks to see if he was ready to hire and then finally in June, he invited me in for an interview and hired me the next day,” she says.  Unrau-Norstedt is a familiar face in the eastern part of N.D.  She stays busy anchoring and producing content for Valley News Live. She has some tips for keeping up in the news business and catching great stories.

An inspirational quote at Unrau - Norstedt's desk.
Tips for making it in the news business:
1.    Be more than just a voice.  News directors want to see how you act on TV, so the more creative stand-ups you can do as a student, the better.

2.    Remember “The Golden Rule.” News can be a stressful job to have. It's filled with deadlines, nerves and pressure. In that atmosphere, people can be tough to work with. Don't let it get to you and always treat people with respect.

3.    Keep it fresh.  Watch your station's stories, your competitors' stories and stories from outside your market. It is easy to "feel safe" in a job, but sometimes that security can lead to complacency. Look at other people's work, learn from it and challenge yourself to be creative with your writing, camera shots, edits and voice style.

4.    Be a “yes” person. This is especially true when you are new in the business. If you get assigned a story that you think is difficult to execute, don't quit. Try as hard as you can to tell the story. Also, during my first year, I never turned down the opportunity to come in on my day off. Sounds crazy, but I felt lucky to have my job and I wanted to prove that I wanted what was best for the station.

5.    Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. Whether you're having a tough time landing a job, or you have a job and had a really bad day on air, it's going to be okay. There isn't always going to be someone like the staff members at Studio One to tell you that you're awesome. You have to tell yourself. When you are positive, everything is easier.

Unrau-Norstedt’s experience gives some great insight for those pursuing a career. Never giving up on goals does pay off.  She illustrates that new graduates can catch a career though hard work and determination. “Find what makes you happy, and incorporate it into your life. Whether it’s family, faith, a hobby, etc., if you're happy with yourself, you'll be happier in your career. And who knows, maybe your good attitude will rub off on others,” she says.

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