Hi. My name is Justina Coelho. I am an anchor/reporter KMTR and a Reel Media Group Community Ambassador (you can find me @justinacoelho once you’re logged in).
I was a senior at UCLA when I found Reel Media Group and did a bootcamp in LA.
Like many of you will, I got my start in a bureau (also called a “satellite” market). I was one of only two reporters working there…and that was it. No news director. No photographers. No assignment editors. While I liked the independence, it was definitely what I liked to call an MMJ bootcamp. It was entirely up to me to figure out the stories of the day, turn multiple stories in different formats on a tight deadline, shoot/write/edit, produce and anchor the early-morning cut-ins….oh, and look good while I did it. It was exhausting and exhilarating, and it made me grow up very fast as a reporter. I wouldn’t trade it for the world because I very quickly had to figure out what this job was all about, and master those skills, fast.
With that being said, here are Justina’s three survival tips for being an MMJ:
1. Be prepared for anything!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve showed up to work in heels and a dress and ended up in muddy hiking boots in the rain. No matter how carefully you plan out your day, breaking news takes precedence. And that means packing a wardrobe change! I always keep several outfits in my car: a nice dress and heels, rain boots and a jacket, workout clothes and a pair of running shoes, a hat or two. There have also been times when I’ve had to fill in as an anchor or do weather at the last second — so I have an outfit for every scenario!
2. Make contacts
When you’re out on a story, always be thinking of future story ideas. Don’t be afraid to make conversation about things outside the context of the current story. After I’m done interviewing someone, I like to find out a little more about them, bring up a current topic to see if they have an opinion about it, and I almost always ask them for their number to do a follow-up story with them. At the end of an interview I always leave it open ended…”Any closing thoughts or final words? Anything you want our viewers to know…?” As MMJs we’re always looking to tell our stories through the eyes of a central character. Don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper! This works especially well with PIOs (public information officers). After wrapping up an interview I always ask about future story ideas. The best stories come from people, not press releases.
3. Watch your work
This might seem very basic, but as a new reporter, we grow a lot in our first market. I cringe every time I watch my early stories, thinking, “Who let me on air?!” For me, it really helped to go back and watch my work, and find ways to improve. We are our own worst critics, but sometimes that’s not a bad thing in this industry. I always found a way to go back and watch my delivery, my editing, the questions I asked during the interview, etc. I still learn something new just about every day, and I’m still growing so much as a reporter! Going back and watching my work has helped me realize that.
To learn more about participating in an RMG bootcamp or joining our community email firstname.lastname@example.org