5 Reasons Not to Become a TV News Anchor

Get into TV news for the wrong reasons and you may end up being the most unhappy anchor on the air.
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Being a TV news anchor would appear to be a glamor job, but there are several drawbacks to this high-profile career. If you dream of sitting behind the anchor desk, consider the 5 key misconceptions about being a TV news anchor so that your dream of being an anchor doesn't become a nightmare.

For the Fame

One perk would seem to be the fame. You're a household face, able to get a great table at a restaurant and have people stopping you for your autograph.

If this is the reason you want to be a TV news anchor, know that the fame will be fleeting.

If you ever get fired from your media job or even just laid off through no fault of your own, everyone in town will know you've disappeared from the airwaves. Suddenly, you won't want to be stopped in the grocery store because total strangers will ask you what happened.

Say that never happens to you. Fame will still become a nuisance when you can't say what you want on Facebook or Twitter because of the station's social media policy. You can't root for your favorite sports team or vent about your city's potholes because your bosses expect you to be completely neutral in all areas.

For the Money

It's true that some of the top news anchors make six-figure salaries. However, that usually only comes after years of toiling, probably as a low-paid TV news reporter.

Starting reporters can earn as little as $20,000 a year, usually in a tiny DMA far away from the bright lights of the big city.

You have to decide whether you're willing to spend years paying your dues, slowly working your way up while you await your shot at the big time.

People outside the TV industry often greatly overestimate typical newsroom salaries. So, when your friends who are doctors, attorneys or other professionals ask you to join them on an exotic vacation, you may have to have an excuse ready.

If you say no, you might act as though you're too busy, but the reality might be you're too broke.

For the Easy Schedule

It might seem that an evening news anchor strolls into the newsroom a half-hour before air time, sits in front of the camera for the 6 o'clock broadcast, then vanishes until it's time for the late news that evening. A few anchors might be able to get away with that lackadaisical work ethic, but not many.

You will have newsroom meetings to attend, topical promotion spots to record and possibly scripts to write. Plus there are school talks to give, charity events to emcee and special projects to produce.

Combine all of those tasks and it can make for long hours and constant deadlines. Being energized for the daily newscasts is critical, even if a news anchor has already had a full day of speaking and meeting people. Because you have to appear to be "on" at all times, it can really leave you exhausted after what most people would think was an easy day in the newsroom.

For the Power

In some ways, the news anchor would seem to be the newsroom's ultimate authority, because of vast work experience and as the final gatekeeper of what is said on the air. The actual power an anchor has varies widely from station to station.

Some stations allow the anchors to be mentors to the younger staff members. That can be rewarding. At other stations, anchors are shoved into a corner and considered pretty news readers who lack the brains to really be needed. That can leave your ego bruised unless you like to be left alone and are content with not being involved in the daily operations.

At any station, the news anchor works at the pleasure of the news director, who runs the department. Even an assignment editor can give an anchor work to do. The anchor is just another newsroom employee who must follow orders, but can rarely give them.

For the Networking Connections

A news anchor is often on a first-name basis with the mayor, and maybe even the governor. His list of contacts is vast if he's spent a considerable time in the market.

However, that familiarity with political or business leaders, celebrities or sports stars doesn't usually mean there's a deep relationship.

An anchor typically doesn't socialize outside of work with these famous and powerful people, even if he's interviewed them a dozen times. There's not a personal connection, just a business link that comes with a TV camera attached. The governor may be happy to talk to an anchor on TV, because it serves both sides. Without the camera, the governor has more important people to see.

A good TV anchor wouldn't want to fraternize with the people he covers in the first place. Knowing how to avoid the appearance of media bias when covering political stories dictates that there should be a distance between any journalist and the elected leaders they cover. So, these connections with famous people end up being superficial.

Being a TV news anchor can be an exciting and rewarding career choice. Just be sure you know the drawbacks of the job and decide for yourself if they outweigh the benefits.