Learn About Being a News Anchor
What does a news anchor do?
A news anchor reports local, national or international news and events to the public on television or radio. Some specialize in a certain topic, such as sports or politics, while others cover a variety of events and happenings. News anchors might broadcast live from a television studio or travel to the site of an event to gather and share information on camera. Other news anchor job responsibilities might include:
- Researching news stories
- Pitching story ideas to supervisors
- Scheduling and conducting interviews to gain information or opinions about a story
- Providing news and story updates as more information becomes available
- Choosing which stories to air and organizing them in a logical order
- Writing scripts to read on-air
- Collaborating with field reporters during live broadcasts
- Collaborating with photographers, videographers, writers and editors to produce a story
- Participating in daily news briefings with the news director, reporters and other staff
- Establishing a social media presence and using it to engage with the audience
- Maintaining a network of industry contacts
A news anchor’s salary depends on their experience and the size and location of the employer. Jobs in large news markets and major cities typically pay the highest. Entry-level news anchors might start in small markets and work their way to larger ones.
- Common salary in the U.S.: $35,162 per year
- Some salaries range from $14,000 to $89,000 per year.
News anchor requirements
Most news anchors must have at least a bachelor’s degree and prior work or internship experience to find a job. Their background typically includes:
News anchors usually earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, Journalism or Broadcast Journalism. Related degrees include English, public relations and political science. Many employers prefer news anchors with journalism degrees because those programs teach valuable skills such as research and interview techniques, ethics, investigative reporting and broadcasting.
Some news anchors pursue a Master’s Degree in Journalism or Communications to further their skills—particularly if they did not major in journalism—and to prepare for senior-level positions.
News anchors gain experience and training through internships and work experience. They might start out in an entry-level position, such as a field reporter, and work in that role for a few years until they have developed the skills to be promoted to news anchor.
Because news gets delivered increasingly through social media, websites and mobile apps, anchors might also seek training in areas such as multimedia, video editing and computer programming.
News anchors don’t typically earn certifications. They might, however, become members of professional organizations to demonstrate their commitment to the industry and to furthering their knowledge. Organizations news anchors might consider becoming members of include:
The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA)
The RTDNA is the world’s largest broadcast journalism organization. Members can receive professional training through webinars and conferences, network with other members and earn awards and scholarships.
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)
The NAB advocates for radio and television news anchors in government and focuses on how broadcasters contribute to their communities. It provides members with legal and technical advice as well as leadership and professional training through webcasts, podcasts and events.
Society of Professional Journalists
This society supports free press, high-quality content and ethical behavior in journalism. Members have access to career development tools and videos and a community of industry professionals to network with. The society hosts the annual Excellence in Journalism conference and awards.
Because news anchors present the news to a television audience, they must have confidence, composure and polish. They must be able to react and make decisions quickly. Other skills news anchors need to succeed include:
A news anchor’s main job is to communicate the news. They must have strong verbal and written communication skills and the ability to speak clearly.
News anchors must work well with a team of journalists and news staff. They must also maintain good relationships with a network of news sources and be able to conduct interviews easily. They also need to interact effectively with the people they interview.
News anchors might be involved in the editing and production of their broadcasts. They should have excellent computer skills and be comfortable using video editing software.
News anchors often work long and unpredictable hours. They must have the energy to deliver clear and confident news reports on-air at any hour.
News broadcasting is fast-paced and revolves around deadlines. Anchors should be able to multitask, prioritize work and complete stories on time.
News anchor work environment
Many news anchors split their time between the office or studio and traveling to different locations to interview people and report on stories. Depending on the time slot they anchor, they might work days, nights, weekends or a combination of those. They might work irregular or long hours depending on the story they are covering and the deadlines they must meet. Schedules can change unexpectedly when breaking news occurs.
A news anchor might travel on assignment alone or with a camera operator. They might work on stories independently or collaborate with a group of news staffers.
A news anchor’s work environment is fast-paced and often stressful. Anchors covering news about natural disasters, crime or wars might be in dangerous situations.
How to become a news anchor
Typically, you must have a bachelor’s degree and spend several years gaining news broadcast and journalism experience before obtaining a position as a news anchor. Follow these steps to become a news anchor:
1. Earn a bachelor’s degree
Look for colleges and universities that offer journalism, broadcasting or mass communication degrees. You can also major in communications, English or related subjects and take electives or courses on topics that will benefit your career, such as public speaking or film studies.
2. Gain relevant experience
Start building your newscasting skills during and after college. You might volunteer for your school newspaper or radio, join a speech or debate team or start a video blog in which you discuss current events. Apply for internships at local news and television stations over the summer or upon graduating. Some internships can turn into full-time jobs. You can list all these activities on your resume when applying for news anchor jobs.
3. Apply for entry-level jobs
Most news anchors work their way up as they gain experience in entry-level positions. You might apply to be a reporter or correspondent for a local station, during which time you might get the opportunity to be interviewed on-air or stand-in for anchors when they are away. Use these opportunities to build the portfolio of on-air examples you will need to apply for news anchor jobs.
4. Advance in your career
When you have gained the necessary experience to be a news anchor—usually after a couple of years working in a news station—you might start as an anchor in a small market. After earning a good reputation, developing industry contacts and adding content to your portfolio, you might qualify for news anchor jobs in bigger cities or stations.
5. Obtain a master’s degree
You might pursue a Master’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism or Mass Communications to qualify for better job opportunities. You can do this right after earning your bachelor’s degree or you might take graduate school courses part-time while working.
6. Join professional organizations
Become a member of an industry organization such as the Society of Professional Journalists to gain access to continuing education, conferences, advice and networking opportunities. Use these resources to continue your training as a news anchor and demonstrate your dedication to the industry to employers.
News anchor job description example
WHRL7 is looking for a passionate news anchor to join our local news team for the 2 p.m. shift. The news anchor will be responsible for pitching, researching and reporting on stories about regional politics, crime and community events. The news anchor will work closely with correspondents, videographers, photographers and production staff to create engaging content for our audience. The ideal candidate will be persistent, confident and have exceptional written and verbal communication skills. Candidates must have at least two years of on-air experience, a bachelor’s degree and an interest in politics and current affairs.
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