It was one of the many public appearances I make on behalf of the TV station every month.
They had good questions about ratings, and stories, and coverage, and politics, and what constitutes news; and of course, they’re in a generation that still WATCHES TV news. Gen-X or “Y”, or whatever-gen-it-is-now don’t watch TV…they get their news on their smartphone.
The Heart of Journalism
Even more challenging were questions about journalism itself. I’ve worked in the milieu of newsrooms for more than 30 years, but I’ve never had a journalism course in my life. My degree from the University of Illinois is a Masters in Exercise Physiology. Yup. I’ve been faking it all this time. :)
My approach to my job as a TV news anchor has always meant more focus on performance than the nuts ‘n’ bolts of journalism. Don’t get me wrong, after all those years, I have the cut-throat determination to get the story first and get it right that all proud journalists have. I have also developed excellent writing and grammar skills, and I enjoy the enterprising hunt and dig for a great story. In many ways, I’m more of a journalist today, than someone with diploma in journalism.
Day in and day out.. my performance on camera (with a journalist’s instinct) is important. But what matters most.. and the reason I’ve thrived in journalism without a journalism degree is my integrity and my reputation. Day in and day out, the viewers know what to expect from me: excellence, high standards, and an unflinching dedication to getting it right. Looking great and having my tie straight wouldn’t matter a hoot if my integrity and reputation were crap.
I planted that flag a long time ago. Where is yours? As a voice-actor, what is the bedrock mission statement of your business? How do you want to be thought of? Under what basic creed to you operate? What is the driving factor that underscores every action you make as a voice-actor?
Mine has been and always will be excellence, customer service, integrity, and dependability. All that leads to an impervious reputation.
How Journalism is Like Voice-Acting
Let me point out a striking similarity between voice actors and journalists: Anyone can claim to be one.
No certifying or accreditation body exists to qualify you into the profession. A lot of bloggers claim they’re journalists. They’re not. A lot of people with a mic and a computer claim their voice-actors. They’re not.
What makes you a voice actor is your proven dedication to your craft…your reputation…your customer service matched with a good business sense, a diehard work ethic, a willingness to grow/change, and decent marketing skills. The pipes ultimately don’t matter (although it helps).
I wouldn’t recommend trying to fake it at anything. Work hard and apply yourself. Plant your flag of integrity. Decide what you want your reputation to be, go out and get great coaching, then apply yourself. Work hard some more, and watch for your opportunities.
When the time is right, someone will see your flag and what it stands for.