Though it’s two decades old, local cable channel NY1 (ny1.com) is still among the youngest TV news operations in the city. The station’s low-budget aesthetic is a welcome contrast with the bells and whistles on network news: Beat reporters are known for bringing their own cameras and battery packs into the field, and the information you need is delivered reliably. “Weather on the 1s,” for example, airs every ten minutes. But it’s only in the past few years that the station has gained a kind of cachet, due in part to the increased exposure of morning anchor Pat Kiernan. Since he took over the position 15 years ago, the native Canadian has become a beloved local celebrity; he’s often seen hosting trivia events in Brooklyn, and is diligent about replying to his legion of Twitter followers, who comment on that day’s “In the Papers” segment. The daily series, which begins at 7:42am, has long been a favorite of media hounds and busy nine-to-fivers who look forward to Kiernan’s commentary on (and dry delivery of ) the day’s news. Many full-time reporters and producers have been with the station for nearly ten years, a rarity in the musical-chairs game of the media world. And while NY1 prides itself on its breaking-news reportage, the channel also offers a wide variety of programs that cover politics, culture, sports and entertainment, including The Call, On Stage and Inside City Hall. We peeked behind the curtain one morning last month.
Wanna work here?
“We are constantly looking for new talent,” says NY1 human-resources recruiter, Thomas Sanchez. There’s a higher level of turnover in editorial and technical freelance roles, mostly due to the number of hours they’re allotted in the calendar year. But people at NY1, regardless of their career track, tend to hang on to their full-time positions for many years, as evidenced by the employees we interviewed. “Our employees see opportunities here as a benchmark in their careers,” explains Sanchez. The company looks for strong skill sets, but it also wants to find the right fit for the culture. “We look for eager, driven people who want to make an impact within the journalism industry,” says Sanchez. Over the past year, the station totaled close to 200 new freelance and full-time hires. Sanchez encourages prospective NY1ers to browse Time Warner Cable’s career site (jobs.timewarnercable.com) for openings, which range from entry-level to managerial positions. Intern hopefuls can also apply here; NY1 hires anywhere from 25 to 35 interns each term and posts the openings one to two months in advance. “Our news and programming departments have expanded rapidly over the past few years, and our plan is to continue down that same path,” notes Sanchez. “As the demand for our news grows, so will our demand for new employees. That could be you!”
Career advice from the NY1 crew
“I think you have to come in without a lot of preconceived ideas about what your role is gonna be. You have to be flexible, be prepared to do whatever people ask you and prove yourself to the organization. It gives you the opportunity to get into the newsroom. I think you want to take that opportunity—regardless of the level of seniority, the caliber, the specialty you’re looking for—especially if it’s a larger company where there’s room to move around. Get in, meet people and do the job.”—Pat Kiernan, morning anchor
“Don’t wait for someone to pay you to start. Don’t wait for the first job to start. I had to wait until I had an internship and built a relationship with a reporter who would let me use their cameraman for five minutes to make some fake demo. But I think you really just have to do it: Get stuff on tape. And even then, besides making tapes and making websites, get a Tumblr. There are so many outlets now to get your work out to everyone that you can. You have to stick with it. Say yes to everything. I didn’t say no for years. I worked around the clock, whatever station, whatever assignment, whatever anything. And you have to stay positive. I’ve been told so many times, ‘You’re too young-looking. You’re too happy-looking. You’re voice is too high. Your hair is too long.’ It’s always something, and you have to be open to the criticism, but at the same time, stick to your guns and just keep doing it. It’s not easy, but I’ve been really lucky to land at such a good place. I have great bosses, a great team.”—Jamie Shupak, traffic reporter
“My advice would be, always have a sense of humor, because that always works for me! Never think you’re going to work nine-to-five—because [Laughs] I don’t think that ever happens! Be prepared for the unexpected. You never know what your assignment is going to bring you that day. Being an intern here, being a news assistant here—if you’re new to the city, what a way to see the city. It’s a learning experience, every day. Even for me. Never feel afraid. Ask as many questions as you want. You never know—it could change your life!”—Leslie Martelli-Hines, executive producer
“I think the biggest piece of advice is to be flexible—and learn everything! When I started, I knew a little tape-to-tape editing and [I] picked it up. Now you can edit from home. Your office can be a coffeeshop. I know that if I need to do something quick, I can edit it on my laptop at home and send it in through a FileZilla type of program. Learn as much as you can in terms of the programs you need to know. If you wanna be in graphics, [it’s] After Effects and Adobe Photoshop suite. If you want to be a producer, Final Cut is really the forefront for what we do.”—Alex Gonzalez, executive producer for creative services.