The Job of a News Anchor
At the networks the TV news anchors present the news. You know the people -- the ones sitting there behind a desk (or in the field) telling you what’s happening in the world that day. Whether broadcasting from a small local station or manning one of the network’s primetime broadcasts, TV news anchors compile news stories and deliver them.
The Skills You Need
Being a news anchor requires a number of skills, the first of which is a comfort in front of the camera. There’s an element of show business in the job of a news anchor -- not only do you need to be comfortable in front of the camera but you need to make people want to watch you. The latter may not be something you can learn but, certainly, gaining comfort speaking to the camera is a skill you can hone.
A news anchor also needs to be able to think on his feet. While many anchors will read scripts -- off of a teleprompter or notes on their desk -- information can also be transmitted aurally. If news is breaking information may be fed to an anchor on the spur of the moment from a producer. The anchor needs to be able to listen to what’s happening and then relay the information to the audience in a clear and concise manner.
The News Gathering Part of the Job
How much reporting is involved in an anchor’s job is dependent on where the anchor works and what type of broadcast they work on. Some anchors, especially at local news stations, will report their own stories (perhaps with help from a producer or other staffer), and write the scripts they then transmit on the air. In that sense, an anchor works very much like a reporter with the main difference being that they need to craft the story in a way that works for television.
Working With a Producer
The stories that are often reported by anchors are ones from the field. (An example of this is when, say, Katie Couric or Charles Gibson isn't on the anchor desk but is instead reporting on a story from some a specific locale.) The general newscast delivered from behind a desk is usually not written by the anchor but, rather, a staff of writers who work for the show. But the stories reported from the field are often researched and worked on by the anchor. Anchors also work with producers who help conceive of stories and then help report those stories.
How to Get a Job As an Anchor
Anchors need to get time in front of the camera. Most jobs are gotten with a tape, or a sample of your work on-air. Before you look for a job as an anchor, you need to have done an internship at a local station (and gotten some time on-air), or studied communications in college. (A number of schools have programs, both grad and undergrad, for television journalism; you can find a comprehensive list of American journalism schools here.)
Once you have a tape, you should start looking for jobs at local stations. Many anchors work their way up from small broadcasts to bigger ones. (There are local news broadcasts in many cities and, often, the bigger the city the more competitive the job.) There are also myriad opportunities on-air at the various cable news channels.
A Day in the Life
A good way to find out more about a job is to hear about it from someone in the field. This piece, from a CNN anchor, is good depiction of what it’s like to be an anchor and the various tasks of the job. This article also offers more scoop on the job of a TV news anchor.