What Is a News Anchor? - Job Description & Salary

Jul 13, 2019

'I'm Wolf Blitzer, and you're in the Situation Room.' Want to do Wolf's job? And what is a TV anchor, exactly? If you'd like your name and face to be on global, national or local television news, managing the broadcast and introducing reporters' feeds, you might want to become a news anchor. Read on to find out how.

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  • 00:01 Essential Information
  • 0:28 Job Description
  • 1:09 Job Duties
  • 2:04 Job Outlook & Salary
  • 2:23 Job Requirements

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News Anchor Job Description

News anchors' jobs have changed considerably since the days when Walter Cronkite said, ''And that's the way it is.'' News has become a 24/7 commodity on multiple TV channels, which are in constant competition with the Internet as a source of news, features and ''infotainment.''

Yet people still tune in by the millions every evening to local and national TV news broadcasts, where they're greeted by a familiar face -- the news anchor. And while the networks used to have one primary person assigned to the anchoring job, today's 24-hour news channels have many, often serving up a lively dose of political opinion along with the news.

If you're interested in how to become an anchorwoman or anchorman, the chart below shows some of the educational requirements, skills needed, potential salaries and job outlook.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Fields of Study Journalism, mass communications
Key Skills Outstanding communication skills; reporting, writing and editing talents; interpersonal skills; professional appearance and dress
Mean salary (2018) $91,990 (broadcast news analysts)*
Job Outlook (2016-26) 0% (broadcast news analysts)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Does a News Anchor Do?

A news anchor is a broadcast news journalist who welcomes viewers to a daily television news show, informs the public of the top news of the day, introduces live or taped news reports, and manages the viewer experience until the end of the broadcast.

Many news anchors are former reporters who may have filled in occasionally for a previous anchor until the top job became available. Good anchors are seasoned journalists who are experienced in all aspects of the newsgathering, reporting and editing process.

What Kind of Degree Does a News Anchor Need?

Journalism is a field where experience and talent are valued far more than advanced degrees. Getting a job in broadcast journalism generally requires only a four-year bachelor's degree in journalism or communication, though other majors can also be acceptable. A master's degree can be helpful but is rarely required in this field.

What Kind of Experience in College is Useful?

Student journalists generally work for their college newspapers, gaining experience in reporting, writing and editing. Some universities also have TV or radio programs where future broadcasters can gain experience.

Internships, paid or unpaid, are a well-trodden path to future employment for student journalists. If a new journalism grad's résumé contains no work experience whatsoever, it may well be headed for the trash can.

What Job Skills are Needed?

News anchors must have outstanding communication skills, both verbal and written, and a clear, strong speaking voice. Interpersonal skills are also essential -- they must be able to gain the trust of sources they need, and they must be skilled interviewers who can put others at ease.

Anchors need to be exceptionally well informed on the latest news on a daily basis and must have the judgment to recognize top-tier and secondary news stories. They must also be able to ''think on their feet,'' at times responding to and reporting breaking news as it's happening.

Grooming and attire are important -- you don't need movie-star looks, but this is a visual medium, and appearance matters. Charisma, likability and a sense of trustworthiness are also major assets.

How are the Pay and Job Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, broadcast news analysts (which the BLS defines as synonymous with anchors or news commentators) earned a mean salary of $91,990 in 2018. The job outlook, unfortunately, is poor -- with little or no growth expected from 2016 to 2026 because of declining advertising revenue in TV, newspapers and radio.

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