Middle school secretary Hutchinson was once a television reporter


Dibya Ghimirey

Middle school secretary, Tara Hutchinson, was originally a television reporter.

Dibya Ghimirey and Simran Rijal

When Tara Hutchinson got her first job as a television reporter years ago in the small market of Elmira, New York, she declared that she would be moving on in three months. Her colleagues thought she was crazy, but three months later she was hired at a bigger television station in Steubenville, Ohio. 

Hutchinson, a Baldwin Middle School secretary who spoke to the Newspaper class recently, knew she wasn’t going to get a reporting job in a huge city like New York right after graduating college. She also knew that even that first job would provide important learning opportunities.

“To start out in reporting, you have to start out in small towns because they hire people who graduated right after college,” Hutchinson said. 

In Elmira, she worked as a reporter on air with a group of young people, all of them in their early to mid-20s. There, along with her colleagues, she learned how to shoot her own videos with her own camera and then how to edit her stories. 

“It’s a learning experience from the beginning and everybody is on the same boat,” Hutchinson said. 

Before she left TV news reporting to start a family, Hutchinson worked at five different TV stations. Her experiences taught her a lot about broadcast journalism.

One difficult aspect of TV news is that reporters have limited time to get the facts and write their stories, and each story must be concise.

“Stories had to be a minute and ten seconds or a minute and 20 seconds,” Hutchinson said. 

 Since Elmira was a small television market, Hutchison was able to learn all facts of the TV reporting business, which included establishing contacts and sources, shooting stories along with writing them, live reporting, and anchoring. 

“By working more than 40 hours per week and more than five days a week, I was able to learn and master many skills that made me more marketable and enabled me to move into a larger market within three months,” Hutchinson said. 

Reporting, she said, is a tough business since it’s a visual medium where reporters and anchors regularly get critiqued on their appearance. In larger markets, they get money for clothes and makeup along with hair and makeup stylists, but in small markets, reporters have to spend their own money.

“It gets down to the visual – what you look like,” Hutchinson said. 

The last station she worked for was in Greensboro, N.C., where she reported the story of President George W. Bush campaigning for a local candidate. As is the case when covering any politicians or celebrities, Hutchinson just focused on the story.

“I had learned to control my emotions since I was doing my job,” Hutchinson said. 

From her experiences as a reporter, she has advice for all students as they head off toward careers.

“No matter what field you go into, you are going to be learning so much in the beginning, and then it will become second nature,” she said.