Jarred Hill is an on-air news reporter at WMDT 47, ABC’s affiliate station out of Salisbury, Maryland. Previously, Jarred worked on Dateline, was a Page at NBC Universal, and completed the competitive Emma L. Bowen Foundation’s internship program.
Did you always know that you wanted to be a reporter someday?
I always knew that I wanted to work in the media industry in some way, shape, or form. When I was younger, I remember asking my parents for a Power Rangers uniform, because I thought that would help me in my audition to be a Power Ranger. I had these internal dialogues in my head where I was like, “Alright, I want to be on Nickelodeon’s All That, but I don’t want to move to Florida and leave my friends, and I like my school, so maybe I’ll audition next year.” So for the longest time, I thought I wanted to be an actor/singer.
It wasn’t until the end of my junior year of high school when my mom passed me along an email about the Emma L. Bowen Foundation, [which] gave internship and scholarship opportunities to minorities who want to work in media. So I applied to that; I got in, and got a 5-year paid internship with C-SPAN. At the time, I was 15, and I was like, “What is C-SPAN? What the hell and I going to do with this? This sucks.” Because I wanted to work for a record label, so I wanted a record label or MTV [internship] and they gave me C-SPAN. But over the 5 years in working at C-SPAN, I started to see how interesting journalism was. I knew I didn’t want to work for C-SPAN right out of college—but it’s a great company, and who knows what will happen down the road. And that’s kind of what sparked my interest in working in TV and what sparked my interest in becoming a Page.
When I graduated from college, I didn’t have a degree in journalism—I took maybe one journalism class—but I figured I wanted to learn more about it. That’s why I decided I wanted to try and join the Page Program (you can never really say that you’re going to [definitely] be a page because like 1% of people get in).
So my first assignment in the Page Program was at the TODAY Show and that’s what really solidified that I wanted to go into journalism, because I saw how this machine worked day in and day out and I thought, “This is amazing! I want to do this.” And that’s what really made want to do it.
After the Page Program, you went to work at Dateline. How do you think that that experience behind the camera helped to prepare you for your role now in front of the camera?
That was huge because I still didn’t have the journalism background, so I needed to get that practical background. I learned so much, from technical aspects of setting up a shoot to what a producer does and how to log tape. It really introduced me to the basics of journalism and the ins and outs of how it works. In my role, I did a lot more on the business and promotion side, because I also worked with the social networking crew for Dateline. I dabbled a little bit in the journalism stuff, but because it’s such a big machine, everybody has their role and you don’t really do that much outside of your role. But I got a chance to see how it all works and for me that was the biggest thing. I like learning about why things happen and [what goes into creating news]. It was definitely an invaluable experience that I would do again.
Do you feel like there was a big learning curve when you made that leap from national to local news?
Yes and no. National [news] and local [news] are two completely different beasts. [With] national, you are sort of following trends and you’re seeing what story breaks and what’s the big thing happening, but [with] local, you really have to dig and find stuff… and then national will pick it up later.
So, I knew on the tail-end what makes things really exciting for people to watch, but some of the ins and outs of working local, I was not at all prepared for.
Do you find that many of your colleagues there came up through local news or did many of them start national like you?
A lot of people came from local, because there are only so many slots [available] working in a national network. A lot of people came from a local background and a lot of people