It is an indisputable fact that women have historically faced far more obstacles on the path to success than men. But that hasn’t stopped us, and it certainly hasn’t stopped Amanda Gallo, the main female character in Alisyn Camerota’s new book Amanda Wakes Up. This spunky young reporter wants nothing more than to be the anchor of a popular morning show, just like her idol Suzy Berenson. Here is a step-by-step breakdown as to how Amanda manages to make her dream a reality and survive this world full of sexism, media bias, conflicting facts, and bipolar viewers. Warning: spoilers ahead!
1. Never Wear Pants
In a fortunate accident, Amanda forgets to wear pants for a breaking news segment at the start of the novel. After this first on-air gig, her popularity seems to explode almost overnight, and before she knows it, Amanda is interviewing for a job at a startup cable news company called FAIR News. In fact, when she goes to get new clothes for her audition to be FAIR News’ morning show anchor, her stylist informs her that wearing pants is a big no-no. After all, Suzy Berenson “has the best legs in the business and she never misses a chance to show them off.” Unfortunately, Amanda has to actually give into this sexism in order to be successful–just one of the major industry issues women face on a daily basis.
2. Keep the Camera Crew Happy
Work lets out at 10:30am? That isn’t an issue for Amanda’s camera crew. Before it really even hits home that she’s landed her dream job, the crew invites her to go for an after-work drink with them across the street. For a while, she refuses, too tired from her 3:00am alarms and three hour live broadcasts. Eventually, though, she does make a point to go, knowing that the crew controls how she looks on air, making them necessary members of her FAIR News support system. Besides, they’re pretty nice guys, if a little on the “bro” side. One drink, a few jokes and a cab ride later, she finally gets some sleep.
3. Speaking of Sleep, Get Some
Even though you have to be ready to work insane hours, know that sleep is just as important for success as anything else you can do. Without sleep, your chances of making a mistake increase. Amanda makes a point to go to bed early (and I mean 7-8:00pm early) almost every night before the show so that she is as awake as anyone can be when it’s 4:00am and the car comes to take you to the studio. After-work naps are great, too—just make sure you wake up early enough to do research on the topics covered in the rundown!
4. Don’t Take Social Media Too Seriously
Amanda learns first hand that people on the internet can be, in a word, brutal. After each broadcast, Amanda’s Twitter feed seems to blow up with hateful comments accusing her of being a bleeding-heart liberal one day and a redneck conservative the next. Caught in the chaos of partisan politics leading up to the next presidential election, Amanda doesn’t take the comments very well, becoming frustrated with the criticism and inconsistency of the comment’s content. Meanwhile, her cohost Rob enjoys scrolling through the comments, totally immune to the hurtful words simply because he doesn’t care what the viewers think of him based on the guests he interviews or news he delivers. In the end, all you can do is ignore the hate and block (or report, if needed) the psychopaths. Your real-life friends will be there to support you.
5. Know All of the Facts
Plagued by the voice of a certain journalism professor in her head, Amanda tries to uphold the tenants of journalism at every twist and turn, which isn’t always easy when the producers care more about ratings than searching for the truth, making sure sources are credible, or double-checking their work. Amanda tries to avoid finding herself in a position where she doesn’t know enough about a topic to hold up her side of the argument, and to that end tries to hold others accountable as well. In the fast-paced world of journalism, it can be a real challenge to know everything. Still, it’s crucial to not get ahead of yourself and be as objective as possible by being as prepared and as knowledgeable as possible. (For more on partisan news in the book, check out this article!)
6. Find Your Support Team
It’s important to maintain strong relationships with friends and family even when you’re working those crazy 100 hour weeks. Make time for those relationships, even if it’s just a movie on a Saturday night or an hour-long catch-up call. Also, don’t forget to cultivate those at-work friendships; journalism can be extremely competitive, so you’ll need a coworker or two on your side. If you can, find that person willing to be your “FrankinFresno.” Sometimes, that Twitter follower sending you good vibes midst the storm of hate just might be the cohost sitting next to you.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to sign the first contract you’re offered. Once you’ve begun to work your way up the ladder of success, however, it’s important to know how to negotiate. Don’t take that first, shiny offer without reading it. Figure out what you want, then counter offer if need be. Better yet, hire an agent to do this part for you. Just make sure they actually know how to do their job!
Amanda Wakes Up is a great book full of insider information on the journalism biz, exposing both the glamour and the grime. Camerota handles the more pressing issues like sexism and media bias with finesse, leaving us questioning our own ideologies as we cringe at the puns (Victor “Fluke” being my favorite) and dirty jokes (FrankinFresno just kills me). For more advice from this successful journalist, check out this article on how to have a good work-life balance.