By Adina Solomon
After graduating from Virginia Tech with degrees in broadcast journalism and theater arts, Ashley Esquivel headed to Atlanta. She freelances for Turner, working at the CNN Center. Esquivel began freelancing a year ago after completing a full-time position at Turner.
In an email interview with SPJ Georgia, Esquivel talked about what she does for Turner and advice for fellow freelancers, especially in the broadcast world.
Q: What do you like about broadcast journalism?
A: I got into and like broadcast journalism for a few reasons: 1) I’m a very visual learner and a fairly good writer. This was a major that met those needs and talents. 2) It’s a job in which you are ever-learning. 3) I like to share stories, inform the public and have works of my own – own byline sort of thing.
Q: Why do you freelance?
A: I freelance for a few reasons. One, my full-time position with Turner is more technical and I initially used freelancing as a way to try the editorial side of TV. I enjoyed the work, so I continued and expanded among different networks.
Q: What do you do?
A: My title is AP, or “associate producer.” An AP is the entry-level position in the producing hierarchy. We work alongside senior producers and writers to help choose the visual elements, both photo and video, for shows. In addition to helping pick the visual elements for the show, APs are the communication liaisons for the newsroom. We often are responsible for picking up the phone and redirecting calls. We help the producers manage content and schedule correspondents for live hits with the International Desk and our affiliates.
Q: What clients do you work with?
A: My main “client,” or network, I work with is CNN International at CNN headquarters in downtown Atlanta. I have also worked with HLN’s Weekend Express with Lynn Smith’s team, and I am in the process of getting involved with Turner Sports.
Q: What has been your favorite work that you’ve done as a freelancer?
A: I’ve really enjoyed working with the International team. I have been able to solo AP during breaking news and enjoy the challenging content. Solo AP means I was the only associate producer working a shift. Normally, you work alongside one or two. The biggest breaking news I worked on while freelancing was the ISIS-inspired pressure cooker bomb incident in New York City in February.
Q: What do you like about being a freelancer?
A: I enjoy the exposure of being a freelancer. I am able to gain insight on how our networks differ and evaluate where I want to be long-term. Picking up shifts on your own account and the additional money are also perks!
Q: What don’t you like about being a freelancer?
The only negative about freelancing is not being present day to day. The absence makes it both difficult and exciting to pick up where you once left off.
Q: What advice would you give to fellow freelancers?
A: I would encourage freelancers to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Although there is a lot of work to be done, you want to perform your best work, and working in a 24/7 environment makes it easy to over-commit. I would also suggest asking questions. It is easy to forget simple things when you don’t perform the job on a daily basis. It’s best to ask before the product is wrong or not what your team imagined.