How Do I Become a Commentator?

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  • Written By: Michael Humphrey
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 20 June 2014
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The ways to become a commentator have grown rapidly, thanks primarily to the Internet. In the traditional media, such as large newspapers, magazines, and broadcast companies, there are just a few means to land a job in commentary and it is a highly competitive field. To become a commentator in modern times, however, one need only have access to a computer with a modem. A person seeking to become a commentator can blog, post videos, make comments on websites of both major and minor media outlets, or do all of these. To be paid as a commentator, however, is much more difficult.

Getting paid to become a commentator either means taking the traditional route through established media or creating a large enough following on the Internet that the site can become monetized through advertising, subscription, book sales, or some other form of revenue. First, the traditional route entails gaining expertise in the topic, either by studying the field in college or by gaining a great deal of practical experience. To be a political pundit, for instance, means years of working on campaigns, earning degrees in political science, or both. Another common way to become a commentator in traditional media is to work as a reporter on a specific topic for many years.

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Generally, the new way to become a commentator does not concern credentials and experience nearly as much as drawing an audience. Someone who loves sports, for instance, might start a free blog site on which he or she analyzes the important games of the week, comments on off-the-field news, and interacts with readers who post opinions on the site. Search for a blogging site, sign up, name the blog, and start writing. If the person prefers video, the blog posts can link to a video site where the commentator uploads material. If enough people read or watch, revenue might be able to be built into the site or sometimes the commentator can get hired to blog professionally.

The means to become a commentator are different in one sense, but they do share some similarities. A commentary usually needs to be interesting, shows that the person has a good bank of knowledge of the subject, and, most importantly, has a strong point of view. Commentators who have weak opinions usually don’t draw a crowd. That also means they court controversy, which is usually good for attracting more audience. People who are uncomfortable with confrontation should reconsider their goal to become a commentator.

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Discuss this Article

Saraq90
Post 7

Has anyone seen that financial commentator, I think he is on one of those cable channels...anyway I cannot stand the man. He is always yelling and moving around and talking about stocks going up and going down.

But as usual, I have found a "to each their own" moment. My current economics instructor loves the guy. In fact to become a commentator like him, my instructor has set up a mini studio to create a professional atmosphere, dresses up in a suit, and tapes short segments of himself giving economics lectures and then posts the videos on the internet.

I had just looked on the internet for a lot of funny pet videos, but it turns out many people are posting videos trying to be a star from commentating to singing, you can find it all. In fact I think a recent pop star was found on an internet video.

Times are changing! But I think posting videos and trying to increase the traffic to that video is a good way to get noticed.

geekish
Post 6

I had a friend in high school that wanted to be a sports commentator so he was the one who read the sports news on our school's news program.

He also became the announcer for many of our school's sporting events. I particularly remember him enjoying commentating for basketball games because there was such back and forth action occurring.

He was all about learning how to become a sports commentator even through college until... he became an intern. He interned at the local news station and made no money and worked so many hours he could not have another job.

I don't know if it was a financial issue or a burnout issue, but he ended up becoming a school teacher instead.

It seems like an internship would have to be part of becoming a commentator, but hopefully they have started paying a little something to their interns?!

snickerish
Post 5

I recently had a student in my class whose parent was a political commentator on one of our local radio programs.

I felt so naive when this parent told me that she was an entertainer and not a commentator, so that she didn't necessarily believe all that she was saying, she was trying to entertain.

She just offered up this information when we talking one day about how interesting her job was! I couldn't believe it. I wonder how many other people in the media give what we think are their "opinions" when in fact it is "entertainment"!

Sunny27
Post 4

@Suntan12 - I have to agree and I think that learning how to become a journalist or learning how to become a news reporter is really the first step.

I also think that you have to have a lot of passion when discussing the subject matter. I know that a lot of reporters that have covered many high profile cases, now have their own shows because they offering compelling arguments that draws large audiences.

I think that along with talent and passion, you really need to have a great personality. Look at Nancy Grace. She was a prosecutor whose fiance was murdered which is why she is so passionate in her defense of crime victims especially when there is a murder.

Her ratings are through the roof because she gives compelling arguments that are full of passion and people can’t get enough of it. You really can’t fake passion. Either you have it or you don’t.

I also think that the message has to be something that people want to hear. Glenn Beck lost a lot of his viewership because although he is knowledgeable and passionate about his political views, his views were very controversial and negative.

Viewers did not want to be reminded of the impending doom and gloom that he kept talking about so his program failed. I think that he made a lot of valid points and although my opinions tend to lean more conservative, I have to say that I even had difficulty watching his program and often felt too stressed to tune in every day.

suntan12
Post 3

@Icecream17 - I know what you mean. Sometimes viewers hold these commentators’ opinions in such high regard, but we have to remember that they make mistakes too.

I remember that the political commentators for the presidential election of 2000 kept making incorrect calls. Sometimes they look at exit polling data that may be inaccurate and make judgments based on that information.

There is a 50% chance that they will be wrong and in this case it was an embarrassment. I think that becoming a sports commentator is much less controversial and it can be entertaining especially if you love sports.

I think that getting paid to discuss your opinions about things that you are fascinated about is an amazing thing.

icecream17
Post 2

@SauteePan - I have to say that one of my favorite segments are when they have legal commentators on the show to offer their expert opinions on the high profile cases on television.

I love to see the spin that the lawyers that work in the prosecuting field have to say as well as the what the defense lawyers have to say.

I always wait and see which side was right. I remember that many of the legal commentators where stunned with the jury verdict of the Casey Anthony trial. Most of the commentators were criticizing the defense team and even talking about a potential appeal case.

It just goes to show you that commentators don’t have a crystal ball. They are giving their best educated guess as to what they think will happen.

SauteePan
Post 1

I have to say that I would love to learn how to become a commentator because I have very opinionated views on many topics. I really love politics and even have a degree in the field, and I can certainly defend my point of view pretty succiently.

In a field like politics there is really no right or wrong answer, but you have to be passionate about your beliefs which most people in this field are. I think that being a political commentator would be a lot of fun. I also like when the political pundits give opinions on the prospective political strategy that a candidate should take.

Sometimes this advice is nothing more than an educated guess, but it does make for entertaining television. Even if I disagree, I still like to watch to learn about another point of view on the subject matter.

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