Saturday, December 22, 2007

Media Mail

Over the years I've told people that resume tapes can be sent media mail if the sender isn't pressed for time and wants to save money. It generally takes a few more days, but it gets there.

Except, apparently, in the month of December.

How do I know this? Because I Christmas shop on ebay.

On December 6th I bought a DVD and the seller sent it media mail the next day. It had a confirmation number, and made it all the way from Houston to Dallas by the 10th.

And hasn't moved an inch since.

I talked with a postal employee I know and was told that during the holiday season, media mail doesn't go anywhere until the priority mail and overnight stuff is out of the way. So while the letter carriers are carting fruitcakes through rain, sleet, snow and gloom of night, your resume tape is cooling its heels in some back room, waiting its turn.

So, for future reference, don't send your resume tapes out via media mail this time of year.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Friday's story ideas

Kids with cell phones. About 80 percent of parents buy them for safety reasons, even though kids rarely do anything but send text messages. They're a popular gift item this year.

Newspaper endorsements. Interesting that two Boston newspapers fail to endorse Mitt Romney, but does anyone really care about endorsements anymore? And where is it written that newspapers endorse but TV stations don't?

New energy bill to phase out incandescent light bulbs. Edison turns over in grave.

Holiday tips. Years ago we tipped the mailman, the milkman (yes, I'm old), the paper boy, etc. Whom should you tip, and how much is acceptable?

Christmas bonuses. Are they still around, and who is getting them?

Holiday therapy. Does depression run rampant this time of year, and are therapists around to listen?

What's up in your market regarding the use of the word "Christmas?" Are political entities using "holiday" as a substitute so they won't appear to show religious preference?

Schwarzenegger intends to sue the US government over environmental regulations. Will other states follow suit?

Alien vs. Predator movie gets Christmas Day release. Glad there's still some old fashioned sentimentality in Hollywood.

Thursday's story ideas

New study shows that teens who have formal sex education are more likely to delay having sex. (If you can do this package without a joke about Britney's sister, you get bonus points.)

Airline employee's point of view. We all know flying this time of year is stressful, but what are some things we can do to make the process smoother for the airline people? Some suggestions on flying with children might be nice.

TSA regs. They're asking for certain items to be in a quart size Ziploc bag. You can probably save a minute or two per passenger if everyone complies.

Expiring frequent flier miles. Even if you don't plan to fly, you can often extend them by shopping or dining out with airline partners.

Green tea may reduce your risk of prostate cancer.

The EPA blocks California's attempt to new emission rules. Several other states were about to follow suit.

College football coaching carousel. Coaches are moving constantly, and for huge salaries. Who's really paying for this, and how does this affect academics at schools in your market? What's the local coach's salary?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mailbag... What's the secret?

Dear Grapevine,

I can't figure this business out. There are people who are brainless idiots who rise to the top, and others who are talented and work hard and have to struggle. Is there some sort of common denominator for success in TV news?

-Resume Diva

Dear Diva,

Yes, of course there's a common denominator in the world of television news.

It is called "life is not fair."

You're right, there are people who couldn't spell IQ making seven figures and Mensa members clipping coupons. There are so many intangible factors to consider... appearance, voice, nepotism, you name it, that you can drive yourself crazy trying to beat the system. You'd have better luck playing slots in Vegas.

But while you cannot predict how the stars will align at any given point, you can improve your chances. Here are a few ways to "make your own luck."

-Be versatile. Know a little about a lot. If you're a reporter, learn to do weather and sports, even on an emergency basis. If you're a weathercaster, learn to put a package together. The more flexible you are, the more valuable you are to a News Director. If I have a choice between two people who are dead even talent-wise, I'm gonna hire the one who can wear more than one hat.

-Ditch the ego. Over the years the biggest egos I've ever seen worked in the smallest markets. Some of the nicest people work in the major markets and for the networks. The network correspondents I work with now are not only professional, but treat the members of the crew with respect, and as equals.

-Make your News Director's life easier. Come in with story ideas every day, volunteer to work holidays and weekends when you can. Don't be a newsroom gossip. News Directors move around as much as anyone else, and they often take their favorite people with them.

-Ask for advice. This was my biggest mistake when I was young and thought I knew everything. Be a sponge. Learn from people with different points of view. Ask experienced people for help.

-Be nice to photogs. I shouldn't even have to say this, but carry your share of the gear.

-Be nice to everyone. As much as people move and as small as this business is, everyone knows everyone in a six degrees of separation sort of way. One bad reference can kill a dream job. Make sure everyone with whom you work will say nice things about you.

Wednesday's story ideas

First, sorry there wasn't a post yesterday. I thought I'd hit the right button.... 

Anyway, on to the ideas...

Political issues. Is the term "family values" no longer effective during a political campaign. Some studies show many either don't care or view it as a ploy to get votes.

Milk allergies. Conventional thinking used to say that kids would outgrow them, but that might not be the case.

Flu season. How is it in your market?

The great Wii shortage. Have you checked out how much these things are selling for on ebay?

How to buy jewelry. Most people don't know this product has a huge markup, and the price is often negotiable....

And along those lines...pawn shops are an interesting source for jewelry. With stuff a lot nicer than you might think.

European credit card rebate. If you've shopped across the pond in the last ten years and used a credit card, you might be due a $25 rebate. Details here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Monday's story ideas

Congress moves to eliminate slot machines for overseas soldiers. The Department of Defense apparently used revenue from slots to pay for morale programs. Who knew the military was in the gambling biz? Should be an interesting talker.

Bad weather driving tips, for those of you getting pounded this week.

It's a week till Christmas.... how are retailers doing in your market? And how are the charities faring?

Holiday parties... are cops on the lookout for drunk drivers this week?

What is the most environmentally friendly way to heat your home? And the best firewood?

Feature: Mike up a department store Santa and see what kids really tell the big guy, and what he tells them. (You'll shoot your eye out, kid.)

Nice thing to do this week... ring the bell for an hour or two for the Salvation Army. More fun than you'd think, and a great way to give back.