Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ask Santa to bring you a new hat for Christmas

Back in the 80's, another reporter told me, "You wear more hats than Bella Abzug." Abzug, for those under 40, was a New York Congresswoman who always wore different hats; it became her trademark.

In my case he meant that I had done just about every job in the newsroom.

Over the years I've been a reporter, anchor, weather anchor, sports anchor, producer (ugh), and for one week in hell, assignment editor. I also loved to edit, and cut most of my own packages. My first News Director had told me it was important to be versatile, so I tried to learn a little about every job in the newsroom.

These days versatility is a must, because if you can do only one thing, you're not as marketable.

This past year two of my friends who have spent their entire careers doing sports switched to news. They saw the handwriting on the wall (sports being phased out, shortage of male anchors) and even though they were working in major markets, they used their versatility to make the transition. But the key is that they are both smart guys who have always kept up on current events; had they been two people who only read the sports page, it wouldn't have worked.

And now there are even more hats out there in the newsroom boutique. You have to write fast and write well in order to write for the web. You have to know a little about other jobs in the newsroom, because one day your ND may ask you if you're interested in doing weather. And if you have the luxury of photogs who edit for you, you'd better be looking over their shoulders and learn how to cut a package; the day may come when you'll have to do everything yourself.

In the next decade, versatility is the new black. If you can do several things well, you may just trump someone who is more talented but can only do one thing.

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