Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mailbag: Looking back into a crystal ball


Just curious...looking back to the time you got into the business, what was the common denominator for the people you worked with who made it to the top, or at least to a great market?

Wow, excellent question. I often am asked if there is some sort of formula for success. If there were, I'd write a book with the recipe.

But since you asked me to look back, I took some time to think about the people with whom I worked who were getting their feet wet at the same time I was. (Bear in mind that my memory isn't what it used to be, and that yesterday I actually put the coffee pot in the refrigerator.)

-One of the most talented people I ever knew had his career take a bizarre turn simply because of a change in management. I really thought this guy would hit it big, but life threw some real wild cards in his direction and he got out of the business.

-One of the biggest airheads I've ever known made it to a major market. And yes, she was drop dead gorgeous.

-Two guys who were very talented made it to a network but couldn't stay there. Not sure why, but their careers peaked early and then headed downward.

-One very talented woman made it to a major market, had kids, and got out of the business to be a mom.

-One incredibly talented woman simply had no desire to move out of a small market, and made a career there despite offers from big markets.

-One clueless reporter who had just about every script re-written by management got a major market job on the strength of his writing.

-Two of the best reporters I've ever known who were both health nuts came down with catastrophic illnesses after making it to major markets.

-One of the worst human beings I've known who cheated on his wife and hit on everything in a skirt made it to a network and is still there. (As a good friend said of this, "Cream and jerks often rise to the top.")

-A terrific anchor got out of the business because she simply got sick of job hunting.

-And a whole bunch of people who were at best mediocre made it to big markets or the network. Each time this happened, people in the newsroom who knew them simply shook their heads in amazement.

So, bottom line, there's no way to predict whether you'll be successful or not. Sometimes the stars align, sometimes they don't. (I have another idea for a book called "Why good things happen to bad people.")

The best thing you can do is to always do your best so that your odds of being successful will improve.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is so true and unfortunate. I think every newsroom has similar stories. Good to hear it happens in other newsrooms because it's been frustrating seeing so many awful reporters and on-air talent make it to markets without knowing how to write, shoot or even edit properly. Thanks for sharing.