Friday, January 15, 2010

Mailbag: Gave notice, now no more live shots


Okay, this really puzzles me. I've done a good job at my station and had a good relationship with management. I just gave my notice as I'm taking another job and now I'm not doing any more live shots. No one will give me a straight answer as to why this is happening. Did I do something wrong?

You didn't do anything wrong, but in the past people have been known to slam their soon-to-be-former employers on live television. So many stations do that sort of thing.

An example of this is what's going on with Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien, as both continue to hammer the company that signs their paychecks. Of course, in their cases they have enough money so they never have to work again. But stations often live in fear of an on-camera person saying something embarrassing on the final day.

What viewers find terribly annoying are the stations that never give any explanation as to what happened to on-camera people. Most stations will have some sort of goodbye on the last day, "Jennifer is leaving us for a job in New York, and we'd like to wish her the best." But others do nothing, forcing people to call the station and ask, "What happened to Jennifer?" and get the, "She no longer works here," response.


How many years experience do you need before it is permissible to send a tape to a major market?

Oh, this is the best letter of the week. Permissible? Do you think the resume tape police will show up at your door, cuff you, and haul you away to resume tape jail if you send a tape to a big market?

Sorry, you get a shot with the cluegun. You can send tapes ANYWHERE, ANYTIME. You might get lucky and either get a job or find a ND who likes your potential and stays in touch. If they don't like you, they'll never remember you sent a tape.

There are dozens of stories of reporters and anchors who started in major markets and networks with zero or very little experience. Why not you?


I'm new to the business and heard a veteran use the term, "Strip the wire." I'm too embarrassed to ask what that means. Can you explain?

Sure. Years ago wire machines, along with typewriters, provided wonderful natural sound to a newsroom. Now they're too quiet.

Anyway, the wire machine was a large metal soldier about the size of a water cooler that pounded away all day, pouring out a continuous roll of paper with stories printed on it. If there was a big story, the machine's bell would ring. People would take turns stripping the wire, which meant that you had to get to the end of the paper and start separating the stories. Generally, wire machines had this flip-down fiberglass top that you could use as a straight edge to cut the paper. When you were done, you had to separate the stories by impaling them on nails that were protruding from the wall. They had labels like "national" "local" "sports" and "feature."

Of course, if you did this in a hurry you ran the risk of impaling your own hand. Hence, the first aid kit next to the wire machine.

The worst part of this was having to change the ribbon, a task which generally fell to the rookie on the staff. It would leave you covered in black ink, so most stations had this industrial strength hand cleaner above the wire machine.

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