Friday, May 21, 2010

When in Rome...

When you think about it, most of us are fishes out of water.

Few of us ever get to work in our hometowns. We often end up in faraway places, where the culture and the people are different. And sometimes trying to fit in is a difficult trick.

It was (and still is at times) hard for me. I think people from the New York area and the Northeast in general have it the worst because we're so different. We're edgy, impatient, talk too fast, and can get in your face at times. My sarcastic sense of humor didn't play well in some places far from the Big Apple. And over the years I've heard, "We don't care how you did it in New York" more than a few times.

It can be frustrating trying to fit in when you're a long way from home. "What do you mean, you never heard of pastrami? Fuhgeddaboudit."

If you are the fish out of water, you really have to almost bury your heritage while you're trying to fit in. Sometimes you're sent to cover something that seems truly bizarre to you but normal to the locals. (Like when I was sent to cover a tractor pull.)

The practice of telling viewers where you're from doesn't do you any good either. They just see you as a carpetbagger, yet another outsider who is just passing through town on the way up the ladder.

Then there are the people in the newsroom who are locals. They'll resent the fact that you have absolutely no intention of staying, as you consider their city just another town. To them it's special. It's home.

So remember, when hopping around the country, you're a guest, both in the newsroom and on the air. That attitude will do wonders if you're trying to fit in.

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