Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Who do you trust?

In many ways, a newsroom is like an episode of "Survivor."

There are backstabbers, alliances, manipulations, gossip, and all sorts of behind the scenes chicanery in just about every newsroom that would make a soap opera writer proud.

And when you move from job to job, you're often dropped into a small society of news people without any idea of their inner motivations. How can you know who really wants to be your friend and who is merely sharpening a knife? Who might be the newsroom mole for management? And who will take anything you say and twist it around to make you look bad?

Sorry if I'm scaring you a bit, but "watch your back" is very good advice for anyone in this business. There are people in this business who just aren't very nice.

When you arrive at a new station, people are curious about you. What are your goals? Do you have an eye on someone's anchor job? Is this just a stepping stone and will you be making resume tapes in six months?

So it's important, until you can really determine who the trustworthy souls are, to play your cards close to your vest.

If someone asks how long you're going to stay, just say, "I just got here. I may meet Mister or Miss Right and stay forever."

If someone wants to know if you're gunning for an anchor job, just say, "I'm happy being a reporter."

If you're asked where you're sending resume tapes, just say, "I haven't even put one together."

Remember, you're in a room full of nosy people who snoop around for a living, so any little tidbit of information becomes a juicy bit of gossip that can go viral in a newsroom. Innocent comments can get twisted. Keep your opinions of others, future plans, and really personal stuff to yourself.

You can be friendly and have a good time without being an open book.

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