Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mailbag: Don't order the combo plate


I spotted a job listing that is for someone who can be a producer and reporter. Apparently you would produce a few days a week and report the other days. Is this a good way to showcase your reporting skills, and do these positions usually lead to full time reporter positions?

Back in my day, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, this would have been known as getting a "foot in the door." Now it is usually a tactic used in car dealerships which has wormed its way into the news business: the bait and switch.

I've heard this story time and again. Reporter gives up full time reporting gig for combo job even though said reporter has no desire to be a producer. After a while another producer quits, the reporter is pressed into producing full time. The ND then claims, "We can't find anyone," and the reporter ends up stuck in the producer role. What makes this worse is that it is now impossible to put together a good tape in order to move on.

If you wanna be a reporter, get a reporter job. If you wanna produce, ditto.

I'm sure there have been cases of combo jobs leading to full time reporter gigs, but I haven't heard of one yet.

The only combo jobs that are legit are those for weekend anchors who do sports and weather, who may have to report during the week.


Our assignment editor leaves the scanner on at an ear splitting level. We can't hear ourselves think. When he goes to lunch we turn it down, then he gets mad when he comes back and cranks it even higher. Any suggestions?

Perhaps nothing annoyed me more during my career than scanner chatter, and thankfully I worked for a bunch of stations that didn't chase car wrecks.

But instead of voicing your displeasure by turning the thing down when he's out, politely ask if he can lower the volume. If he can hear it, the whole world doesn't need to.

Your other option is to help find him another job by subtly recommending him to other stations. Talk to other reporters about how wonderful he is. Then your problem becomes someone else's problem. Devious, huh?


Why do some stations go nuts during the July book and others let their people take vacations?

The July book is only useful for last place stations. If they get good ratings, the sales department can spin things to make it look like things are improving. But most advertisers are wise to this.

Dear Grape,

I just got promoted to weekend anchor and also have to produce my own newscast. But I seem to have trouble choosing a lead story. Any help?

Well, when in doubt, pick up the phone and call management. At least that will save you the trouble of getting reamed on Monday morning.

One big problem young people have is that they tend to think stories important to their generation are important to everyone else. You have to look at the big picture, and try to choose the story that is not only important, but affects and interests the most people.

Unless it's a story about Lindsay Lohan.


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