You think Halloween is scary? Try looking inside the mind of a News Director whose head might be on the chopping block.
Yes, NDs fear for their jobs like everyone else, some more so than others. It's strange that some NDs are so disliked by their employees that the staff actually hopes for a bad book so he'll get the boot. Though most of us have too much personal pride to tank it out in the field.
But tomorrow is a good day for body language if you wanna know where your ND stands with upper management. Here's what you can look for:
The ND who knows he's safe: This News Director cheerfully brings donuts to the morning meeting to kick off sweeps in a positive manner. There's no frantic running around the newsroom during the day, no micro-managing, no looking over shoulders. Chances are the ratings are good and his job is secure. He treats this day like any other.
The ND on the bubble: Let the twitching begin. This News Director shows up early the first day of sweeps looking like he took a bath in itching powder. He goes over the top in the morning meeting telling reporters exactly how stories should be covered, and demands producers schedule tons of meaningless live shots. In and out of the newsroom all day, he turns into a helicopter manager, hovering over desks, checking every script before air, and not even going out to lunch.
The ND whose head is about to be lopped off and rolled down the steps of the Mayan temple: You get a few more clues in this scenario, as the newsroom is usually graced with the micro-managing presence of the General Manager in the morning. This ND arrives with Samsonite under the eyes from lack of sleep and frantically runs the morning meeting like a crazed dictator. Never leaves the newsroom all day, refuses to take suggestions that he go to lunch, or at least eat it at his desk and get out of the newsroom. When news time arrives he stands in front of the bank of monitors, firing remotes like Clint Eastwood in fear of seeing a story his staff missed on another station.
By the way, if you're new at this, November ratings arrive for most stations a few weeks after the book ends. So Christmas can come early for just about everyone, depending on your point of view.