Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The electronic confessional

I was seven years old. My legs were shaking and I had broken out in a cold sweat. The wooden door slid open, revealing the familiar silhouette behind the opaque glass. "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned," I said. "This is my first confession." Long pause. "I drew on the wall with a crayon."

If you grew up Catholic, you know that your first confession can be a terrifying experience. Kind of like dealing with a manager who has you walking on eggshells.

Sunday our priest told a story about a man who went to confession and said that he had no sins. The point was this: even though you haven't done anything wrong, you might not have done the things right that you're capable of. In this case, the man hadn't broken any rules, but he hadn't gone out of his way to be a good guy.

Sometimes we're so worried about making a mistake that our creative muse is sent into vapor lock and we forget all the things we can do right. Many times I look at resume tapes and there's really nothing wrong with the packages... but there's a lot the reporter could have done that's missing. And then I have to tell people, "There's nothing wrong with your work. But you can do a whole lot more." The who, what, when, where, why and how might all be in the story; but the reporter has missed certain elements that could have made it better.

Take a look back at your recent stories and don't focus on any mistakes you made, but rather on what you could have done. Did you interview enough people, use enough nat sound? Could your story have been better with a graphic? Was the writing your best, or just enough to get by? Did you just throw together a standup in the field, or really give it some thought?

Doing just enough won't cut it these days, and never has. Those who move up in this business do more than what they're asked, and what is required. It's the extra mile you go that gets you up the ladder.



kelli said...

Your blog is really indispensable to me! Thank you for posting so often too.

Anonymous said...

I second that! It's nice to know there is a media veteran out there who is willing to share advice with others instead of groaning about how the business is dying. Keep it up Grape!