Monday, July 11, 2011

Life isn't fair. Broadcasting REALLY isn't fair.

I remember the day clearly. We had a great news team at the time, with just a few exceptions. It was clear the team wouldn't be together long, for all the talent in the room.

And then the news spread through the newsroom in a manner that today would be classified as "viral." One of our reporters had gotten a job in a big market.

It was our weakest reporter.

The looks on the faces of others in the newsroom were filled with puzzlement. A few "you gotta be kidding me's" were heard from various staffers. I just shook my head and wondered what I'd been doing wrong.

The reporter in question had no street smarts, had most packages seriously re-written by management, and wasn't really seen by everyone else in the newsroom as part of the team. And yet someone in a big market obviously saw something this reporter had that the rest of us didn't.

Trust me, this will happen to you. You may think of yourself as one of those people who takes joy in the success of others, but when someone who truly doesn't deserve to head up the ladder leapfrogs over you, it can make your blood boil. You clench your jaw and grudgingly wish that person congratulations, but in your mind you're wondering how this person could possibly get another job.

It all falls into the "life is not fair" category. It's true in all walks of life, but especially in this business. You may be the best reporter on the planet, but not have that square anchorman's jaw or classic model cheekbones. You may have all the qualities News Directors want in a reporter or anchor, but if you're not exactly what a particular ND is looking for at the moment, you're not getting the job.

Luck is a major factor in this business. So is appearance. You can't do much about either.

But luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. The best thing you can do is seize the opportunity you have each day to do a great job, and hope that the next time a ND is hiring, you're exactly what he's looking for.


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