Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Snowballs in August

You can be watching a station for the first time, but you can always tell a rookie anchor.

No, it has nothing to do with the person's poise, or delivery, or ability to connect with the viewer. It's the snowball rolling downhill after the first stumble.

Every anchor stumbles, says the wrong word, loses his or her place on the prompter. I've done it a thousand times. So has anyone who's ever sat on the desk. Watch any network newscast and you'll see the main anchors do it.

It's natural. We're not perfect.

Back to the rookie anchors. If it's your first year on the anchor desk, you want to be perfect. You want to get through the newscast flawlessly. You don't want the boss or your co-workers to dwell on that one mistake you made.

And then you make it. Annnnnnnndddddd.....cue the snowball.

Once that first mistake is in the can, the snowball begins its downward journey. If you're not from the snow belt, you don't know that if you roll a snowball along the ground it becomes bigger...and bigger... and bigger... until you've got something the size of a boulder. The same is true for a newscast. A rookie is humming along, cruising through the first block, and then it happens. The first misstep.

And then the snowball starts rolling, because said rookie anchor is dwelling on that mistake. The anchor keeps thinking about it, not focusing on the remainder of the newscast, and then stumbles again, and again. By the end of the newscast the rookie is ready to give up and run like hell from the desk forever.

So here's what successful anchors have: short term memory. You make a mistake, you move on. It's done, gone to Pluto. You can't unring that bell.

And very often the mark of a good anchor is one who recovers so smoothly you don't even notice.

If you're new to the anchor desk, the first thing you must do is realize you're not gonna get through the rest of your career without stumbling. You'll have plenty of clean shows, but there will always be a misstep along the way. The last thing you want to do is start that snowball rolling downhill.

TVNEWSGRAPEVINE, copyright 2011 © Randy Tatano


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