Friday, September 16, 2011

Mailbag: Welcome to the real world of "news"


I just graduated and got my first job. It seems that all we do is chase the scanner. Then I see car chases on various networks. It appears everything I learned in J-school isn't true. I thought we're supposed to look for real stories, but instead we just cover what I consider garbage. Or is this stuff real news?

Nope, it's not news. People die in wrecks every day. Police chase bad guys every day. Some stations are airing this stuff to appeal to the lowest common denominator (people who have no life, those who live and die with reality shows) in the hopes of boosting ratings. In reality, they simply chase away intelligent viewers, those that advertisers dearly love. And so the death spiral of local news continues.

I'm glad that you figured this out at such a young age. Now go find a real story and pitch it in the morning meeting.

Hey Grape,

I hear horror stories about News Directors but mine is a really nice guy, never yells, and gives me feedback. Is this that unusual?

To be honest, yeah. But count your blessings, and if you're in a place you like, you should consider staying. Meanwhile, bust your tail for this guy... if he moves on, you may want to go with him. Finding a News Director who is supportive and trusts you to do your job without being a helicopter manager is not easy. But there are plenty of decent human beings in this business. The demons are just the ones who get all the press.

By the way, you can usually find plenty of dirt on the NDs who are jerks, and nothing on those who are nice.

Dear Grape,

My News Director just told me I don't belong in this business. This is my first job and I'm really beginning to have doubts about my talent. Should I cut my losses and try something else?

Geez, I've heard this story way too many times. From people who turned out to be very successful.

One opinion means nothing. If you believe in yourself, you owe it to yourself to follow your dream. If you suddenly turn 30 and you're not on your way to where you want to be, then try something else.

There are plenty of late bloomers in this business, and sometimes it takes a year for the reporting light bulb to go on. There are also News Directors who love cutting people down and don't have a clue when it comes to spotting talent. A good ND is patient with a rookie.

Hang in there and focus on your goal. Only you can kill your dream. No one else has that power.



Joey H said...

The last writer should have someone else critique his/her work. Sign up for some coaching from Grape, or post a story or two in the Storytellers group on Facebook. That way you'll get some good feedback from professionals who aren't trying to play mind games.

-The Grape said...

Joey, please tell me more about this Storytellers group... first I've heard of it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Grape:

Where are all the young reporters? I can't seem to find a quality VJ with any experience?
I am in Green Bay and the pickings are slim. Are the latest kids out of college going bigger if they can shoot and edit?
Green Bay wasn't a starter market in the past.
I have two jobs listed and not enough qualified applicants.

-The Grape said...

I have some talented young clients. Send me your contact info and I'll put them in touch with you.

Market size doesn't mean much these days... people are looking for quality of life, a good company, and photogs if you've got 'em.

As for Green Bay, I suspect the cold weather is probably scaring a bunch of people away. Watching that Giants-Packers game a few years ago would scare me.

Jobless said...

I am seriously considering Green Bay as my next jump. I have about one year under my belt as a one-man-band reporter and anchor. Please visit my website, and contact me if you would like some of my most recent work. Thank you!

-The Grape said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
-The Grape said...

There ya go, Green Bay ND. Amanda is already in upstate New York, so you won't have to buy her a down coat. Plus, she's from Joisey. Fuhgeddaboudit!

Best of luck, Amanda.

Jobless said...

Ha, that's very true! I've got my coat and boots ready!

Thanks Tony!

Jobless said...

I just realized I called you Tony. I'm sorry Randy, I was thinking in Italian, haha. Can't wait to buy your book!

-The Grape said...

At least "Tony" is a much better Italian name than the one I have.