Monday, September 19, 2011

The source of your feedback is often more important than the feedback itself

The biggest complaint I hear from reporters is the same one I had twenty years ago. "I never hear anything from my News Director." And the old saying that followed was, "If you don't hear anything, you're doing okay." This lack of feedback from managers made things worse when you actually did talk to the ND, as the staff simply assumed that if you're called into his office, the news must be bad. An assumption that still exists today.

So, where do you get feedback if you're not getting any from your boss? Well, you need to be careful here, as often times bad feedback is worse than no feedback.

Mom and Dad will tell you you're wonderful, and in my case, continually ask why the network doesn't hire you. Your close friends will never tell you anything bad. College professors are a mixed bag, some so bogged down in theory that they wouldn't know a good reporter from a crash dummy. But you still have options.

Every station has a solid veteran who doesn't mind helping out the rookies. Seek out these people. Don't drive them nuts with questions, but occasionally ask, "How could my package have been better?" Even better, if you don't have an idea of how to approach a package, talk to the vet before you head out the door to shoot your story.

And if you're at one of those stations that has photogs, make use of their ideas. These people are often the smartest people in the newsroom, and look at stories with a different eye. You should always talk to the photog on the way to the story. I got into the habit of including photogs in interviews. When I was done asking questions, I'd turn to the shooter and say, "Anything you want to add?" Very often the photog had a good question I hadn't considered.

Too many people aren't getting feedback, but in many cases you have to take the initiative to ask. Just make sure you ask the right people.

TVNEWSGRAPEVINE, copyright 2011 © Randy Tatano


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