Saturday, July 23, 2011

This blog and its content are copyrighted. Publishing and other unauthorized uses of any portion of tvnewsgrapevine without expressed written permission are violations of copyright law.

Most people don't know that the moment you write something, your work is copyrighted. You don't have to register it with the U.S. Copyright office. Even if it doesn't contain this copyright symbol © , the work is yours and still subject to copyright law. You might not also realize that the contents of a personal email are also subject to the same laws.

That said, I have received many requests in the past, many from college professors, to re-print various posts made on this site. I also understand that there are other blogs and websites that contain links to this site. If you ask for permission and get it, fine. Links to the blog and/or links to specific posts are also fine. If you want to read what I've written, and what I own, you have to come to this site to do so. I'm not in business to provide content to someone else's site.

In recent days I have become aware that other sites have been publishing my posts, either in part or in their entirety, verbatim without my permission. This is a clear violation of copyright law. In addition, any personal comments I make to anyone via email are also copyrighted, and may not be re-published anywhere in any form without my permission.

In the cases of sites that are revenue generating, this is basically taking content I have created and re-selling it for profit. It's no different than taking a novel, uploading it online without the permission of the author, and making money from it.

This is simply a notice to anyone who wishes to re-use any content from this blog, or any content of any emails sent by me. For instance, if you contact me via email, and I respond, you may not publish any part of my response in print or online. If you would like to use something you must ask for my permission in writing. You may not, under any circumstances, re-publish my blog posts either in part or in their entirety, without my permission.

Those who have taken any content from either this site or any emails and re-published it in any form without my permission should consider this a cease and desist notice and must remove said content from their sites immediately. To not do so would leave someone in violation of U.S. Copyright law, and subject to the penalties associated with said violations.

TVNEWSGRAPEVINE, copyright 2011 © Randy Tatano


Friday, July 22, 2011

Give the viewer a unique view

Back in my black and white childhood I grew up watching the Mets on a Philco TV with rabbit ears. No color, no remote. Every kid in the family was the designated "channel changer." You sat in front of the TV while Mom or Dad gave directions, changing channels until they found something suitable. (You think kids had any say in what was watched? Please.)

Anyway, back to the Mets. So the first time Dad takes me to Shea Stadium, I'm blown away the moment I see the field. Not because I'm s star struck kid...

But because it was in color. The green grass, the blue and orange uniforms, were things that had been colorless on television. Everything seemed to come alive. The game was more vivid.

It was a view I couldn't get at home.

Flash forward forty years. Everything's reversed. In high def I can see the wrinkles on a baseball player I could never see in person. Everything is spectacular in detail.

So what's left? If the viewers have seen the best technology has to offer, how can you impress them? How can you turn them into 1960's kids seeing a ballpark for the first time?

On that first trip to Shea I got something I couldn't get anywhere else. In your next package, give the viewers something they can't get anywhere else.

It might be a piece of b-roll shot from a unique angle. It could be the one angle of a story that hasn't been touched. Maybe it's a different point of view that no one has considered.

These days you have to be different to stand out, both with your resume tapes and with the viewers. The cell phone market is a good example. People rush out to buy the latest model, then a few months later planned obsolescence forces them to think their phone is hopelessly out of date. They need a new one. Right. Now.

Viewers need something new. Right. Now. Every single day. They've seen the digital pictures, the weather graphics that fly inside the clouds. They're inundated with new social networking connections every day. They are starving for something unique.

And what most stations give them is very old stuff. Scanner chasing stories. Interviews with officials. Packages that state the obvious. Live shots where nothing is happening.

Find the elements that people can't get anywhere else. We've done black and white. We've done color.

Time to find the gray areas that really blow everything away.

TVNEWSGRAPEVINE, copyright 2011 © Randy Tatano


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Top ten qualities of a good News Director

Okay, we always talk about red flags here. Maybe it's time to look for the opposite...signs that the person who wants to hire you might be a positive influence.

I guess we can call them green for go.

I've had seven News Directors in my career. A few were terrific. One is still a good friend. I think I spotted a couple in the Harry Potter movie standing behind Lord Voldemort just before the Battle of Hogwarts.

In any case, here are some "green flags" that won't have you leaving skid marks after your interview.

1. Experience in the field. Yes, I know there are probably some good NDs out there who never worked as a reporter or photographer, but nothing beats the hands-on experience of working a story. If you've never done it, it's very hard to understand what it takes to knock out a great story... and deal with the adversity that often comes with putting one together. A ND who has field experience will understand you and your concerns a lot better.

2. Stability at home. If a ND has a rotten life off the clock, said ND often brings that attitude to the newsroom. News Directors who are happily married, or even happily single, are usually easier to work for than those who have a bunch of exes.

3. Even temper. This can be a frustrating business, and everyone can lose it from time to time. But a News Director who constantly yells and screams can have the staff walking on eggshells. If you're on an interview and the staff looks nervous when the ND takes you through the newsroom, it's not a good sign.

4. Open minded to ideas. A News Director who honestly considers all story ideas in the morning meeting instead of running the place like a dictatorship is a blessing.

5. A soul.

6. Knows a little about your personal life and is flexible. Managing a newsroom can be a true juggling act, since everyone is a little different. A ND knows who lives a long way from home and needs to book a flight well in advance, who has a kid graduating from college during sweeps and needs a special day off, who is getting married and needs some time to plan the wedding. Hard and fast rules are really hard to enforce in a newsroom. A ND has to bend a little from time to time.

7. A mentoring attitude. This is especially true in an entry level market. If you're in your first or second job, the last thing you need is to be thrown into the deep end of the pool. You need someone who will give constructive criticism and help you get to the next level.

8. Feedback. The most common complaint I hear is, "I never hear any feedback from my News Director." And the old saying is, "If you don't hear anything, you're doing okay." That isn't helpful. You want someone who will tell you when you've done a great job and when you might have done things a little differently to make your story better.

9. No helicopter. The last thing you want is a manager who hovers over employees all day. A News Director who trusts his staff gets trust back in return... and has a much more relaxed staff that does a better job.

10. A life. A News Director who eats, breathes and sleeps news thinks you should be the same way. You want someone who can turn it off and realize there's more to life than a job.

Tomorrow, 57 qualities of a bad News Director. (Kidding)

TVNEWSGRAPEVINE, copyright 2011 © Randy Tatano


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The News Director's timetable

Most of you see an ad for a job and can't figure out why you sent a great tape and haven't heard anything. Or why you sent a great tape and heard something two months later.

It's because the News Director has a timetable different than your own. And this time of year, there's no rush to do anything.

You're probably thinking that if there's an opening, a News Director drops everything and spends the entire day looking at tapes, interviewing people, etc.

Uh, no.

You still have to put on a daily newscast. You still have to deal with the whims of upper management. You still have to take care of the staff that's already in place.

And in the middle of July, there's no rush to do anything. Why? Well, the November book doesn't start for several months. And many NDs see no reason to add salary in this economy when the next rating period doesn't pop up for awhile.

In many cases the job hunt this time of year is a leisurely one. A News Director knows he needs someone, but his goal might be to get someone hired around Labor Day. That will give that person enough time to get comfortable by the November book. This isn't true of all newsrooms, but it does happen in many of them.

So just because you didn't hear anything in the dog days of summer, it doesn't mean you're out of the running.

It just means the ND doesn't follow your timetable.

TVNEWSGRAPEVINE, copyright 2011 © Randy Tatano


Monday, July 18, 2011

Imagination b-roll

I see one at least once a month. A package that makes me shake my head and come close to picking up the phone and calling the reporter who did it.

Recently I saw one that really stuck out. It was a piece on an animal shelter that was having financial problems and needed money. We saw the building. There was a shot of an empty cage. Stacks of pet food. Several sound bites with people who worked at the shelter, talking about the need for cash to keep the homeless pets alive.

Should have been a touching story. Should have made me open my checkbook and send the shelter a few bucks.

But a key element was missing.

Did I ever see a shot of a cat? Nope. A puppy looking at the camera with sad eyes? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Incredible, a package about animals that didn't show a single animal. I guess the viewers were supposed to close their eyes and imagine Fluffy and Fido waiting for new homes.

In this case, a well done package should have tugged at the hearts of viewers. The reporter could have injected emotion with both words and b-roll. Maybe had a follow-up when bushels of cash rolled in.

Instead it was another story that missed the obvious.

I actually see a lot of these. The main focus of the story is nowhere to be found. Oh, it's talked about with sound bites and voiceovers, but never seen, like a monster in a M. Night Shyamalan movie. Stories about overcrowded classrooms show no kids. Stories about booming businesses show no customers. The viewers may as well be listening to the radio and creating a theater of the mind.

When you head out to a story, take a moment to think about the main topic. Then please, shoot some b-roll that actually shows what you're talking about. I shouldn't have to close my eyes and imagine it.

TVNEWSGRAPEVINE, copyright 2011 © Randy Tatano