Thursday, August 4, 2011

Creativity award of the week

Okay, first let me say that I despise rap music. In fact, despise is too nice of a word. In fact, the term "rap music" is an oxymoron.

However, check out the weatherguy who did something very clever with his forecast...


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Morning show reporter: the NEW worst job in television news

Most of the emails I receive are from people wanting advice, usually about how to get out of a particular situation. Usually I can come up with some sort of answer.

But there's a dilemma for which there is no solution. If you're stuck being the live reporter on a morning newscast, it's like being in purgatory. You can't get yourself out. Someone's gotta pray you outta there.

Unless you have an agreement with your News Director about eventually getting off this shift, you're trapped. The big problem is this: you never, ever get to do a decent package showing up for work at two in the morning. You'll chase the scanner and stumble onto a big fire or crime spree once in awhile, but those wonderful enterprise stories you'll need for your resume tape just don't exist before dawn. About the only tape you'll be able to put together is one for... another morning show reporting gig.

I know a few morning show reporters who haven't done packages in more than a year. Every morning show reporter I know hates the job. The live shots are all basically the same.

Then there's your off the clock time. You have no life.

If you're offered a job like this think long and hard about accepting it. And if you do, you'll need something in writing that will eventually get you off the shift.

TVNEWSGRAPEVINE, copyright 2011 © Randy Tatano

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Memo to those with Y chromosomes and sports obsessions

First, let me say that out of all the hats I've worn in this business, the most fun I ever had was doing play-by-play. Baseball, football, basketball, it didn't matter. There's a rush that comes with the play-by-play hat that blows everything else away.

That said, I'm talking about the past, when sports was an integral part of a newscast. Still is, in my opinion, but in the grand scheme of things sports has been shoved to the back burner.

Once again, we have consultants to blame for this. Their theory that, "People who love sports are watching ESPN" stuck a dagger into sports departments around the country. (The only time I watch ESPN is when the Mets or Football Giants are playing. And I'm a sports junkie.) Suddenly News Directors were told to cut down on sports coverage or eliminate it completely.

We can argue the concept till doomsday, but it's a reality. There aren't as many sports jobs out there. Plus, it doesn't help if you don't fall into one of these categories:

-Nepotism: Joe Buck? Son of Cardinals play-by-play great Jack Buck. Thom Brennaman? Son of Marty. Jeremy Schapp? Son of Dick Schapp. Marv Albert's relatives? I could go on forever. These guys never paid dues and got the jobs you wanted.

-Ex-jocks: Well, you need guys who have actually played the game for color commentary. Some are very good, and the ex-jock factor gives them an advantage. (With the exception of Tiki Barber.)

-Women: When I broke into the business, you never, ever saw a woman doing sports. Back then you'd say, "fly pattern" and you'd expect a gal to grab a Simplicity catalog. Now it's no big deal and men are comfortable watching a woman who is well versed in sports. Hey, good for them, and it's about time.

So, that thins the opportunities considerably. So what's a guy to do?

Well, consider that in the past few years two of my friends who were major market sports directors switched to news.

Hello, McFly! There's a shortage of men in the newsroom. Guys who do news. Not sports. Not weather. News.

Back when I was in management, I'd guess about 80-90 percent of reporter tapes that came in were from women. It got to the point where you couldn't find young competent male anchors or reporters. And check out any classroom in any broadcasting school. The few guys there want to do weather or sports.

So, if you're a guy, seriously consider a career in the news department. Trust me, male reporters and anchors are in great demand. Is news as much fun? Nope. But you'll have a much easier career path.

TVNEWSGRAPEVINE, copyright 2011 © Randy Tatano


Monday, August 1, 2011

So much for "nobody's watching in the summer"

One of the biggest news weeks in television history occurred in July of 1969. Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, Ted Kennedy took an ill-fated drive across a bridge, Muhammad Ali was convicted of dodging the draft, the Russians did a little nuclear testing.

But it's summer. As I've heard managers say for years, "Nobody's watching."

Something caught my eye the other day...a little story that network news is up five to seven percent over the past year. A million more viewers for a format universally described as "dead" because of the Internet.

And this weekend networks trotted out their varsity teams to cover a story that impacts us all. Oh yeah, this past week the NFL settled its lockout, and baseball had its trading deadline.

But nobody's watching. It's summer. Nothing's going on.

Proof once again that content is king. Give viewers something interesting, and they'll tune in. And let's face it, the networks are canceling soap operas but we've got a new dysfunctional reality show called Congress. It's getting as good as the Ewings and the Barnes on "Dallas."

We can't wait for news to happen, but when it does we have to jump in with both feet.

And when news isn't falling in our laps as it has the past few weeks, we have to look for stuff to keep the viewers interested.

It's summer. People are watching.

As long as you give them something interesting.

TVNEWSGRAPEVINE, copyright 2011 © Randy Tatano