Friday, December 30, 2011

Resolutions you might consider

Most people make pretty normal know, lose weight, quit smoking, send out ten resume tapes each month, etc. But if you're stuck for something meaningful you might give it a little more thought, and it might even help your career.

Considering the state of local news, the business in general, and the fact that viewers are leaving in droves you might think the biz has no future. Let's face it, it is not exactly a growth industry. But while TV News as we know it has an uncertain future, you can still make it better in the present. I'm always reminded of the great Carole Kneeland, the late News Director who worked in Texas and coined the phrase, "It is never the wrong time to do the right thing." Carole had a wonderful view of the news business, as she basically turned down the police scanner and did stories that actually affected people. She also believed in treating people well, something that is often lost in many newsrooms today. If you simply let her famous quote weave its way through your life and career, you might see things in a different light...and make this business a little better.

So, with that in mind, here are a few suggestions to "re-invent" yourself in 2012:

-Make a difference with a story. Once each month, make it a point to knock out a package that makes the world a better place.

-Don't "advance" a story for the sake of advancing. Too often this leads to speculation, rumors and misinformation. We're not in the rumor business. If you have nothing new in the way of hard facts, tell the public just that. Viewers would appreciate the honesty.

-Praise a co-worker in front of someone else. Don't just tell the photog he shot some great video, make sure someone hears you say it.

-Welcome the new person at your station. Too often the new guy gets the cold shoulder because someone else wasn't promoted from within.

-Do stories that really affect the viewer. Don't just take a press release and pass it on. Find two sides of the story, then look for the third point of view... one that affects the average person.

-If you're an on-air person, be nice to the people who make you look good. Treat a photog to lunch, thank the truck op for pulling cables, buy a box of donuts for the morning meeting.

-Don't yell in the newsroom. Ever.

-Bury the ego.

-Spend time in someone else's shoes. If you're a reporter, don't criticize a producer if you've never spent a minute in the control room. If you're a producer, don't send field crews on assignments that can't be completed unless you've spent time in the field. Find out what everyone in the newsroom does and you might have a better appreciation of other points of view.

-Print out the phrase "It is never the wrong time to do the right thing" and stick it above your computer. It might help you make good decisions in the future.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Setting goals for 2012

I know, most of you only have one. "Find a new job."

But achieving that goal takes many steps. Sure, you can send out one tape and get lucky, but in most cases moving up the ladder is a process. Just because you have three good packages and a decent montage doesn't mean you're going anywhere.

The problem is that many young people are so focused on finding those resume tape stories they forget about the day-to-day job of reporting...and taking your eye off the ball can make you miss what could be the story that gets you...wait for it...outta Dodge.

If you do your best every day, the resume tape stories will magically appear.

But you need a set of goals to make those resume tape stories routine. If you're serious about moving on, and I know most of you are, here are the goals you need to set for 2012:

-I will treat every story as if the News Director at the station I want to work for is watching. Even if I receive a horrible assignment, I will go all out and treat it as if it is the last story I will ever do.

-I will pitch at least one enterprise story every day. I will treat looking for enterprise stories as part of my daily routine, even on off days.

-I will look beyond the two sides of the story for the third angle to make my story unique. I will never do a package with a single-source sound bite unless it is a profile piece.

-I will do a creative standup in every story. (Funerals are the exception.)

-I will write to my video and turn a clever phrase when it is appropriate.

-I will use nat sound and creative editing in every story.

-If I am shooting my own video I will always use a tripod.

-If I am working with a photog I will ask for his input as to how the story might be covered.

-I will dress professionally for every story that requires it.

-I will watch reporters and anchors from other markets and networks to get ideas on how to improve my own skills.

-Finally, I will send tapes to any station, whether or not it has an opening, regardless of my experience.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

And Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends as well.

Sorry, I've just had enough of this politically correct "happy holidays" stuff.

May the PC police get coal in their stockings.