Thursday, July 5, 2012

A title doesn't make you smart

I was a starry-eyed rookie just like the rest of you were in those first days on the job. Especially when I was handed an assignment to interview a Congressman.

A Congressman! Wow! Surely this guy had something special, was smarter than the rest of us, was the cream of the crop. After all, he was one of a few hundred people running the country. He must be close to a genius, right?

So, the hair gets trimmed the day before, the best suit goes on. What the hell, let's go the full classy look with cuff links.

And then I meet the guy. Crash dummy. Didn't have a clue about half the questions I'd prepared, and these weren't exactly gotcha questions.

I learned that day what most of us know now thanks to 24/7 cable news. Most of us are smarter than the many of the people holding political office.

I also learned a title means nothing. Many of those people in Washington DC are there due to nepotism, old money, connections.

The same is true of television news.

I've worked for a lot of News Directors and General Managers and owners in my day. Some were very smart, clever people.

The others? A lot of crash dummies.

Some got their jobs because they were sons of famous people. Some were good salesmen and given the job of running things even thought they had no clue about news. Some played a good game of golf with the right people. Some were rich and just bought the place, treating it like an expensive toy.

Don't assume because someone has risen to the title of News Director or General Manager that said person is one of the smartest people in the building. He or she may be the best bean counter, the best salesperson, the best gunslinger in the opinion of corporate. Those owners and corporate people may have been born rich, may have been connected, may have never paid dues.

And just because someone has the title of "agent" doesn't mean that person knows more about the business than you do.

Titles are just that. Words. Judge people by what they know and how they treat others.


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