If you're a Harry Potter fan, you know that old Hogwarts rule about help being given to those who ask for it.
The same rule applies to most television newsrooms and most of the people who work in them.
If there's a common denominator among people who work in this business it's this: we're not shy when we're holding a microphone or a camera. But back in the newsroom it's often a different story, especially among young people. We might take no prisoners in the field, but turn into shy wallflowers back at the station.
You see this quite often with interns and rookies. There's always a gentle tap on the door or visit to your desk followed by, "I hope I'm not bothering you." When the kids have a question, they're often afraid to ask.
And if you don't ask, we can't tell you anything.
As my first News Director said, "The only stupid questions are the ones that aren't asked."
We don't expect you to know what IFB means, how chromakey walls work, how to put a reflector back in the sack, or why pointing a microwave at someone can do interesting things to that person's family tree. What we do expect is that you not go out into the field with knowing the answers to the questions you want to ask.
If you don't know how something works, ask. Don't try to figure things out yourself out in the field and have things go haywire. Trust me, most of the people in this business are happy to spend time with young people and help them understand how the business works. Most of us dinosaurs are flattered when some kid asks for help or advice.
I'm often amazed at the emails I get with questions prefaced by, "I know you're busy and hope I'm not wasting your time." Uh, the reason for this blog is to answer questions. Don't be shy, fire away.
I remember one intern who was trying to fax a document. She had never used a fax machine but didn't ask for help. Finally the recipient called the station and told us he was receiving a bunch of blank faxes. She had been putting the page in face up instead of face down. All she had to do was ask, "How does this fax machine work?" but she was afraid of looking dumb. Instead, she looked dumb for not asking.
Don't worry about looking stupid if you ask what you think is s stupid question. You'll look stupid if you try to do something without asking.