Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The snowball

Even if you didn't grow up in the northern part of the country, you probably know what the term "snowball rolling downhill" means. As kids we loved making a decent sized snowball, rolling it down the very large hill near my house and watching the thing grow and grow and grow and end up like a boulder.

There are snowballs that roll downhill in television news, and they only appear in the middle of newscasts. I'm talking about what happens when some idiot in management thinks it is a good idea to get on the phone and ream someone out while the person is still on the air.

I've seen this countless times. Anchor, producer or director either screws up or does something management doesn't like. Rather than wait for the newscast to end to discuss this, the helicopter manager waits for the next commercial break, then grabs the phone and calls the person.

At this point you may as well put color bars on the air, because the newscast is shot to hell.

The victim becomes the proverbial snowball, thinking, "I'd better not screw up again" and ends up walking on eggshells. And you can't do your best work when you're concentrating on making not mistakes. The result is often the opposite. You just make more of them, as the problem rolls downhill and gets bigger and bigger.

I've seen anchors go into vapor lock when this happens. I've seen a director get so twitchy he could barely punch the rest of the newscast.

What can you do if you're a victim of what I consider rather transparent attempts to get under your skin and gain power over you? You have to be tough and consider the source. Consider the tactic, and what the management person is trying to do. And then you have to say to yourself "whatever" and move on.

Criticizing someone during a newscast is one of the most pathetic tactics used by managers. Grow a thick skin and don't become a snowball.


No comments: