Thursday, February 2, 2012

Will you be ready when the call comes?

Time for an inspirational story. (You didn't really think we'd get through the week without some reference to the New York Giants, did you?


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sweeps start on Ground Hog Day: If your News Director sees a shadow, it's that of an executioner

Ah, the day before sweeps. There's an equation that applies to this particular time.

The amount of stress during any sweeps period is directly proportional to the salary of any member of a news staff.

In other words, the more money you make, the bigger the target you are. Bad book came in? Guess who gets the blame? Not the lowly street reporters or assistant producers. It starts at the top down.

So if you see you News Directors and anchors start twitching today, you know why.

Problem with sweeps is that they are often not a true indication of what viewers are watching. The theory is that it sometimes takes a year and a half for true results to filter through. So that great news product you've been knocking out this February might not show up in the numbers till next November.

Several years ago I worked in a newsroom that was always in a neck and neck race for number one. We avoided the scanner and had the white collar viewers; the other station went after viewers whose lips move when they read.

Anyway, News Director moves on right before sweeps, new ND that everyone hates moves in. Ratings come in, we're number one. New guy thinks his changes are the reason. (Yeah, making people miserable makes them put out a great product.) It was simply the aftereffects of what we'd done months earlier.

So sometimes anchors and News Directors can unfairly take the blame for a bad book. A new guy can come in and have to deal with the results of the previous regime, which might not have been very good.

While we live and die by the ratings, you have to put them in perspective. Many times you don't need ratings to validate the quality of your work.


Monday, January 30, 2012

In case you hadn't noticed, your News Director might also be looking for a job

"Get me outta here" is the time honored battle cry of newsroom staffers who can't wait to find a new job.

But guess what? Your News Director might also feel the same way.

Ever check the "moving on" section of Scroll down a little more and you'll see the list of new News Directors who have changed addresses. Hmmmm, lots of moves there as well. Basically, the average ND stays at a job between two and three years... just like most reporters.

And if your ND is looking for a job, this might explain a few things. A few things to look for that are clues he might be sending out tapes as fast as you are:

-Your News Director used to be very involved in the operation, but has grown distant and doesn't seem to care much.

-You find him making copies of the latest ratings book.

-You notice he doesn't have a good relationship with the GM, corporate, or both.

-He is increasingly frustrated with cheap ownership, and not shy about saying so.

-Every time a new piece of large equipment arrives, he takes the box home. Packing!

-He takes an odd day off in the middle of the week. Interview!

Yes, News Directors also want to move up the ladder, just as much as you do. If you're a reporter in Palookaville and can't wait to move on, do you think he wants to stay in Palookaville as well? He has dreams and goals too.

There are other reasons NDs move on... helicopter General Managers, companies that throw nickels around like manhole covers, frustration with the production department. On the other side of the coin, you may work for a good company that promotes from within, and your ND may have been promised the next step up the ladder when a spot opens up within the group. So if you see an announcement about another ND within the chain moving on, don't be surprised if your guy fills that spot.

All the more reason I warn you guys to have an "escape tape" ready to go. The new guy might come in and clean house, or just not like your style for whatever reason.

Just keep in mind that News Directors move on as well... so don't be surprised if you run into yours at the post office.