Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Job Hunting Guide

Over the years the topics on this blog have pretty much centered on three subjects: finding a job, being a better journalist, and dealing with office politics. One of the most common comments I've received over the years about this blog has been, "This stuff isn't in any textbook."

Well, it is now.

I have put together a book which hopefully encompasses all those little things about the business that can help you move up the ladder. From package construction to office politics to management Jedi Mind Tricks. The title is "Broadcast Journalism Street Smarts: a 2012 Survival Guide for Today's Television Newsroom." It's not so much a textbook as it is a guide to help you navigate the minefield known as the television news industry. Since those in the business seem to spend half their time looking for another job, it is also a job hunting guide, with plenty of advice and tricks to help you find that next gig.

It is now available from Amazon in both paperback and Kindle. You can also get really fast service clicking on the Amazon/Createspace link on the right... that's Amazon's publishing house.

Hope you'll check it out and pass the word to your friends and your old J-schools.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Turning it off

Eventually you'll run into a boss who is classified as both "Type A" and "workaholic." While they may be productive, the one problem they have is they simply don't understand the creative mind needs to do something mindless from time to time.

I've had a few bosses who thought everyone in the newsroom should work 24/7, who assumed people were wasting time if they had a simple conversation not related to the business. Some would probably consider lining up cots in the station so that people could live there like stranded airline travelers.

We once got a new News Director who fit the profile. On one occasion I was talking to the reporter at the next desk. We'd both gotten our stories in the can and we were chatting about the weekend. Phone rings. It's him.

"I don't pay you and her overtime to sit around talking," he snapped.

"You don't pay us overtime, period," I said. "We're both salaried." (Of course, I wouldn't have said this if I hadn't already given a two-week notice.)

While these people may have no lives, and wish to inflict their lack of said lives on everyone else, you need a life outside the station. And if you're a creative type, you need to turn it off when you go home. Yes, you always need to be vigilant and keep an eye out for a good story, but when you use your mind all day you have to go to the other end of the spectrum and do something mindless. The simpler, the better. We don't work on an assembly line; our jobs don't put us into the equivalent of highway hypnosis. That's why it's imperative to have simple, fun things to do when you're off the clock.

Find something, or several things, that can take your mind to another place. If you wanna do a jigsaw puzzle, great. Paint the house, do some gardening, play cards, shoot hoops, whatever. Just take some time to give your mind some time off.

And never skip a vacation. Take every single day to which you're entitled. Your body may not feel tired, but trust me, your mind (and your muse) needs a break.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Every silly sweeps stunt you can think of is trumped by solid reporting

Over the years I've seen it all during sweeps, as news management and the promotions department pull out all the stops to get viewers. I've seen all sorts of giveaways, from tanks of gasoline to trips to a used car. (Long story, cheap station, don't ask.) Now every station seems to think some sort of social networking tactic will bring eyeballs to the newscast, as if people obsessed with Twitter are more concerned with the news of the day than their cell phones. Airing the "tweet of the day" on your newscast doesn't mean you've snagged a loyal viewer. It might just mean some teenage girl can brag that her text message made it on television.

And of course those of you who are reporters are given the directive to go all out during sweeps. You must have a standup in every story! (You should be doing that anyway.) You must find interesting angles to every story! (You should be doing that anyway.) You must have great video so that we can tease every story! (You should be getting that anyway.)

In case you hadn't figured this out, the stuff you do during sweeps as far as reporting is concerned is stuff you should be doing every single day. Do we go the extra mile during sweeps? Sure. But we should go the extra mile on every story. A couple of old sayings from my former News Director: "There are no boring stories, only boring reporters." And the classic, "We're in sweeps every day."

You don't just pick up viewers in February, May and November. You get them by doing solid work in the dog days of August, or that week after Christmas.

Sweeps stunts are a lot like restaurant coupons. You might get a free meal, but if the food is lousy, you won't go back. Ironically, the free food isn't "worth the price."

Same deal with news. You might get a viewer to take a look, but if the content isn't there, they won't stick around.

The only effective sweeps stunt is a solid newscast. And it starts and ends with you, whether it's February or August.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

New York Giants to-do list

Cheeseheads (Green Bay): Done

Potheads (San Francisco): Done

Chowderheads (New England): DONE!


Top ten reasons to root for the Giants

1. Tom Brady has a heated toilet seat. Can you say "high maintenance?"

2. Patriots don't marry and/or date real women. Brady is married to a supermodel, Wes Welker engaged to a Hooters calendar girl, Rob Gronkowski hangs out with a young lady who, shall we say, is not the kind of girl you'd bring home to Mom. Eli Manning married college sweetheart.

3. The Giants are a family organization. Starting guard Chris Snee is married to Coach Tom Coughlin's daughter.

4. Giselle never smiles. Supermodel status, Hall of Fame husband, heated toilet seat, and she still has that barroom death stare force field look that says, "How dare you cast your gaze at me and don't even THINK about asking me to dance."

5. Bill Belichick once quit his job with the New York Jets by writing his resignation letter on a cocktail napkin.

6. Patriots once caught cheating and lost their first round draft choice.

7. Giants had enough class not to bring back Plaxico Burress and/or Tiki Barber.

8. Let's be honest... if the Ravens don't drop a touchdown and shank a field goal attempt, the Patriots aren't even here.

9. The Giants owner's mom chastised Terry Bradshaw on national television.

10. Cruuuuuuuuzzzzzz!