Thursday, April 11, 2013

The biggest mistake people make on their resume tapes

The President was in your market and you covered it. You broke the story, right?

A school shooting took place in your market. You broke the story, right?

The oil spill coated beaches with oil and you work on the Gulf Coast. You broke the story, right?

Chances are the answers to these questions would be a resounding "no" but chances are very good you've put a story like this right up front on your resume tape. Because you think an important story or a national story makes you seem like a better reporter.

Uh, no it doesn't.

If you take anything from this post, take this: just because a story is national, or the lead story on your newscast, doesn't mean it's a resume tape story. Because it doesn't take anything special to cover a story that's already there.

Several years ago it seems like half the reporters looking for jobs started their tapes off with a Hurricane Katrina story, even if they lived in Montana. This year every reporter in the northeast will probably have a school shooting story. Next year it will be something else.

News Directors don't want reporters who can show up when everything is right in front of you. They want reporters who can come up with enterprise stories, who can dig for information and not have it handed to them by officials. They want people who can turn memorable stories that are unique, that the other stations won't have.

The best story you've ever done may have ended up in the second block of your local newscast, but no one cares where it aired. NDs only care what you did with the story and how you put it together.  They don't care that you once rubbed elbows with the President. They want to see what you can come up with on a day when absolutely nothing is happening.

Show off your reporting skills, not the fact that you happened to be in the middle of a big story because it took place in your neighborhood.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hide the buttons

Sometimes I wonder if there's some secret seminar evil managers attend to learn how to push the emotional buttons of their staff members.  Some of these people have raised it to an art form, not only throwing the knife but twisting it and adding salt before washing it with alchohol.

Creative people are a sensitive lot. As you get older, you begin to see through the mind games people play. But when you're young and unsure of your talent or future, one pointed comment can send your muse into vapor lock. Most of the time you can simply brush it off by considering the source; the manager might be an idiot, a cylon, or just a sick, twisted person who gets perverse joy out of demeaning others.

Trust me, everyone has buttons and they will get pushed at one time or another. How you react is what's important to your career. If you react correctly, you can effectively hide the butttons.

Here are the two most common old standbys that work for just about any young person in the business:

-"You're not ready for this market." (Usually from a ND who hasn't been able to rise out of it.)

-"You might not belong in this business." (Ironically, this often comes from someone who really doesn't belong in this business.)

How you react when your buttons are pushed is crucial. If the manager sees you turn into a quivering lump and your eyes begin to well up, he's gonna keep pushing that button like he's playing Whack-a-Mole at Chuckie Cheese. If, however, you don't show any emotional reaction, chances are he won't hit that button again.

The best thing to do when your emotional buttons are pushed is to head back to the newsroom and start joking around with co-workers. This tells the manager he can't get into your head and takes the air out of his mind games. You may be that quivering mess inside, but you can't show it.

So hide your buttons and keep your game face on. If a manager doesn't know where your buttons are, he can't push them.