Post by Mike Brannen
It may be cliche, but this is a good weekend to take time and recognize all the things TV newscast producers should be thankful for. Without these things, it would be much harder to get our job done.
It is hard to fathom how reporters and managers successfully communicated between each other without a cell phone or email access. Veteran journalists somehow gathered information and interviews in the field, came back to the station, and filed a report, despite having very little conversation with a manager or editor. Amazingly, they pulled it off. I am thankful we’ve moved past the “dark days” of communicating. But, it is also amusingly ironic that with cell phones and email that you could argue communication still hasn’t improved.
Great Enterprise/Dogged Reporters
I call them the “rock stars” of the newsroom. They come to the table with terrific ideas when it’s a slow news day. When a story demands a reporter who can hunt down the key interview with a victim/witness, they get it done. They have a certain je ne sais quoi about them, and make magical things happen for newscasts. I am thankful they have the determination to go the extra mile for our station.
Easily reachable experts
We face a story where the key source is only offering a pithy statement. We face a story where we need someone to provide intelligent, meaningful context. We have experts who can bail us out. They are knowledgeable, well-read, well-spoken, and readily available. The last trait is particularly valuable, because time is never on our side before deadline. I am thankful we have a good rolodex of these people.
I’m not talking about your dayturn, fluffy, soft news story. I’m talking about the five-minute long report saved for a holiday when news is as scarce as water in a desert. It’s a good story that eats up time in my newscast, without making viewers change the channel. A win-win for producers. I am thankful these make holidays newscast less tough to stack.
I’ve had directors who don’t budge an inch about what they expect from producers, and don’t tolerate pre-show errors. I’ve also had directors who have wiggle room about ideas, and respectfully point out mistakes before air. I greatly prefer the latter, and am thankful for their patience and professionalism.
I can’t count how many story tips and ideas I’ve found through my constant stream of tweets. From breaking news, to sports updates, to potential interviewees, to “water cooler” stories, I am thankful for the platform that provides a variety of newsworthy information.
Finally, I am thankful for the incomparable community of journalists who understand the challenges we all face. We’re able to share our stories of tough days, sympathize with each other, and move on. It is great to have support from wonderful people who know exactly what it takes to work in news.
Mike Brannen is a newscast producer for KSTP, the ABC affiliate in Minneapolis-St.Paul. Before that, he was a producer for KIRO7 in Seattle, where he led the 4:30 a.m. show to a #1 share in the U.S. for that time slot. He received an MA in Broadcast Management from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2010 and received his Bachelor of Journalism degree the year before. He shares more about his life at mikebrannen.com.