I’ve often referred to producing as if it were my first time cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my in-laws. While obviously a hypothetical situation because I simply do not have in-laws yet, the in-law element is important to the analogy for a few reasons. I mention Thanksgiving because of the planning, chaos and expectation involved. Add on the deadline, to have the turkey, or newscast, ready, and it is basically one and the same, give or take some of the technical elements. Now, I use in-laws for the analogy because that first week of production I had not formed comfortable relationships, a similar feeling to just meeting in-laws. If producers do not build and foster personal relationships with their team, then all other traits of the producers simply do not carry the same weight they would if the relationships were present.
Again, I turn to the Thanksgiving example to back my claim. People often want to come across gently and do not always voice an opinion when first interacting with in-laws. After all, you do have to see them quite a bit. However, as time progresses, and relationships build, a level of comfort forms that allows people to open up and feel less attacked by others’ opinions or behavior. Throughout the semester I saw this same behavior shift in my journalists as our relationships progressed. The hesitation began to dissipate when something was not right in their piece, the writing wasn’t clear enough and they needed to re-write or I simply needed them to work on an additional assignment. It is through our authentic connection that the journalists on my team grew to enjoy their work. I saw each of them recognize the team effort our production required—a team they realized they, too, were a part of.
I can think of an abundance of other qualities that make a good producer—you have to be tough, resilient, communicative, empathetic, a good writer, curious, forward-thinking, proactive and respectful. However, all of these traits are either direct results or the formula that builds the authentic, personal relationships I deemed the most valuable to a producer.
As mentioned in my previous blog, See it Live has covered its fair share of difficult topics this semester—drug addiction and abuse, the Saugus High School shooting and mental health just to name a few. This difficult coverage emphasized the need for us to lean on one another. A newsroom undoubtedly gets hectic. Reporters get attached to stories. Technical issues arise. A piece doesn’t make air in time. We are all human.
I have found that knowing the people I work with helps mitigate the frustration when one of these situations occurs, for either me as a producer or the journalists who can become frustrated with their producer. Instead of taking the form of anger, these situations turn into opportunities to learn how we could have done better, as a team.
Now, back to my analogy. While our final show this week did not share the uncertainty or hesitation that was present the first week of production, by week 13 of the semester, we had grown to know, appreciate and respect one another. Although the in-law element of my analogy is still equally as important in this final show as the first because much like in-laws, this team became the family we got to choose to love.