Buckle up, everyone! We’re headed back to 1981. Like Loverboy said in their criminally overrated song, “Working for the Weekend,” “everyone’s tryin’ to get it right.” (And also, “everyone’s watchin’ you,” and “lookin’ at you,” and oh my god it’s 5:20 and I still have three teases to write…)
But in all honesty, everyone is just trying to get it right. And that’s easy to forget because things can get chaotic in the newsroom. We have interviewees to wrangle, scripts to write and graphics to create, all of which have to be done (ideally) before we go live at 5:30 p.m. Thankfully, my co-producer Amy and I have a wonderfully huge team of people who help get the show to air.
With so many faces and shift changes throughout the day, it can be easy to forget that everyone putting the show together is… a real person… with a real life. I know that sounds awful, but when things get hectic, I think it’s human nature to turn on the tunnel vision and go into ‘work-mode.’ So a few weeks ago, I decided that my first interaction of the day with each person would open with one question.
“How was your weekend?”
And people are always excited to share. Whether they went to a football game, found a great new restaurant, or spent the weekend on the couch, this quick de-brief sets the tone for the rest of their shifts. Last week, I found out that one of my multimedia journalists (MJs) and I have been going to concerts at the same local venue – we bonded over one of the acts that we loved and have plans to meet up at the next event.
It might not sound like much, but these little interactions have a big impact. Believe it or not, I was once an MJ too, and as a pretty shy person, I didn’t always feel comfortable making those personal connections. But once I did, I was a way better journalist – it was easier to ask my producers for an opinion about a sound bite or to get some help finding a source when I got stuck.
Improving those relationships goes a long way. One of my MJs has consistently shied away from conducting interviews, instead opting for more writing-intensive assignments. When they came in for their shift last week, we chatted about our weekends and realized we both recently visited the Petersen Automotive Museum. We geeked out over the new James Bond exhibit for a few minutes before they suddenly stopped to confess something to me. They said they were worried that they weren’t pulling their weight, because conducting interviews made them anxious and they were afraid they’d hurt the quality of the story.
As a decently anxious person myself, I let them know that unfortunately, practice makes perfect. We sat down together and made a list of questions, then I set them up with some background research to look over. Unsurprisingly, they knocked the interview out of the park and now is more confident in their abilities.
Though I can’t prove anything, I’d like to think that our shared love of Bond cars made them comfortable enough to voice their concerns. Open communication is essential for a good newscast – when my team members feel comfortable talking to me about something like this, I know I’m doing my job right.
And so, as Loverboy’s frontman, Mike Reno, belts out at the end, “You wanna be in the show…? Come on baby, let’s go!”
To all my lovely co-workers who are in the show, and writing the show, and in the show’s control room, and are making sure I actually eat lunch/take a bathroom break, thank you. I truly love hearing about your weekends, and I’m so grateful for you all because it sure does take a village. Here’s to teamwork, and let’s go!
This story was written as an assignment in JOUR403: Television News Production with Professor Stacy Scholder. Annenberg Media student editors also reviewed the story and published it per newsroom guidelines.