The Producer Page: October 1997

IN THIS ISSUE...

  • Debate re: producers
  • Feedback
  • More on Being Fired
  • Hire Me
  • Producers on the Move
  • Happenings

  • DEBATE RE: PRODUCERS

    You may have seen the recent running debate on the following subject in ShopTalk. One of our readers suggests it would be a good topic for our newsletter as well:

    "News people, especially producers are out of touch with real life because we're 1) single, 2) childless, 3) probably have only worked in TV."

    I'd like to hear from producers who are all or some of the above, who manage to overcome those obstacles, and how you do it. I'd also like to hear from those of you who don't fit the above profile, and why you agree/disagree with the premise. Write to me at AJMain@aol.com under the subject heading "KEEPING IN TOUCH." Be sure to include your name and title, if you'd like attribution, or specify if you'd prefer your comments to run without attribution.


    FEEDBACK (A reader responds to the new producer in a small market who's not getting any feedback.)

    When you think about it, it is amazing how hard it is to get feedback as a producer, since (much more often than not) producers are younger and less experienced than their on-air colleagues, yet we have a lot more control over what goes over the air than our reporting colleagues.

    But, it's a fact of life that at a lot of very good newsrooms in small markets, there is never a chance to give producers feedback. It took me until I got into a Top 30 market to have a manager actually look at one of my newscasts with a critical eye in a one-on-one situation.

    But luckily there is the U.S. mail. Assuming you know other people in the business, ask them to look at your tape. Is there a larger market within a reasonbable drive? Call the stations there and try to set up someting with an EP or Senior Producer. It serves a twofold purpose -- it gives you feedback, and maybe it gets your name circulated in a bigger market. Do you have old professors who might look at your tape? How about alumni from your school who are a little farther along in their careers. Check with your school's career planning office -- they may have a list of folks willing to give "career advice." Getting advice from outside your newsroom is sometimes very helpful because the folks within the newsroom are sometimes too close to the show to see it with a critical eye.

    It takes a little effort, but it's worth it. Maybe you'll find out you're doing great -- or that you have a lot to learn. Better to find it out now than when you really want to move on to bigger and better things later.

    Ted McEnroe Hartford, CT tmcenroe@pobox.com


    MORE ON BEING FIRED (Too late for last month's issue..)

    Alice..

    As a LONG time producer before becoming an EP, AND and ND...and now a propeller head...I thought I'd share two thoughts with your readers..

    1. As to surviving being fired.. In the 80's several of us News Directors who were at the time members of RTNDA's board of directors...tried (only semi-facetiously) to have the by-laws changed so that only N.D.'s who'd been fired at least once could be full members. Everyone else would pay full dues..but wouldn't be quite so honored. Everyone didn't think it nearly as humorous as we did. But it said a lot about the lifespan and lives of news managers and supervisors. I personally was demoted once and asked to leave once in my N.D. career.

    2. As a producer in several markets during my formative years....my all-time favorite definition of the animal known as a producer was:

    "A machine that converts sugar and caffeine into newscasts."

    Skip Haley
    Director of Information Services
    WBRZ-TV


    PRODUCERS ON THE MOVE

    TED McENROE has headed south on I-95, moving from WCSH-TV in Portland, Maine to WVIT-TV, the NBC affiliate and soon-to-be O&O in Hartford/New Haven, CT as a producer.

    CHRISTIE WALTON leaves KSLA in Shreveport after 17 years to become the 5pm/special projects producer at WVUE in New Orleans.

    JENNIFER ZUNK moves from producing at WTOL in Toledo, to the executive producer position at WSFA-TV in Montgomery, Alabama.


    HIRE ME

    I'm a 25 year-old, four and a half year veteran of public radio news (mostly with Pacifica Radio) and a recent graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism looking to land my first real job in video.

    I'm a hard news person at heart , but have done a fair share of long form producing, including a half hour documentary entitled "the Second Harlem Renaissance" which I completed earlier this year.

    I just returned to New York City after filing as a foreign corresspondant from Hong Kong over the summer and am primarily looking for work here, and in other large metropolitan areas. (I'm originally from San Francisco.)

    What I don't have in experience I more than make up for in enthusiasm and hard work. If you're looking for an associate producer, video journalist, field producer or investigative producer with a strong background in political reporting who can bring out the real voices behind the story, please contact me, Samy-Leigh Webster-Woog at samy@reporters.net I'll be happy to give out resumes, references, resume reels, small gifts, whatever you're looking for.

    Thanks. Samy-Leigh Webster-Woog samy@reporters.net 544 W114 St. New York, NY 10025 (212) 666-5268


    I CAN'T BELIEVE IT WAS PRINTED ON THE AIR

    I'm sure we've all had problems with graphics in the past . Get this one: "Diana, Princess of Whales".

    Yep it actually hit the air the weekend the fatal accident involving the princess broke.

    It will be hard for anyone to top that gaff.


    HAPPENINGS

    NEWSROOM SEMINARS AT TEXAS ASSOCIATION OF BROADCASTERS' ANNUAL CONVENTION

    News directors, news managers, producers and reporters have their own, specifically designed schedule of programs at the Texas Association of Broadcasters' 44th Annual Convention and Trade Show in El Paso, October 29-31. It's the largest state or regional broadcast gathering in the country and we have a top-notch, jam-packed, one-day schedule of sessions for just $25. After October 17, registration jumps to $35, so it's good to lock in now. Sessions run from 9am to 5pm MT. There's even a special Southwest Airlines fare. For more information on TAB's seminars or to register for our convention, contact Michael Schneider, TAB's Director of Programs at (512) 322-9944. Here's the line-up:

    9:00 - 10:15 Writing News that Recruits

    Scott Libin from the Poynter Institute for Media Studies will conduct a special workshop aimed at unleashing the captivating and conversational writer inside each of us. The Poynter Institute is renowned for its workshops for newsroom personnel. Learn how to write news that recruits and keeps an audience from one of the best in the business.

    10:15 - 11:00 Coffee Break

    11:00 - 12:15 Winning Newsroom Strategies

    End the cycle of sameness by fostering and driving the creative process in the newsroom, using systems that deliver customer-centered broadcast journalism. Paul Dughi with Broadcast Image Group, Inc. will tell you why everyone in the newsroom should think like a producer and think of the newscast as the end goal.

    11:30 - 1:30 Walk Around Lunch/Exhibitor Showcase

    1:30 - 2:45 The Media on Trial: Are Lawyers Controlling Your Newscast?

    Decisions in recent libel cases have not bode well for broadcast newsrooms. Get a handle on what your First Amendment rights are and how recent major libel cases affect you. Moderator Chip Babcock of Jackson Walker LLP will direct a panel of experts using real-life examples from precedent setting libel law cases to illustrate.

    2:45 - 3:15 Coffee Break

    3:15 - 4:30 Newsgathering on the Internet

    The Internet is the most underutilized tool in newsrooms today. Learn how to use the Internet to add context to stories and generate interviews. Shawn McIntosh with A.H. Belo/Dallas Morning News and the National Institute for Computer Assisted Reporting will show you how.


    Coming up October 10 & 11 ... the 2nd Annual Ball State University/Associated Press/RTNDA Fall Broadcast News Conference. Saturday, October 11 features sessions on writing, shooting, story ideas, producing and more. MACKIE MORRIS from Frank Magid Associates will conduct a full afternoon session on writing ... AJ (ALICE) MAIN, EP at WLS-TV in Chicago and founder of The Producer Newsletter, will run a session on producing better newscasts ... MICKEY McCANHAM, assignment manager at WXYZ-TV in Detroit will lead a session on better morning meetings ... TED BRIDIS from the AP will run hands-on sessions on using the Internet and Computer Assisted Reporting ... NPPA award-winner BRAD HOUSTON from KUSA-TV in Denver and Emmy award winning photographer HENDRIX NOWELLS from the Hearst News Bureau in Washington, DC will conduct a full morning session on shooting and editing. Advance registration is $25 for professionals and $10 for students ($35 and $20 after October 6). That includes breakfast and lunch. We have also arranged for special motel rates. Friday, October 10 will be geared toward students and news directors, with sessions on prying information from police and the government, hiring the right people (and getting rid of mistakes) and student sessions and tape critiques. There is no charge to attend on Friday. For more information on the BSU/AP/RTNDA Fall Broadcast News Conference and a registration form, call Bob Papper, Ball State University, at (765) 285-5397 or e-mail at rpapper@teleplex.bsu.edu


    News folks don't have to wait to get the new Mervin Block book mentioned a few days ago in SHOPTALK, "Writing Broadcast News -- Shorter, Sharper and Stronger." It's available through the ERNIE PYLE MEMORIAL BOOKSTORE at: http://www.duff.net/ernie/ Just click the top line of the NAV bar in the left frame. Through the distributor we use, the price is a few cents less than $21.00... almost 9-bucks (30%) cheaper than most other sources. You can skip the wait of loading our [frames environment] online shop by using this link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=1566250846/worldvuA/ Following Mervin's concepts will lead to a lot happier anchor people... and much better informed viewers! The Old Producer


    AJ-

    I work in TV news, a freelancer now. I was handing my business card to a prospective client. As she double-checked my e-mail address, I wondered what JP21@bigISP.net said about me, especially these days when E-Mail is such an important means of communicating with co-workers, employers, prospective employers etc. Nothing.

    So my partner and I designed "IndustryMail". Itís an E-mail forwarding service designed expressly for TV and TV News professionals BY TV professionals.

    Now Iím JParry@TVDirector.net

    We currently have 23 professional domains (and growing) for you to choose from; TVNews, TVProducer, NewsPro, just to name a few.

    No matter how many places you currently get your e-mail, youíll only need to give out ONE address. You can forward your e-mail where you want it, when you want it. So when you change channels, your e-mail address doesn't have to.

    We just got up and running a couple of weeks ago, and would like to offer "The Producer Newsletter" subscribers a special deal.

    Your special URL :

    http://www.IndustryMail.com/2ferspecial.html

    Thanks,

    John Parry JParry@TVDirector.net