Thursday, May 30, 2013

Credit Hours...

At the risk of unemployment, I humbly submit for you dear reader, my assessment of indentured mentorship.

You see, there's a common plague sweeping newsrooms across the nation.  From market 250 to market 1... The summer intern.

They're everywhere...


Like a fresh crop of corn, like a new born breed of cattle, like silent daffodils dancing in the wind, like fawns learning to take their first steps... Every summer promises a new breed of young professionals with aspirations to be the next Diane Sawyer or Tom Brokaw.

It's here and now that I draw a line in the sand and take a page from the Lenslinger Institute and declare that we make a solemn vow to teach them exactly what a life in the news biz is all about.

Don't expect to be home on time.  Don't expect platitudes from your superiors.  Don't expect the glitz and glam of being "on camera".  Don't expect free meals everywhere you go... (That'll come, just learn to pick and choose and pitch the right stories.)

Do expect unlimited access to city officials, criminals, murderers, rapists, prostitutes, looky loos, the common "everyman", celebrities, not so celebrities, athletes, white trash, brown trash, green trash, blue trash, smelly trash, people who will make you smile with a simple sound bite, and above all... the adrenaline rush of it all.

News isn't about praise.  Take this job in search of it and you'll burn out quick. REAL QUICK.  But hang on for the long run... Put up with the pointless live shot at 11:15pm when you're an hour from home and dayside the next day, deal with the live truck giving you fits of computer rage because it's acting silly and won't transmit audio, anticipate a reel failing during a gubernatorial election, and maybe... just maybe... you'll find satisfaction in that one story you did during the week that makes it all worth while.

All the cable pulling.  All the setting up of lights.  All the anticipation of someone saying "Hey guy, nice job on last night's live shot".  It won't come...

We, tv news photographers, we do this job for ourselves and for the better of the station.  It's thankless. But at the end of the day, when the guy who signs the checks from carpet land passes you in the hall on the way to break room and pauses to acknowledge what you did that day, it's a feeling you will never forget.  If the GM knows who you are because of something you've shot and not because of how drunk you got at the holiday party, you're doing something right.

With all of this said phellow photog, I encourage you to muster some sense of humility and patience, and remember those people that gave you a break when you were attempting to enter this wicked world that we work in called "TV News".  For me, it was a seasoned vet in Wilmington who'd been laid off at our competition and took a job at our station just to provide health insurance to his kids.  You can't snub that kind of commitment, it's the very fiber of our being.

It's also found in mentors like Richard Adkins & Stewart Pittman. Seemingly old dudes who were reinvigorated for their craft by a young shooter with a passion for NAT sound usage, (yours truly).

So, in conclusion, as frustrating as it might be... work with that intern that shows promise.  Show them the way.  Teach them.  Nurture them.  Mold them.  Be honest with them.  Give them the details of the ups and downs.  Show them the way.

If not for yourself, then for the next generation.  We all know that news doesn't stop.  It's always happening, and we're just here for a season to tell the stories of the people we cover.  Don't take that responsibility lightly... But always remember to have a hell of alot of fun doing it....


1 comment:

  1. Nice writing. If you were influenced by Stewart, he should be proud.

    ReplyDelete