You know the one. He’s got that ‘deer caught in the headlights’ look on his face. When he walks into the newsroom the other people in the newsroom don’t know what to say to him/her. If you’re a reporter and the new guy/girl is a photog, you don’t know if you want to be paired up with him or not.
But almost to each new guy/girl, one thing is a given: make a mistake…and EVERYBODY TALKS ABOUT IT.
I can look back through my years in tv and remember some of the good ones. In Florence, Alabama a new reporter came in who was a one-man-band. He couldn’t do anything right. Given a story, he’d miss it because he got lost. He misplaced batteries, lights, microphones. He broke light stands and his tape always seemed to be the one stuck in a machine. Hardly a day went by when the newsroom phone didn’t ring with someone on the other end asking “did one of you guys lose a tripod?” He finally picked things up, found his way around town and last I heard was working for a tv station in Georgia.
There was the new female reporter who totalled her newscar just a couple of weeks into the job. The station only had two news vehicles and I think they must have rotated the same 8 bald tires back and forth between them. On a rainy night on a North Alabama dam, she slid into the path of another car. She was in the hospital for a few days but returned soon to become a real good reporter. She got out of the business some years ago and was in public relations the last time I saw her.
And there was the news photographer who absolutely could do nothing right. He was from a small town but came to Memphis like Barney Fife in Raleigh. He was nervous from the moment he walked in to the time he left a couple of years later. His video was almost always blue. He was so scared on live shots in questionable neighborhoods, a police officer once asked a reporter “is he okay?”. He cried on one assignment. It was so bad that Lou Holtz (then the South Carolina football coach) gave him a hug and a pep talk. Last time I heard he was doing very well in another market.
So…I thought of all of these “newbies” while driving to an assignment today. My first story didn’t pan out so I picked up another around noon. It was in Murfreesboro and was for 5. Have you ever out-thought yourself into a mistake?
I got turned around when I first hopped on the interstate and had to get off and then back on I-40. I started down I-24 but then started thinking “is this right?”. I saw a sign posted for Chattanooga and started second guessing myself. My map book only includes metro Nashville and my son has my big map. I wondered if I’d make it there and back in time for the 5. I wondered if I had time for a sandwich. I wondered if the story I needed to shoot would even be there because of the holiday. And then I thought of the new guys…and started to laugh.
I made it to the story just fine. Turned a quick vo/sot on the Ten Commandment’s document that the ACLU is trying to block permanently, and made it back to the station with time to spare.
Another day down…as the new kid in town.