I thought it was only a problem in some of the newsrooms I’ve worked in. Guess I was wrong.
The company that called last week needing someone to shoot a conference didn’t call me back Monday or yesterday. I thought they had decided to go with someone else for their video needs. Then at around 2:40 today while I was at another appointment the guy called and said “can you be there at 3?”
They’ve known about this conference for weeks. They knew exactly what was going to happen in the afternoon session. Nothing had changed. They just put off their decision about what to do. I told the guy I could be there as soon as possible but it was going to be at least an hour before I could pick up my gear and drive across town, set up and start shooting.
Apparently the woman making the decisions didn’t decide anything until the guest speaker was warming up his vocal chords. I’ve never been in a position to “call the shots” but for the life of me I can’t figure out why you’d wait until the last minute to make a decision.
It’s always happened in the newsrooms where I’ve worked.
My favorite story came when I was working for a station in Huntsville and we were getting hammered by tornadoes. The warnings started at around 2pm and continued through the night. The assignment desk put off sending people anywhere until around 7 when the warnings came with reports of funnel clouds.
“Amy go with Greg, Jamey go with Dave, Phil go with Steve”. “Where?” I asked, do you want us to go?” “It doesn’t matter, just go”.
We all grabbed our gear and headed out the door with no direction what so ever. Luckily I found a house that had been hit, the sheriff was walking through the damage but no homeowner was there. We got great stuff and an interview with the sheriff.
Newstime at 10 and I was on the anchor desk. We took a reporter in the field who had a homeowner walking around the damage at his house. Next, was my story with the sheriff. Then I tossed to Amy with a neighbor talking of how a funnel cloud destroyed the house next to his. During her package I noticed something familiar. The house in her story, the house in Phil’s story and the house in my story were THE SAME HOUSE!
After her live wrap, I made the note to our viewers that instead of 3 destroyed houses, we had only been able to find three stories of the same destroyed house.
You’ve got to have direction. Whether it’s from the news director and producers calling the shots for what you’re going to cover that day, or from an assignment desk manager sending reporters and photographers out on a stormy night, or a telecommunications C.O.O. deciding if you need video shot of a conference.
As Larry the Cable Guy likes to say “You don’t have to be the head cashier at Wal-Mart to figure this stuff out.”