Is it the paycheck? Sure, I guess most of us would say the envelope from our employer gives us some motivation. But really though…there’s something else isn’t there? If we’re lucky.
I’m nearing the end of a time where I’ll work 16 of 17 straight days. Also in that span I worked one 13 hour day and a couple of other 9 hour days. Last week, counting live shots and vo/sots in different shows, I produced 10 stories, VJ style. Shot it all, wrote it all, and edited it all.
I’m exhausted tonight after covering a 2-day festival in downtown Nashville. VJ style. This morning, the morning anchors called at 6:30, live on the air for me to talk about the 2-day Christian music festival I covered downtown this weekend. That, after turning two stories on both Saturday and Sunday. By myself. Not complaining in the least little bit. To the contrary. I’ve never been happier working for a tv station. Now why is that?
I’m sure you’ve done something like this too. Working really really hard. Maybe as hard as you’ve ever worked. And you couldn’t be happier about it.
Now why is that?
It isn’t the overtime, at least for me, I don’t get it. It isn’t the comp-time either. I already had a couple days off at the end of this book. So what makes the difference?
I’ve been working hard at covering the stories I’m covering because they’re my stories. I’ve taken ownership of the religion stories that come out of News 2. Much like how the folks in the weather department get jazzed over severe weather, much like the sports guys get fired up covering the Titans or Sounds or Preds when they’re doing well. It’s my thing.
Last Tuesday, I had two pieces that were scheduled and promoted for the 5 and 10 o’clock newscast. At noon, Rev. Jerry Falwell died. My managing editor decided (good call here too) to hold my two stories and put me on local reaction to Falwell’s passing. If I hadn’t taken ownership over the religion stories making news, I might have been ticked off that my two series pieces were put on hold. But I found myself grabbing my camera and rushing out the door to find locals who knew Dr. Falwell and get their reaction on the air by 4.
I found (with help from our 5 o’clock producer Stephen) the man who served as Falwell’s music director for 35 years. I had to talk him into putting on a suit (his call) and meeting me for a quick interview. By 2 I was interviewing a local pastor who had three kids graduating from Liberty University and who hosted Dr. Falwell on his last public appearance in Nashville.
If I didn’t feel some type of ownership, I don’t think I would have been as eager to bust my tail on the story. At least, I know I haven’t found that motivation at other stations.
I think when you’re a general assignment reporter, you take ownership of individual stories on individual days. But once the page has turned, you find yourself looking at all stories as sort of a temporary side street. I’ll bet health reporters and education reporters and any other “beat reporter” feels the same way.
I think maybe that’s the greatest thing about having a “beat” or a concentration. I imagine it may be the same for professors and teachers. Not only are you able to gather more information and intelligence about your particular subject, you find yourself in your hours away from the job, reading and studying more about the emphasis you’ve chosen.
That’s why tonight, instead of trying to get away from work, I find myself reading more about the stories I’ll be doing this week.
For the television viewer, or newspaper reader, they get a more focused and comprehensive story. Every time.
And for the reporter, it makes work, seem a lot less like work.