Monthly Archives: January 2010

take your passion and make it happen.

Many people feel passionate about achieving certain things before they die. Some may even claim they feel called by God to do something. Though working in the field of journalism is something I absolutely love to do, I don’t think it’s quite my purpose here on Earth. As cheesy and 1950’s as it may sound, I’ve felt very strongly as long as I can remember that God created me to be a wife and a mother. But it’s weird, because it makes no sense when I look inside myself. If another twentysomething woman told me she was raised by a single mom with an absent father like mine, I’d assume she’d end up a crazy feminist who carried illegal knives etched with abstract man hatred and shouted obscenities at her uterus each month. “What’s this? Bleeding again? Curse you, weakling!” But somehow, despite being brought up in a broken home exposed to limited examples of healthy marriage, God has molded my heart to be one that bursts with the idea of falling asleep between my sweet husband and child(ren).

August 1, 2009, I married Dan and fulfilled one of the two big callings God has for me in my life. Monday will bring about six months of marriage, and I can honestly say it gets better everyday. I wish I had a camera attached to my brain to capture each little moment of our life together. Each morning I wake to his sleepy face… each squabble that sheds light on an unfamiliar quirk one of us possesses… each chatty dinner in front of Jeopardy… they’re all manifestations of fresh blessings given to me each day. And at the risk of sounding like a pubescent teen with a crush, it’s totally rad.

While we’ve “agreed” on waiting awhile before we start trying for calling number two (read: I say 5 years, he says 3) we’ve been prompted to have many pre-pregnancy conversations on account of a tidal wave of pregnant people in our inner circle. And after much discussion, thought, and prayer, we’ve come to the decision that when we crossover into parenthood, we want to be in a place so that I can be a stay-at-home mom.

Did you know that in the UK, a woman can have up to 18 months maternity leave? That’s incredible! Comparatively, maternity leave in America is (in my opinion) a sick joke that usually ranges between four and eight weeks. If you ask me, that hardly counts. I went out to dinner with my good friend Ashley and her six-week-old baby Kylin last week, and seeing them together struck a chord in my heart. I thought about my life as mom down the road, and  I couldn’t imagine those short weeks flying by and having to go back to work and leave my baby with someone else. Ashley is very blessed as she is a self-employed photographer who works from home. And if life goes the way I want it to, I’d love to be able to do that. I want to be able to still be a journalist and a stay-at-home mom. While I can’t produce the evening news from home, I’d love to be able to write a column from home, or something of the like. A few years down the road, I’ll have a heart to heart with a good friend/mentor of mine (the EP at our station) and see if there is any way I can make that happen.

Of course, that’s all in God’s hands, not mine.

So, surprise! My life does not revolve around news. Contrary to popular belief, journalists love. Journalists have emotions. Journalists actually feel things.

Well, this one does.

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you know you’ve made it when…

You know you’ve made it when:

Overheard in the Newsroom #2832
Assignment Editor to 5 p.m. Producer: “Screw the Anchor Desk. The Assignment Desk is the only one that matters in this room.”

That was from my station, by yours truly!

Also: Four days of clean shows today!

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third time’s a charm and the producer pants.

Clean show three days in a row! I’m so proud! If I pull off a straight week of clean shows, I may have to throw a party and invite you all over to celebrate. I don’t make enough money to provide you with refreshments, I’m afraid. Sorry. You can bet that high fives will be in abundance, though. But before that, we must discuss day three.

Today I had to rock my producer pants in force. What? You don’t know what producer pants are? You’re telling me you don’t own any producer pants? Everyone needs a pair of producer pants.

In order to be a producer, one must be assertive and authoritative. One must know what one wants, and go for it, no matter what anyone else says, thinks, or does. Despite the job description and my glaring lack of a backbone, I decided that this career was one for me. But it didn’t take this doormat-people-pleaser long to realize that the laid-back passive personality God gave me is definitely not one to mesh with that of a producer. In short, I need to grow some balls.

So in lieu of said balls, I’ve started envisioning putting on my “producer pants,” an invisible garment that gives me all the confidence and resolve in the world needed for me to be in charge. At the end of the day, I take off the producer pants before I leave work so I can resume my usual submissive demeanor for interaction with my husband and friends.

I noticed a PKG on the rundown that I really wanted to run in my show. However, it was done by a reporter that the 6pm producer ALWAYS runs. So, before today’s afternoon meeting, I donned my producer pants. The 6pm producer picked her first two stories, the 5:30pm producer picked his first two stories, and the PKG was left unselected. Feeling the power of the pants, I snagged that PKG as well as another VO/SV that the 6pm producer wanted but didn’t get to in time! Ha!

But I’ve since removed my producer pants, and am now feeling the ravaging guilt for upsetting the 6pm producer. She’s wonderful and I adore her. Sigh. It’s a good thing we’re still friends!

Anyone have a spare pair of balls? Or should I never take off my producer pants?

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before the alarm.

Insomniacs: news is either the best career choice, or the worst, depending on the day. Today, after only about three solid hours of sleep and subsequent fueling up on a black eye and Taco Bell, it’s the worst.

I’ve had sleeping problems since the day I was born. I never took naps as a child, and was never able to sleep all the way through the night. Unfortunately, that never changed, and a career in broadcast journalism has only worsened my situation. Sometimes it’s because I’m physically incapable of shutting off my brain. News is constantly breaking, and a producer’s brain churns incessantly as a result. Last night, I couldn’t fall asleep for the life of me, and then when I finally drifted off, I woke up minutes later completely positive I’d slept in until 11:something and had no idea how the noon show was even going to happen, or concerned that a certain story wasn’t being followed up on (is anyone checking on that missing boater for Pete’s sake?!) But most of the time, insomnia strikes simply no matter how many thoughts I think or don’t think. My mind can be a blank slate, and I’ll just stare dumbly into the backs of my black eyelids. And let me tell you what, nothing makes me feel more abnormal than this. Nothing. Feeling helpless and lonely, I lie awake in a sea of self-loathing, convinced that no one else on the face of the planet goes through this. I mean really. Who just doesn’t sleep?

And then I remember the year that I worked overnight producing the morning show. I think of all those times my news director called the station at 3:00AM concerned about the comments on the homepage, or when he snuck in the control room during the 5:30 AM show to “check in.” And then, I don’t feel like such a loner anymore. I feel like a journalist.

In other news (punnnnn) I’ve had clean shows two days in a row (Friday and Monday.) I’m pretty stoked about that. I’m probably the only person who remembers though, because Friday was eons ago in news time. But it matters to me! Especially since I had a clean show after zero sleep. That’s pretty impressive, if I do say so myself.

Saturday night we went out for Jessica’s birthday and I ran into a group of my favorite reporters (yes, I have favorites) and the spokesman for the city police department. After we greeted each other with enthusiastic hearty hugs, Policeman asked me what I was up to nowadays. When I told him I still worked at the station, he looked quite puzzled. Oh, beer! It was all I could do to not say, “I called you about a bank robbery yesterday…”

Pillow! I hear you! I’m coming for you!

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update.

All of my on-air talent showed today, which is good, because I forgot to call them.

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tardy with a chance of voicemail.

Today lends a perfect example of “it’s the producer’s fault.”

I didn’t mention it in my previous post, but the 2:45pm meeting in which the producers pick the stories for their prospective shows is also the time when the nightside reporters pitch their stories and the weather anchor gives an overview of what we can expect in the forecast (so that we, as producers, can whip out snazzy bump lines and graphics that read teases like “CLOUDS RETURN?” and “WET WEEKEND?” or “IT’S RAININ’ SIDEWAYS!”)

Well today’s meeting was unusually brief since the Executive Producer was off and there was absolutely NO news to report (the curse of newscasts on federal holidays. Thanks, MLK.) The weather anchor scheduled to work was the girl who anchors on weekends. She was scheduled in place of our chief meteorologist who had the holiday off. Said weather girl (can’t call this one a meteorologist, I’m afraid, she’s merely a pretty girl who likes clouds) was noticeably absent from today’s meeting, but based on it’s brevity, none of us thought anything of it. She probably was just late getting into the conference room and upon finding it empty, went back to the weather office to resume building the graphics for the shows.

At 4:30pm (30 minutes prior to my show) I called the directors to make sure that they knew that we had a fill-in weather anchor for chyron purposes. But as I reached for the handset, it dawned on me that I hadn’t seen her at all yet today. I asked everyone on the assignment desk if they’d seen her floating about the newsroom, but no one had. So I opted to take a trip to the weather center, which I found dark and desolate and clearly lacking human existence.

My associate producer called her right away only to be greeted by a high-pitched voicemail message. She gently left a message saying, “Hi, we’re down at the station wondering where you are. Call us back. Thanks.”

Weathergirl called back roughly ten minutes later apologizing profusely, explaining that despite an email to everyone in the newsroom and a schedule swap printed and posted on a huge bulletin board in the newsroom, she was unaware that she was working today. She said she was leaving immediately and that she’d make it in time to go on air at 5:00.

Now, the protocol for this type of scenario is that the producer is to immediately inform the news director of the almost-crisis, so that in case said anchor doesn’t make it, everyone is on the same page and a back-up plan can be easily implemented. So after we called her and she didn’t answer, I completed step two, and told my boss.

After telling me to make sure I had several stories on hold, and after telling him that I’d figure out a way to put up the five-day forecast over music so that my anchor could ad-lib, it turned on me.

It was then that I fell at fault for her tardiness because I didn’t realize her absence before 4:30pm.

Um. What?

First of all: None of the other producers knew she wasn’t at work, either. Second of all: I KNOW that if anything goes wrong in my show, the blame falls on me. But if an anchor doesn’t show it’s my fault, too?

I can’t wait to get yelled at the next time food goes bad in the fridge or a reporter quits or something. I really need to get better at this whole, “being prepared for everything” thing.

Tomorrow I’m going to go to work and call every single one of my on-air talent just to make sure they plan on being on TV that day.

You know.

Just checking.

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i love you, you’re perfect, now change.

Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag are the most infuriating people on the planet. They should get sterilized and should be banned from all facets of media. They are famous for nothing, they have no talent, and they are polluting the world with filth.

I used to follow the two of them on Twitter. I gave that up because I couldn’t stand having a Twitterfeed that looked like this:

heidimontag: OMG U GUYS PLZZ PICK UP THE NEW PLAYBOY TO SEE MY NEW BOOBS!!! omg jesus is so good to us!!!!!!!! we love jesus!!!!
spencerpratt: RT @heidimontag OMG U GUYS PLZZ PICK UP THE NEW PLAYBOY SEE MY NEW BOOBS!!! ya my wife is hot!!!!!!!!! GOD IS GOOD!!!!!

I’d give my left leg to be exaggerating. But I’m not.

So I stopped following them. For obvious reasons.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, my current gripe is that Heidi is now on the cover of the most recent issue of People displaying her new “perfect” (her words, not mine) body after undergoing TEN plastic surgery procedures in ONE DAY.

There are so many things that piss me off about this. But mainly, I’m just sad for them. They’re missing it. Based on what I’ve watched on “The Hills” and witnessed via several media appearances by the couple, I’ve deduced that their relationship is based solely on conditions and control, and poking at insecurities and stabbing open emotional wounds. It’s backwards and wrong and makes a mockery of love and commitment and the sanctity of marriage as was created by God in heaven.

It’s my opinion, as is that of many people I’ve consulted on the subject, that Heidi looks a million times better before the surgery. And the sad part is, I think that her sick and twisted husband has actually convinced her that if she doesn’t transform her body into what society has deemed “perfection,” that she isn’t worth being married to.

And this? This is marriage? This is what our children are being exposed to?  Through Spencer and Heidi, our daughters are hearing that they can’t be loved just as they are. This is unacceptable and sickening, and I wish that I could do something more radical, something more lasting, something more significant than posting an angry blog.

Women, God created you to be exactly how you are. And he thinks you’re perfect and beautiful. Your worth is found in Him and in Him alone. Screw society, screw the media, screw anyone who makes you feel like you’re not good enough just as you are.

Because you are.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
Psalm 139:13-14

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a day in the life.

When people ask about my job, I feel there is never enough time to actually explain exactly what it is I do. When I say I’m a news producer, that sounds super flashy and cool, but let’s be real. No one who isn’t in the television business actually knows what a TV news producer actually does. I’ve never really put into words exactly what a day looks like for me, a local news producer in market 106. I think now’s the time.

My job is to produce the noon and 5:00pm newscasts Monday through Friday. Each day, I’m supposed to be at the station by 9:30am. For whatever reason, having to be at work on a :30 never works for me. Not sure why, but I can’t get here earlier than 9:35-9:40. This is a problem,  because my first order of business is to help run the morning reporter pitch meeting which starts at 9:30 sharp.

In this meeting all of our reporters, who are each assigned a certain “beat” of news to cover (i.e., education, crime, universities, etc.) gather ’round a big table in the conference room and pitch story ideas to the Executive Producer, the Assignment Desk Editor, and yours truly. The stories will either get approved or not, and then we’ll send them on their merry way to go write, shoot, and edit PKGs, VO/SVs, or VOs. Maybe one blog post I’ll explain what all of those are. But it is NOT THIS DAY.

When the meeting is over, I get to my desk to start working on the noon show. The noon is a bit different from a normal show for me. I act more as an associate producer than a producer, so I’ll just skip to my 5:00pm show to explain.

Between 2:00 and 2:30pm, the 5:30pm and 6:00pm producers make their way into the station. Around this time, the Assignment Desk Editor has a finished rundown of all the stories the reporters have successfully gotten throughout the day. The three of us producers then overlook the rundown, and silently pick stories we’d like to run in our shows. (Doing this while keeping in mind the “feel” of each of the shows. My show’s demo is all the moms that just got done watching Oprah, so I usually run health, education, and human interest stories.)

At 2:45pm, the EP calls the producers into the conference room and briefly goes over the biggest headlines both nationally and regionally for that day. She also assigns us each one VO to write and edit for later shows. Then, on to the mudslinging.

The 6:00pm producer picks the lead for her show first. Then the 5:30pm producer picks his lead. Then I pick mine. The idea is that all three shows lead with different stories, unless there is a huge news story that everyone’s talking about. Then we’re allowed to all lead with the same story. (Yesterday, for instance, we all led with Haiti stories.) Then we’ll pick the stories for the rest of our shows. Each day the 6:00 and 5:30 producers rotate who picks first, but I always pick third. The curse of the 5:00pm.

This is the part where math comes in. I start out with a certain amount of time I’m allotted for my show. Today, I’m going into the meeting with 5:00 to fill. (This is after the things that were already teased to me, the time for sports, the time for weather, and the time for commercial breaks.) I suck at math, but I’ve gotten really good at subtracting time.

After we all pick our stories, we put them in our show rundowns and organize them to our liking. This is called “stacking.”

When my show is stacked, I go through each story script and put in the graphics behind my anchor, name supers, hit times, etc. Then I check each script for spelling, accuracy, read rate/timing, and flow. The hardest part of my job would probably be dumbing down each script. The average reading level of our viewing audience is 8th grade. Yes, 8th grade. It’s my job to make sure everyone watching can fully understand what we’re talking about in 45 seconds or less. That’s a definitely drawback to the job. I love writing, I love flowery language. But in broadcast, there is no room for that, lest you want to put your readers to sleep.

After each script in my show looks good to me, and all the graphics and supers are in place, I head to the control room. I usually try to make it back there by 4:50pm at the latest. Then, using a computer and a monitor, I frantically pull up each piece of video in my show and watch them to try and catch flash frames, jump cuts, bad audio, or anything else that might make the viewer freak. This is the part I wish I had more time for. But the reporters are scrambling to get their video sent to the system on time, so they rarely have their video in before I get back there anyway.

When the show starts, the director takes control. The director rolls video, takes those name supers, advances those graphics, and puts that show I put together in motion. For me, it’s all a matter of timing. I watch the clock, making sure my anchor doesn’t read too slow and make my show heavy (over time) or too fast to make my show light (under time.) Same with my weather anchor and sports anchor. If the video isn’t in, or if I get too heavy, stories have to die. Some promos in the commercial breaks have to die. If I get too light, I’ll have to pull a backup story that’s already been edited and written to put in place of other stories. I can’t really describe the frenzy of the control room, but it’s definitely a heart-pounding, sweat-on-your-brow, tense environment. It can be good if your show is clean, it can be volatile if your show is a mess, prompting your director to shout profanities and nasty names at you.

After the shows air, all of us meet and talk about the things that went wrong in each show (called “discrepancies.”) If your show goes off without a hitch with no discreps, you get a clean show. And that’s awesome. But if some video has flash frames, or if your audio is over-modulated, or if a super is misspelled, prepare for the pain. Discreps aren’t fun for anyone, but ultimately, the blame falls on the producer. Cue stress. That’s the worst part of the job. If I screw up, it’s my fault. But if someone else screws up, it’s also my fault. Talk about pressure.

But the best part about it is, then I get to go home.

And do it all again tomorrow.

Even when discreps fall on me, the newscast is over. It’s in the past. And all I can do is look at tomorrow and ask myself, “What can I do better next time?” And the blessing I have for working in a small/middle market is that I can make this mistakes and learn from them, and still have a job the next day. In bigger markets, I won’t be so lucky.

And that, my friends, is a day in the life.

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let’s hang!

The only drawback I’ve found about newlywed life is the crazy assumption by other people that the only person I want to spend time with is my husband.

Granted, Dan is absolutely wonderful. I love him. Spending time with him is always enjoyable. But at the end of every day, I am blessed to be able to slide into bed with him and fall asleep in his arms, regardless of whether or not we were up each other’s butts throughout the day.

Before the wedding, friends would reference fun things to do in August and they’d follow that up with, “Would you be able to come? I mean, I know August is going to be crazy for you and everything…”

What? Actually, August was fine. I got married on August 1st and honeymooned that week. If anything, hanging out in July would have been an issue. Not August.

And now, I get invited out less. It’s just the way it is. Sigh. Is this typical? Do most married people go through this? I don’t like it. I want to do something fun!

I promise, I can come up for air every once in a while. Let’s hang!

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snobs.

I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I have friends who are snobs. Though the term carries with it a negative connotation, when used in reference to my circle of friends, I feel it is a term of endearment. (Not unlike my inability to control my mouth.)

Arguably the most snobby are the music snobs. Several of my friends are musicians by trade, and therefore know everything there is to know about music. Not just certain genres of music. They know EVERYTHING. Get them in a group together and bring up the time you saw band X at Y venue, and they’ll jump at the chance to either praise your musical genius or pick apart your taste like a festering carcass. They’ll have something to say about both your Bob Dylan records and your collection of obscure showtunes. (I’m looking at you, “Batboy.”)

And then there are the book snobs. They’ve read every book by every author known to man and have analyzed and scrutinized them all down to the very last paragraph. You may think you know the meaning behind “Wuthering Heights” by Bronte, but trust me (and my book snob friends.) You probably don’t. And forget even mentioning the Bronte sisters when referencing literature. So tenth grade.

And then the art snobs. Those who can stroll around an art gallery and think to themselves, “Rubbish.” It’ll look like a pretty picture, and you may admire it for a minute, but the art snob will swoop in when noticing your interest and say something along the lines of, “Oh the contour and the color and the this and the that, so sloppy.” Come on. It’s just a bunch of pictures of fruit and naked people. What is there to criticize, honestly?

Then there are the math and science snobs. I’d try to give you an example, but I’m too right-brained to even begin to get it. When math and science snobs open their mouth and snob it up, I shut off. Sure, it’s interesting. I guess. But the airflow above my head doesn’t sink in enough for me to grasp whatever it is they try and convince me of. Sure, that equation makes sense. Whatever you say, snob.

Oh and how could I ever forget the health/fitness snobs? As a twentysomething journalist living off of a laughably low wage (as well as my pastor husband’s earnings) it is extremely difficult to afford healthier food. I’d love to be a health/fitness snob. I would. But I can’t bring myself to do more than run three or four times a week coupled with putting together whatever food items are in the kitchen at present. No my meal doesn’t contain more than three food groups. No I’m not losing weight. Yes I “only” run two miles at a time. But! At 4:30am on January 10th, you can find me in my bed as opposed to two miles deep into a twelve mile morning run in 16 degree weather.

I brought up the topic of snobs not to poke fun at them. (Okay, maybe a little.) But mostly, I want to be a snob. Painfully. I want to be that person there for when you open your mouth to voice an opinion about something to effortlessly crush it beneath my infinite knowledge on the subject. Looking at my life and demeanor, I feel like I really can’t say I’m a snob about anything. Which I guess some would argue means that I’m not passionate enough about anything, or that I don’t commit to anything, or that I’m vanilla, or whatever. I brought this up with my husband, and he claims I’m a news snob. However I call foul and say that’s an extremely generic cop out. Of course I know everything about what’s going on in the world. I get paid to do that. Knowing everything about everything is my bread and butter.

Also, if you get your news from the ABC affiliate in Tallahassee or by reading the paper, you WILL be misinformed. Just saying.

Where was I? Oh yes.

I want to be a snob about something.

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