Dealing with the “pros”

Alex Carrasquillo has worked in news for 3 years. He’s a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Communication Media program. He started as a news production assistant and weekend assignment editor at WRAL-TV in Raleigh, N.C. He’s currently the 10 p.m. news producer for WJCL-TV, the ABC affiliate in Savannah, Ga.

Walking into a newsroom with no experience is obviously intimidating. I did that in TV market 24 and it took leaving two years later to realize how much more intimidated I should have been. WRAL-TV taught me my first lesson in news: you don’t know everything. My second lesson quickly followed: industry veterans can be incredibly nice if they know you’re passionate and willing to learn.

It seems simple, but it’s crucial. I recommend putting all your energy into absorbing everything you can. No task is too small and I bet the pro’s would agree they still work to do the same.

I had two awesome opportunities to talk with a vice president of news for Hearst Television, the parent company of WJCL-TV. We spent some time talking about dealing with veteran talent. She made this point: producers are often, but not exclusively, newsroom leaders in a variety of ways. That applies to young producers working with people who have spent a lot of time in the business.

Take advantage of this opportunity. Share your passion and ask questions when you’re unsure of how you should handle a block or the order of your stories. They’ll take note if you recognize you don’t know everything. Talk to them about the vision you have for your newscast. Don’t just wait until they see it in the rundown. Your trust in them will build their trust in you. They’ll likely tell you there’s nothing worse than “flying blind” on that anchor desk or in the field… and they’re right. You should always be on the same page.

One of my favorite on-air people in this business once told me any talent who tells you they don’t have some kind of ego, is lying. The egos will come and go – both on-air and behind the scenes. All you can control is the effort and interest you put into your newscast and newsroom. The rest will fall in line.

Then there’s the fine line between realizing you don’t know everything and knowing you shouldn’t be afraid to speak up. Respectfully tell your coworkers what you think about an approach to coverage or a story idea. You’ll learn so much from the conversation that follows. Always be open to new concepts and feedback, don’t be afraid to own your mistakes. It all adds up to a way of life in a newsroom.

Once the pro’s see you’re fully committed to your work and your station’s character, your limited experience will become less important. The great thing about news is that everyone is up against the same journalistic standards regardless of age and experience.

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