Andrew Marden is the Sports Director at the CBS/NBC duopoly in Fresno, CA. He has 12 years of experience in sports broadcasting and is a 2003 graduate of Syracuse University.
If you show up to work on any given day and don’t have the slightest idea of what you’ll be covering, you’ve already lost.
Maybe you’re lucky and you have a news director, executive producer and/or assignment editor who comes to the rescue every morning with a list of story ideas. While that could bail you out for the day, you’re still behind because you’re just now reading about the story you’ll be covering and your competitor is already making calls on it. Or maybe he/she is in the car on the way to a shoot.
This business is not a 9-to-5 job; we all know that going in. But we also know that it takes time to develop good stories. Not everything you do is going to be award-winning, but why not at least try to put together each PKG with that thought in mind? “Filling the black” should never be the approach.
This is even more important in sports, where you DON’T have anyone generating story ideas for you. You are your own assignment desk and producer (and photographer/editor/reporter, etc but that’s a topic for a different blog post).
You need to be informed of what’s going on and you need to think days and weeks ahead. Know your community calendar. Read the newspaper. Talk to as many people as you can. You may be working on a “holiday travel” or a “DUI checkpoint” story for the billionth time, but maybe you’ll bump into someone with a unique story or maybe you’ll discover an interesting fact that can be the seed of another story in the future.
And the organization and planning doesn’t stop there.
What if your story happens to be far away so you have to spend an hour or more of drive time? Do you know where you’re going or do you need to map it out? What if there is no photographer available and you have to be a one-man band, and you are using unfamiliar equipment? Are there fresh batteries in the wireless mic? All of this needs to be factored in.
The more organized you are, the better prepared you will be for all the obstacles in your way. And of course, when breaking news happens disregard everything I just said because you obviously can’t plan your day around that.