I got my first paying job in TV news when I was 17 and a senior in high school. I had been interning in the sports department for two years when I got a chance to move over to editing to be a newscast editor. This was in the era of network feeds “coming down” at a certain time of the day and reporters calling in their PKGs via the Nextel. (I understand this may sound like Greek to anyone under 30)
Anyway, I got my first real lesson in what it feels like to be yelled at in the middle of the newsroom on my first week on the job.
I was the “11pm editor” at the time. I would leave school a little early and get in around 3:00pm to help out with reporter PKGs and the like. On this particular day I was assigned to edit a franchise peice for one of the more tenured anchors. I, being 17, tended to look for easier ways to do things, so I decided I would edit the story quicker if I simply didn’t bother with NAT sound. “WHY was I the first to think of this?!” “I’m so smart and resourceful!”…Ugh.
So I did this. Track-bite-track-bite-outcue…and then I just threw some video (No Audio) over the top and PRESTO! PKG.
Let’s just say the anchor was not pleased when this story aired. She came back to editing and found me and asked me “WHERE THE (BLANK) I HAD LEARNED TO EDIT AND WHAT (BLANK) JOURNALISM SCHOOL GAVE ME A (BLANK) DEGREE!?”
I wanted to cry. I remember just staring at her and not knowing what to do or say or how to react.
I had a few people stick up for me, telling her it was mean to yell because I was “just a kid.” That’s when it hit me. It didn’t matter how old or experienced I was, I was expectd to do the job and I should’ve done it correctly.
I went back into the newsroom and apologized to the anchor and told her it wouldn’t happen again. It never did.
The moral of the story is this: It’s never wise to use age or experience level as an excuse for an error. You don’t want to create a giant sign over your head that says, well, you are OVER YOUR HEAD!
Own the mistake and move on.