Embrace the shake

By: Mandy Mitchell

In this TED Talk artist Phil Hansen talks about developing a tremor in his hand when he was in art school. He could no longer produce the kind of art he wanted so he quit. That’s when he got some advice from a doctor to “embrace the shake.” It’s advice that lead to a fantastic career creating things he never would have imagined if not for that setback.

(I encourage you to take the 10 minutes to watch. It is well worth your time)

Now what does this have to do with TV news you ask? It’s really about learning to work within our limitations and truly embrace the challenges we face every day in this business.

It’s the old “work with what you have and don’t worry about what you don’t” philosophy.

Let’s say you have a passion for long-form reporting. You daydream about the chance to do a 60 minutes level story and think about what it would be like to really let your reporting breathe. Only problem is, you work for a station that will not allow you to do a PKG longer than 1:15.

Embrace that challenge!

This is a chance to become a more concise writer. This forces you to choose your words and soundbites carefully. Maybe you can learn to use NAT sound to help you tell a better story quickly. If you learn to do this, and truly embrace this, you will be a much better reporter whenever you do get the chance to work for 60 Minutes!

You are a producer at a small market station. You have 1 live truck and it’s broken 3 days a week. The challenge is to find ways to be creative with the resources you DO have. It’s like Hansen with his hamburger grease (seriously, you need to watch the TED talk!)

What can you really do without live reporters?

Become the master of great tease writing. Work with your reporters/Photographers/MMJs to find great SOT teases. Scour the national feeds for interesting soundbites and great video.

Don’t complain about the lack of resources. Lean in to the challenge.

You’re an MMJ. How can you possibly shoot creative stand-ups? That’s your “shake.”

Force yourself to think of new ways to be creative. Can you shoot your stand-up using two shots? Can you put your camera at a weird angle. How can you use your surroundings?

We all get caught up in complaining about what our stations don’t have. We all think about how much better we could be with better equipment or better co-workers or better management or more time. This is a chance to change your thinking.

If Phil Hansen can create art with food he spit out, we can make good TV with what we have!


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