Ask for forgiveness, not permission

Kianey Carter is a producer with nearly a decade of experience. She’s worked in newsrooms in Fresno, Raleigh and now Phoenix while working just about every newscast possible. 

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Ask for forgiveness, not permission. This is a message I learned from an anchor a few years into my young producing career. It is quite possibly the best advice I ever received.

As a young producer, I was eager to distinguish myself and show my worth. I worked on a 5 hour morning show and was always looking for ways to help make our show better and to not be repetitive. I would dream up ideas and then throw them out at planning meetings. Many times I got good feedback. Many times I was told no or to try and “cook” my idea more and go over it with my EP later.

After one of those meetings, I was really defeated. It seemed like all the other producers had these fantastic ideas that everyone loved and mine were just so-so.

My anchor, seeing me defeated, pulled me aside and asked “Why do you keep asking permission?” I looked at her puzzled and said “Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do?” She replied “yes and no” and then proceeded to tell me to be like Nike and “just do it.”

Later that week, I had an idea to help spruce up a segment. I planned it out on my rundown and the anchors, director and crew just went with it.

Lo and behold, it worked out and everyone liked it. No one made a big deal out of it, but recognized it was different and appreciated my creativity.

From that moment on, I realized I just have to trust my instincts and creativity.

Sometimes my ideas are great. Other times they’ve been flops.  This isn’t to say I just do whatever I want when I want. There are plenty of times when I’ve asked for help from my EP or director or fellow producer to fully “bake” an idea or see if my vision would truly work. For me this is the art of producing. It’s about collaborating with others on an idea to make your newscast stand out.

I was lucky to learn this lesson early in my career. You don’t have to always ask to do something.

You were hired because someone thought you were bright, intelligent, creative and would make a great asset to the team. Trust that person’s judgement and your own. If you have doubts or questions, ask. I’ve never been reprimanded for taking a chance on something. If my ND didn’t like something, they’ve always told me, but they’ve never asked me to stop trying. That’s the key. Don’t stop trying. More managers are willing to work with someone they see is trying to make their product better than someone who is just happy doing the same thing over and over.

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