The importance of building experience



By: Mandy Mitchell

Those who hurry do not arrive.

I wanted to share a quick story with you. I had a moment on the air a few days ago that made me realize how the steps I have made in this business really paid off.

I was anchoring our high school football show and there was a big error with the break times. It was pretty much a complete cluster behind the scenes. Long story short, we were able to come up with a way to fill a significant chunk of  extra time and the viewer was none the wiser.

A couple of people complimented my demeanor through the broadcast and my ability to remain calm and problem-solve instead of getting flustered. The reason I am telling you this story is because it would not have been nearly as smooth a decade ago.

The calm came from experience.

There are going to be times when you think working in a small market is a waste of time. The stories you are covering are not as big as you would like. The equipment is likely not as good as you would like and your pay certainly isn’t what you would like.

That’s when you have to remember the steps matter. Every step you take in this business, every newscast you produce, every live shot you do, adds up and eventually becomes experience.

I had a director at my first shop who couldn’t punch a show to save his life. My tapes (yeah, we used tapes at the time) would be rolled in many different orders and stopped at random times. This crap drove me nuts! I was only focused on my resume reel at the time and couldn’t stand it when I was having a great show and then some random tape would run out of order. I didn’t understand this was really making me better.

We didn’t have a wireless mic at my first station. I complained about this daily and used it as an excuse to not try creative things. Then one day I realized how to work around this and used a long cable, propped the mic on a fence and was able to shoot my own creative stand-up. Would it have been better if we had good gear? Yes! But not having it taught me to think outside the box and find a new way to solve the problem.

You start collecting these experiences the moment you step into a newsroom.

It is really easy to get into the mindset of “get job, get reel, get out,” but you really shouldn’t rush through any step you take.

Whether you are in a small market trying to get to a bigger market, or you started in a big market trying to work your way up in the newsroom, don’t rush. Approach each day realizing it’s a building block for where you will be in 10 years. I know that’s cheesy, but it helps when things go wrong.

Your IFB died while the anchor was tossing to you? Sure you’re ticked now, but you’ve also added an experience. Next time that happens, you will handle it better. Celebrate!

Your lead story missed slot and two live shots failed during your newscast? Sure, you want to scream, but you’ve just added an experience. Celebrate!

I have never met a true veteran in this business who skipped or rushed a step. Ask anyone you admire and you will find story after story of things that went wrong or were really frustrating. You will also notice that person makes it look easy now.

Few people can fake that.

I can’t tell you how grateful I was for experience when I sat on that set dealing with what could have been pretty embarrassing. You, too, will have that kind of moment at some point. Hopefully when you do you will have the same success because you built the strong foundation along the way.




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