Q&A with a news director


WBIR (Knoxville, TN) News Director, Martha Jennings, was kind enough to give us some of her time to answer many different questions. What do you look for in a reel? How should someone ask for feedback?

Below is an excerpt of the conversation. To hear the full conversation, check out the podcast interview HERE.

This is the fourth episode of The “A-Block” Podcast. You can now subscribe on iTunes HERE.

Q: Our industry has changed so much in the last 5 years. What is the next step for the business?

A: I think the next step is not sitting down and doing things the same old traditional ways we have been doing it. I think constantly people are building new sets but they still surround this desk… This old traditional desk that people sit at and read things to you. I think you have to make your newscast trigger an emotion within people. Too often we sit down and the 30 minutes of local news that we watch, you can walk away and feel nothing and I think that’s a huge mistake. That’s the thing I think we have to change. We have to transform our content to be relevant for folks who are sitting down and watching news. I just think the sitting down and reading “headlines”we have to shake that up and that’s what we are constantly doing in our newsroom right now and I think the positions in the newsroom are going to change. I don’t think that you will have just a line producer, just a digital producer, just a reporter and just a photographer.We have long gone to a “multi-skilled journalist.” All of our anchors are learning to shoot and edit.

Q: What if you are in a newsroom that is “old fashioned” and still believes in reading headlines from a set and the traditional ways of delivering news? How do you keep your skills fresh for making that next move?

A: Just because your requirement at the end of the day is just a pkg and a vosot and maybe you have someone else who writes your web story…always write your web story! If you’re not staying fresh and writing for both platforms and posting it to your social media platforms you’re going to lose that ability to multitask. That is going to be so crucial anywhere that you go.

As an anchor, if you are entering a smaller market as maybe an anchor/reporter, treat those reporting days twice as important as your anchoring days because the three days you will spend reporting are the three days that will get you your next job.

Q: Do news directors like when employees ask for feedback and what is a good way to do that?

A: Oh my goodness yes! If I don’t hear that then I think two things: They think they are doing great and I know there are things I need to work with them on or I just think that they don’t want feedback. Sometimes people reach our to their former college professors too, but then they are hearing from who they are comfortable hearing from. They are not hearing from the person who hired them and who saw something in them.

It’s all about the approach and it’s all about how that news director wants to be approached. I’m not someone who likes the drive-by meetings, like the pop-in “hey do you have second,” because it’s never a second. I always appreciate those who send an e-mail and set up a meeting.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s