Thanksgiving in the newsroom

How many times have you heard “you are going to work holidays” whenever someone tells you about the bad parts of TV news?

Hearing this and actually doing it are two very different things. I always knew I was going to have to work on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it didn’t truly sink in until my first year in the business. I thought I would be ok until I was staring at ENPS and eating cold turkey at my desk on Thanksgiving night. I can’t remember ever feeling more alone.

That’s the year when I figured something out. You HAVE to embrace your work family. If there is not a newsroom party planned, you make it happen. Get everyone to bring in a favorite dish. Do it up with lots of desserts. Bring in candy and cookies and make yourself sick eating too much good stuff.

Give hugs. Ask your coworkers to talk about Thanksgiving traditions. Talk to people about missing family or what it feels like to miss out. You are all doing it!

I can’t tell you how many great memories I have made on major holidays in a newsroom since that one pretty awful Thanksgiving.

You have to make the best of it and realize it does get better as you spend more years in the biz. I get Holidays off sometimes now! And even when I don’t, I am used to it, so it doesn’t sting as much as those first years.

I appreciate you taking the time to read the stuff we put on this blog. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and make some memories even if you happen to be spending it in a newsroom (or at a mall shooting video of the crazy people)!

A book you should read

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By: Mandy Mitchell

Over the past 6 months I have become really interested in mindful meditation. I have been a sponge about the subject and have been reading and listening to everything I can about how it works and its benefits.

I also started practicing meditation. I got an app on my phone and I try to give it at least 5 to ten minutes a day. I can tell you it does make a difference. I am learning how to better control my thoughts and understand how the mind works. THAT is not what this post is about, though.

I was searching for a book to read about the subject and I came across this one. It was recommended to me in a blogpost about meditation so I had no idea it was written by news anchor Dan Harris.

This book is about how Harris broke into the business, his ego, his temper and how he became depressed after spending time in war zones. He started using drugs and then went to therapy. He writes about the anxiety of this business and the times he would worry about how it may all fall apart. (who among us hasn’t had that worry?) He even talks about what it was like to work with Peter Jennings and what it feels like to be left out of coverage of big events.

Anyway, I went into the book wanting to learn more about meditation and came away from it thinking everyone in TV news should read it. Yes, he does talk a great deal about meditation and even his time going to a retreat, but it is much more than that.

Because he is a reporter he approaches the subject as a reporter. He interviews experts and talks about his process of learning. He also notes how his opinion on things change as he continues to learn from experts. This is useful to any reporter who is diving deep on any subject.

I truly appreciate Dan for being completely open, honest and funny. I can see how the book is helpful to anyone in any profession, but it REALLY spoke to me as a TV news journalist. If you have spent time in a newsroom you will be able to relate to the many stories he tells!

Take some “you” time

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By: Mandy Mitchell

TV news tends to be the kind of business that is all-consuming. You can easily go from college to your first TV station and then your second TV station without ever unpacking a box at your apartment. Those of us who really love our work (the ones who love it enough to read a blog about it) are generally pretty obsessive about it. I don’t mean obsessed in a bad way, but I mean the work is always on your mind. You want to do great work so you don’t want to let a story idea slip by. You don’t want to let a big assignment go to someone else. You are constantly checking your e-mail and your news alerts. I get it. I do that too.

In order to do that really great work over a long period of time, you have to have an outlet. You have to find a place where you don’t bring your cell phone and where you are not thinking about the news. It’s very important to find a hobby that has absolutely nothing to do with anything else you do on a daily basis.

For me, that hobby is fitness. In my first market I really didn’t see the benefit of this as a “hobby.” I would go to the gym, but I would fit that gym visit into my day between assignments. I would shoot a story in the morning and force a gym visit before shooting a minor league baseball game at night. Working out was a chore. I didn’t use it as an escape. As I have gotten more experienced I have learned to make my workouts “my time.” I can’t tell you how much this has truly helped me in my job.

For one, it is the one thing I have complete and total control of every single day. I don’t control breaking news. I don’t control my coworkers work ethic or if my boss is in a bad mood. I do control how far I run or hard I work when I am at the gym.

Having control, even if it’s for a brief period of time every day, is important.

I am a big fan of audible and I listen to audio books while working out. It allows me to completely escape the news and it helps me to focus on something and not let my brain wander into thinking about work. When I am done with my workout, whether that be a run, the gym, a bike ride or a long hike, I am much more focused and ready for my day.

If I don’t take the time to “get away” on any given day, I can tell. I am tired. I get burned out and work stops being fun.

It may not feel like you have time for a hobby. It may feel like work needs to be all- consuming in order to “get ahead.” I encourage you to make the time for yourself. Find time to read a novel (not the news). Take time to watch a episode of a show on Netflix.

A daily mental escape is very important to doing this job and doing it well for a long period of time.

This post was originally from 2016