The stories we tell ourselves

 

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By: Mandy Mitchell

Being a good storyteller is a great trait to have if you are working in TV news. We all need to be able to tell stories to succeed in this business. The one thing we can’t do is tell stories to ourselves.

Most of us have an inner commentary about our lives that is constantly playing out in our minds. The stories can be pretty simple.

You can have a story in your head about how the news director doesn’t like you. Your story could be about how other anchors are favored and given more reads and relevant assignments. You may have a story about why you are stuck on the weekends when others keep jumping ahead of you to Monday-Friday shifts. We all do this and many of us don’t realize it.

The problem with these mental stories is they are not often backed up by actual facts and they can affect your happiness.

Does your news director really dislike you or is it just a matter of her not paying you enough attention? I’ve seen reporters go into a complete tailspin when a news director failed to compliment a story.

Do you think she didn’t like it? What if I never get another good assignment? What if I never get another good assignment and then never move to a bigger market? Is my career over?! My career is probably over!!!

The reporter is taking a story and running with it without the basic facts. I assure you, if the ND didn’t say anything about your story, that’s because it was fine and it met expectations. Or she didn’t even see it because she was stuck in a budget meeting and wasn’t watching the newscast. If you knew these facts you would likely feel foolish about the massive story you’ve been telling yourself.

The key is to recognize when you get lost in what is truly storytelling in your brain. When you recognize it you should try to identify the actual facts. You are a journalist, so presumably you can tell the difference between fact and fiction…I hope!

Once you recognize the facts, it’s easier to stop the story.

 

“Nothing fools you better than the lie you tell yourself.”
-Teller, Magician

 

Most of the time when you stop the story, you can relax. If you can’t relax then you should try to explore the facts. Ask your news director for a meeting to discuss the PKG she didn’t seem to notice. This meeting will be a lot more productive than if you start crying 4 months later and ask your ND why she “hates you.”

If you are stuck on weekends, explore the facts. Is it because your boss thinks you like weekends and you seem happy? Is it because your boss thinks you need to improve? Is it because the person who jumped to a M-F gig actually makes less money and is not as valuable? Ask questions to get facts instead of coming up with your own story about what is probably happening.

This is a hard skill to learn but it’s helpful. Try to get a better grasp of what is going on in your brain and save the storytelling for the newscast.

 

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