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You’re busy, I’m busy.  So I keep these blog posts to five pithy paragraphs, all thoughts nicked from the newsroom I work in every week.  Thanks for taking an interest.

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It was all my idea, because I love showing enthusiastic young people around TV newsrooms.  Erin, nearly 10, and her brother Calum, nearly 8, had watched a video clip of me reading the news that their father had shown them, to embarrass me, when we came round for a meal in the middle of August.  They were so curious that I found myself saying to their parents: “Well, if you’ve got a couple of free hours this week, I’m on news reading shifts — so do drop in and take a look.”

I have done this many, many times — the BBC’s rule is that they remain supervised, and my rule is that the children are interested in the first place.  But this time, something struck me for the first time.  The kindness of my colleagues.  And that, I reckon, must play a part in building better working relationships in any environment.

A picture editor who I’ve always loved working with fired up some editing kit she’d just shut down ahead of her break, to show them how our news reports are built with different sound and video tracks.  She then let them have a go, smiling that her kids had been intrigued at that age too.  The producer of the programme answered all the children’s questions warmly, and it occurred to me that I wasn’t entirely sure whether he was a father himself.  And then, in the news gallery (the cockpit of the newsroom where there are as many buttons to press as there once were raspberry ruffles in a Woolworth’s Pick’n’Mix) I made a real discovery myself.

The sound engineer showed the children — and me — the Bong Button.  This is the button that is pressed to add drama to the news headline sequence, issuing forth a ‘bong’ between each headline.  I have been reading headlines now for 19 years, and had no idea such a button existed.  Imagine my delight when, once Erin and Calum had pressed it, I was granted permission to press it too.  Ed mentioned that he loved working in sound because he composed music in his spare time.  Hmm, I thought.  I did know that, but I’d forgotten.

Erin and Calum left that afternoon bubbling with stories of a teleprompter they were able to read off, buttons they were allowed to touch (supervised, of course) and people whose units of productivity were ‘stories’.  I left with an insight into my colleagues that day-to-day routines routinely preclude, and a belief that the next time we work together, we’ll work even better as a result.  I also now know where those bongs come from each evening.  And all because we got some kids in.

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If you’d like your team to work, think and laugh a little faster, give me a call to see if my Newsroom Bootcamp workshop might fit the bill.  Or come along to my next ticketed event in November, and try it for yourself!

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