You’re busy, I’m busy — so I keep these tips, based on my newsroom life, to six paragraphs. I love writing them, and hope you find them useful.
A few weeks ago I was asked if I would help out with a rota problem in our TV newsroom by producing the lunchtime news, rather than presenting it. The idea intrigued me.
Producing a BBC news bulletin requires a very different skill-set from presenting or reporting. It’s less about the writing and the story-telling. Much more about the delegation, trust in the team, holding your nerve — you’re the one deciding what goes into the entire programme. Here are three things it taught me.
- You’ll probably discover that the other job isn’t as easy as you thought. This is of course good, because only by going under the bonnet of a colleague’s working day can you develop the empathy required to be a really good team-mate. I was reminded that there were a raft of unexpected little decisions to be made and tasks to be performed (newspapers read and monitored, captions chosen, on-screen graphics commissioned …) That will help me next time I’m needing the lunchtime producer’s attention.
- You may well discover that the other job is a bit easier than you thought. And no, I don’t think that’s a contradiction to Point 1. One of the things I quietly realised that morning was just how many other people there were to support me, waiting for me to delegate the tasks to them. As someone in the newsroom who’s generally seen (amiably, I hope) as a bit of a control freak, that forced me to test a set of skills in myself.
- You may well enjoy a shot of pure adrenaline that will leave you bursting to tell your partner about your day when you get home. I certainly did. And not just because, with four minutes to air, two of our live connections to our reporters hadn’t yet been established, and one of my the two edited reports I needed to fill the bulletin wasn’t yet finished. I’m quite used to holding my nerve filing a live report with minutes to spare — but it was quite a novelty to face last minute drama in the control room, with others looking to me for decisions on how we were going to fill an entire eleven minute news bulletin as the problems mounted. The adrenaline was not from doing it, but discovering I could do it.
What reasons can you think of to try someone else’s job in your workplace? Which members of your team could you switch around for the day, without compromising quality? Of course, it will never be possible for everyone. But with a bit of imagination and support, wouldn’t the personal development be worth the risk? I’ve been working in TV news for almost 29 years. But I think I’ll be a bit better at it tomorrow, than I was last month.
If you’d like me to create a little newsroom chaos in your workplace for a couple of hours, maybe we should chat about running one of my Newsroom Bootcamps for your staff?