What is that problem you ask? Looking presentable. I came to this epiphany one night when I looked at the clock, it was 10 minutes until news time, I glanced at the mirror, things were not looking good. I quickly grabbed my can of hair spray and sprayed it feverishly all over my head hoping to tame the frizz. If you’ve ever sprayed aerosol hair spray, you know it creates a cloud of sticky smells. Suddenly I remembered that our web journalist was sitting only a few feet away, I stopped and looked at him and said, “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry! I should have warned you!” with his nose scrunched up, he replied, “These are the types of things I didn’t have to deal with when I worked in print.”
I reflected on what he said and realized as TV journalists, particularly one man band journalists, not only do we drive ourselves everywhere, drag our gear around, shoot our own video, write scripts, track, and edit packages together, but we also have to somehow look decent enough to present our report on live television. Some days are easier than others. The days where my “Plan A” story works out brilliantly from the get go and I finish with an hour to spare, looking decent on television is no problem. But unfortunately in this business, those days are rare, sometimes it’s breaking news that throws a wrench in plans, other times people don’t want to be interviewed, etc. As the Louisiana summers heat up, the 99 degree weather melts the make up right off my face and frizzes up my hair. So those days that I finish with 10 minutes to spare, looking in the mirror is like losing a battle, I accept defeat and mat my hair down with hair spray and throw on lipstick.
At my television news internships in college, the reporters there seemed so much more
glamorous. It may be because they had photographers assigned to them daily. On the drive back from stories the photographer would drive and the reporter would sit tapping out their story on their blackberry. By the time we arrived back at the station, the reporter only had to pick out and transcribe their sots, drop them in their scripts, track their voices and then wait until the newscast at 11 p.m. Sometimes, reporters had up to 3 hours to take a dinner break, or do their hair and makeup. Through my intern eyes, it seemed so easy! It didn’t seem as if they were rushing around as much as I feel I do.
But the industry is changing, only in the tippy top markets do reporters get photographers and editors. By the time I get to those markets, everybody will be an MMJ. Why pay 3 people, when you can only pay 1? Luckily for me, shooting and editing video are some of my favorite parts of putting a story together. But being a one man band means needing every second of my shift to put together my 90 second package plus whatever else needs to be covered that day, which in turn cuts in on the “looking presentable” preparation time. But hey! You win some, you lose some. Can any other OMB or MMJ’s relate? Print journalists, do you feel lucky not having to deal with this #reporterproblem?
In honor of facebook activating hash tags, I will leave you with this: #partylikeajournalist