Monday, March 06, 2006

Coming up next...burnout

Oh, to be a producer. While the anchors and reporters get the glory, the producer sits at a desk, churning out smart things for the anchors to say, and praying that their carefully-stacked newscast won't tumble at the last second. And when the newscast goes sour, who gets the blame? Yep, the producer. What, you thought the anchor was going to get the blame?

So, it was no surprise when I saw this study on Newslab that found 20% of all producers are experiencing burnout. Others are exhausted and cynical, which are sure signs that someone is going to get mad as hell, and not take it anymore. And to think, news directors are shocked, just shocked to learn there's a shortage of good producers out there!

Why the burnout? Probably the day-to-day monotony of trying to fill the same old rundown with the same old stuff. Producers at WNEP continue to feed words like "flames" and "blaze" to Mike Lewis as he talks about minor house fire no. 39, while their counterparts at WBRE and WYOU struggle to find a show open that doesn't end with the weather forecaster saying, "WBRE/WYOU News starts right now."

Perhaps this is a sign to each station that perhaps they should try something new? What's the worst that will happen? WNEP is so far ahead in the ratings that it would take an act of God to knock them off their pedestal. And WBRE/WYOU don't even subscribe to Nielsen anymore, so they have nowhere else to go but up (unless WYLN comes out of nowhere).

To the news directors who surely read this blog: save a producer, change your rundowns.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, name me one person in communications of any sort who has been in the job for more than a year or three who ISN'T cynical and burned out. I don't know but I suspect it has something to do with not knowing that what you've made is working. Ratings are the only indication but they're not immediate and they're the only yardstick we have even if the methodology is flawed or the books fell in an odd pattern or any number of other factors that can make the results not an accurate reflection of the job done. The idea of doing a job that doesn't have obvious results I think is the biggest factor in fomenting cynicism and burnout. It's why I enjoy simple, menial tasks. Painting a room. Hanging blinds and curtain rods, cutting the grass. I do it and when it's done, I see how it turned out. A lot to be said for that. And when you don't have that gratification and are not able to see the immediate result...over and over and over...year in and year out, it can wear on you.

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howard, you're again missing the big story. WNEP has a new 11pm anchor. Get to work! I wonder if you work any of the three network affils in the market?

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great post above!

I'm in this biz for the everyday satisfaction. Sure there are days I get burned out, but then there are days where I have victories with great stories.

Only news directors, executive producers and GMs are really concerned about those ratings... okay maybe ad execs, too.

Here's some food for thought. We know WNEP is far, far ahead in the ratings war, but the playing field will never be leveled until the diaries are tossed out in this market and the change is made to metering.

Guess who's against that move? WNEP ! Why change the game when you're supposedly ahead. Consider the DC market. NBC4 was long the ratings king, but with newly implemented metering, ABC7 has steered into first place in many slots.

I wouldn't count your shares before they're hatched... WNEP is one big head game-- for the people there in the building, on the streets and in the air. It's Napoleanic.

Good luck with all the head-games and ratings wars.

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some rumors are spreading about WNEP and possible staffing cuts ? Anybody know anything about this ?
I've heard 16 was told by parent company, The New York Times, it's time to cut the fat. This would be an interesting, but confusing move by the station that has built itself up to empire standards.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Howard Beale said...

To the 10:26 a.m. anonymous poster:

This may sound surprising, but a promotion to 11 p.m. anchor isn't "the big story." But if you're disappointed with the content of my blog, please e-mail me, and I'll be happy to refund the money you paid to read the blog!


8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anonymous who posted at 12:17pm:

It may surprise you, but WNEP didn't oppose meters when it came up for serious discussion a few years ago. Even if 16 were against meters, the other stations could have forced the switch.

A metered market is much more costly to the stations. Do you honestly think WVIA, FOX 36 AND WB38 would fork over the dough? It's already clear where 22/28 stands, those guys won't even pay the toll to have a ratings book!

12:04 AM  

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