Monday, August 16, 2010
For Now, Something New
I have mastered 5pm. Six years as a television news producer, and it's the only show I have ever regularly produced. Sure, I have hopped in and done an 11pm, a 6pm or a morning show here and there (along with the occasional special production), but no newscast has ever felt as familiar or as comfortable as the five. I know what people watching the news as five need to know. I know what they want to know.
Friday was my last 5pm....well, for now. Today, I totally immersed myself in a new project. In just under a month, my station is launching an hour long 4pm newscast. First I will develop it. Then, I will launch it and for an undetermined amount of time, I will produce it. As I often do with new projects, I approach this one with nervous excitement. Nervous because it is monumental. It's been a while since I have produced an hour's worth of content on a daily basis, but I haven't forgotten how draining it is. Excitement because it's a fresh challenge. It will ward off any looming complacency and re-measure my versatility.
As I envision it, news at 4pm looks very different than it is at 5pm, despite it being the difference of only one hour. Since we first announced this project, I've seen the show as "news in process." At 4, the reporters are still gathering, the editors are still cutting video, the graphics designers are still designing graphics. There's no point in trying to hide that. Transparency is much more effective. I plan to build a show that lets viewers know that we're in the climax of our workday, preparing for 5 and 6. The 4 will be a window into that work flow. Reporters in the field will quite literally be dropping what they are doing to fill us in on what they have so far, then going right back to work. Sometimes they won't even have time to set up a camera and a microwave signal. They'll join us via skype or through their iphones. I'm talking about unpolished, sleeves rolled up, unscripted and maybe even breathless broadcasts.
We've also enlisted a panel of local experts ready to weigh in on a moment's notice. I can't list them just yet, but that's been what I have been working on for the past week or so. I can tell you, the show will be anchored by Jamie Boll and Brigida Mack, a decision just announced today. The whole weather team will be involved, and we are looking for someone to navigate people through Charlotte's hellish afternoon commute.
I thought about talking about the impact this project will have on running and training for a marathon, but the truth is, I don't know. I'll go in a little earlier, get out a little earlier, but I plan on not taking frequent lunch breaks just like it's always been. We launch September 13th, exactly two months before the Richmond Marathon, so I guess I'll have a little bit of time to figure it out.