Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Making it happen

Today marks the eve of my first full work week at Fox News Channel in Washington, D.C., on "Special Report w/ Brit Hume." And what an experience it's been. There are several things I've learned while at Fox. The first is that network news is that much different from local news. The most obvious is the immensity of a network bureau compared to a local shop. The pace and intensity of work for national news is, to say the least, intense. If you don't know what you're doing, people quickly become disgruntled. But, that's when you keep pushing and never take it personally. As disgruntled as these overworked employees become, they're equally as willing to help you learn--that is, when they've turned their package du jour.
Another crucial element to surviving as an intern is that you MUST ask to do things. There are, of course, the occasional yuppie employees who make it their mission to teach you the ins and outs of the news business... which is great. But, the bigger dogs want to see initiative, and quite frankly, as my boss put it today, "seeking out cool and interesting things for the interns to do is not on the top of [their] list." He intended no malice, and none was taken. His philosophy: ask and you shall receive. Once you do ask, you will receive, and you will learn. Hopefully, that's what I've been doing.
A couple of interesting facts from the broadcast aspect of things:
1. Almost all editing is still done tape to tape. Their reason: if Fox upgrades to all digital, they're afraid the technology will have changed so much within three years that they'll once again be "out of the loop." One of the chief editors told me that convergence is inevitable. That means all "packaging" will be done from your desktop, eliminating the need for the conventional editor. I assume all those bays will become mini-starbucks.
2. Reporters don't go "out in the field." Much, anyway. With most of the major events, speeches, press conferences and breefings all on live feeds, the reporter can sit back in his or her office, collect the pertinent news and write their script. I don't mean to belittle the role of the reporter, but it's true that a lot of the work is done in-house and with the help of field producers and videographers. I think that takes some of the fun out of the biz.
To steal Mr. Hume's tag line: That's the report from Special Report this time... I hope you come again next time, and in the meantime, stay tuned for news fair, balanced and unafraid.


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