Welcome to the PIT List!

I'm a network field producer who also worked in local tv as a line producer and field producer. Over the years, I have had the great fortune to work with super people. Now I'd like to pass along what I know and rant a tad.

"Dear Maggie..." pitlist@gmail.com
I check it sporadically, but I love answering emails, so if you have an issue or difficult person you need help with, don't hesitate to shoot it my way.

Maggie L

Maggie L
One of the rare times I'm in the office

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Journalism Conference

This year's RTNDA/SPJ conference in New Orleans looks like a good one. There are lots of heavy hitters speaking and some interesting pre-conference workshops. It's not cheap though-- $275 for early bird registration. But it's a great place (outside of the newsroom) to refresh your skills, learn new ones as well as mix and mingle. Plus, New Orleans is awesome. The conference website is http://excellenceinjournalism.org/

They trust us. A Little.

New Gallup data shows Americans Regain Some Confidence in Newspapers, TV News. Our ranking among American institutions? #11. The military was #1. For what it's worth, we beat Congress at #16.

Americans Regain Some Confidence in Newspapers, TV News

Friday, July 1, 2011

Preventing Mistakes

I received an email from a producer majorly stressing about catching mistakes, errors and misspellings. Here's my best advice...

It helps to build in layers of prevention. For example, if you're worried about bad fonts... have someone, anyone... else look over your fonts a half hour before the newscast. Any set of eyes other than yours will catch mistakes.

Ditto with scripts-- do you have an EP? They should be looking over all of the scripts of your show. If not, maybe look to an anchor or writer as a second set of eyes.

We're all human. You will make mistakes... so as many systems or extra people you can have looking at things, the better. Also, don't underestimate the power of the final readthrough--- after you've approved all scripts, do one final read through, reading everything out loud. Your ears will catch things your eyes won't. Make sure you are reading and consuming a lot of local news. By reading and listening and watching a lot of stuff, you'll catch nit-noid mistakes (wait-- was that 3 cars in that accident? I thought I read 4 somewhere...) My favorite (horrifying) mistake that made air was back when I was a writer-- I wrote that Easter celebrated the birth of Christ. I wrote it in a rush and two other people read it and didn't catch. I still cringe when I think of it today. We got calls. A lot of them.

To do a lot of these preventative checks.. you have to get your stuff done early. This is good practice anyway and allows everyone else time to do their jobs better. So shoot for generally having most everything done about an hour before the newscast. Then you can do your final checks, write teases and wait for the inevitable spot news to blow up your show. By being generally done by an hour-ish ahead of time... you can be free to respond to whatever crisis that pops up.

Do something non work related to make you better able to meet stress. Walk, run, swim-- whatever floats your boat... do something physical to help combat the inevitable irks that come your way. Also, do like I say and not like I did (as a show producer) and skip the 3 Mountain Dew/cheeseburger days. They do not help you stay calm cool and collected. Finally-- get a life outside of work! Join a club, hit a movie with friends. That gives you a better perspective when you do deal with work craziness.

And lighten up! Remember, it ain't brain surgery. No one dies if you screw up. Still, aim to give your best to your viewers and your co-workers each and every day.