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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California


Take Heed From Those Who Came Before You


In case it hasn't been readily apparent from some of my previous blog entries, one of my other lives here at USC is that of a martial artist--I train at the USC Shinkendo Club and recently began studying Aikido.  A term we hear all the time at the dojo is "sensei," used to refer to the instructor.  But "sensei" literally means "the one who came before," and while I'm nowhere near the ranks of the elite in producing, I'm definitely "the one who came before" the new crop of ATVN producers.  This is my inspiration for my blog today, seeing as it's also the last day of classes (which I'm also vehemently denying in my mind...that's another blog post, though).  So while I'd technically be regarded as "senpai"--loosely translated as "senior" student--I thought I'd pass along some thoughts to the new crop of J403s.  I've taken to martial arts texts for inspiration, because I think they speak profoundly to what I want to say within the ATVN context.

"If there is anything you do not understand, press the master tenaciously until you are satisfied with his explanation."
- Jigoro Kano, founder of Judo

I feel this extends well past the J403s and into the whole of ATVN, especially the ones who are just starting out (and who may become producers someday).  Take initiative.  Do not just sit idly waiting for something to come to you.  Constantly pester your senpai to teach you as much as you possibly can learn.  And if you don't understand it, keep asking until you do.  And when you do, continually teach the new crop of ATVNers.  You'll find you'll be able to teach more effectively when you understand thoroughly.

"In Japanese, to do something shinken means to do it seriously and earnestly, as if one were using a real sword."
- Toshishiro Obata, founder of Shinkendo

One of the things this class (and Annenberg as a whole, really) does really well is to get you to think like a producer/reporter/whatever in the real world.  It's easy to think that, because this is a student-run newscast, a student-run organization, that it won't be taken as seriously as the professionals will.  But treat it as such, because it will have long-term effects one way or another.  To refer back to Obata-sensei's quote, you wouldn't handle a real sword like that--you know that it can cut deep.  In many things, once something is cut, it can never be put back together again, so a certain degree of judiciousness is required when handling a real sword.  The same is true for ATVN--treat it like a professional newscast.  If not for your grade, do it for your career.  One only needs to look at the Alumni Board in the newsroom to see what kind of lasting effects ATVN can have.

"Be grateful even for hardship, setbacks, and bad people."
- Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido

Sometimes you're going to want to throw in the towel.  Sometimes you're going to feel overwhelmed, that everything conspires to go wrong on your given day.  The fact of the matter is, though, that these are the kinds of instances that give you the greatest learning experiences.  You may not like it at the time, but you'll look back on it and say later that you gained a lot from that experience.

I've left the interpretation wide open for you, dear reader, to apply accordingly.  That's the beautiful thing about these quotes--they can be applied to anything.  Ultimately it is up to you to fill in the spaces with whatever happens to be applicable at the time.

Oh, and one more thing--take the time to commend your team as well.  They'll appreciate it in the long run.

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