News Is Like a Box of Chocolates
The first time I ever saw Forrest Gump, I didn't realize just how much there was to learn from the film. Yet over the years, I've come to realize this and my experience in the newsroom has been yet another situation in which Forrest Gump's words of wisdom have taught me something valuable. Well, his momma's in this case.
Just like life, news is also like a box of chocolates because you never know what you're going to get. Each story is like a piece of chocolate and until you bite into it, there's no way to fully understand its flavor.
Sometimes, you get what you expect out of a good looking piece of chocolate.
Sometimes, a piece of chocolate will look delicious but then you bite into it only to realize that it's just not your taste.
Sometimes, you get halfway through the most delicious rasberry truffle only to find an almond at the center (you hate nuts) and you have to spit the whole thing out.
My point is, just like with chocolates, it's not always obvious which stories will turn out to be the best ones. Occasionally, the universe will work in your favor and a piece will turn out as expected. But usually, it takes the entire development process in order to realize whether or not a story will work.
Luckily, news is not like a box of chocolates in the sense that we - as producers - can influence the outcome of a story if we are dedicated to helping it succeed. The poor chocolates have no control over what is inside of them.
As Lead Producer this week, I realized just how essential a quality morning meeting is. Solid story ideas are just as important as their evolution throughout the day. However, once an interesting story idea is pitched, it is then essential that it be advanced and molded before it airs in the newscast. In the flurry of creating a rundown and staying in constant communication with everyone in the newsroom, I would have to constantly remind myself to check on and update stories in order try and make sure that they stayed "fresh."
In our morning meeting this week, my team collectively contributed a really good group of story ideas. Because our shift was Wednesday, a large focus of our first block in the newscast was the presidential debate. Unfortunately, the package on the debate that was assigned to a reporter did not come together as we had hoped so we had to break it down and create a new piece using the material we had. While this was unfortunate, it did teach me the importance of reacting quickly when I sense that a story is not developing as I had envisioned. However, in order to still advance the story, we assigned a multi-media journalist to stay in the newsroom during our newscast in order to watch the debate (which started at the same time as our newscast) and create a recap piece on it which we aired at the end of the show.
Being able to sense good ideas is key and developing them is a skill I am learning - from both my experience in the newsroom and, sure, maybe even from Forrest.