The new workplace

One of my first acts during my first day at work was to ask the location of the supply closet.  Turns out WXIA has no supply closet.

However, there is a supply drawer.  Looking for a stash of pens, I instead saw a claw hammer and a box of disposable dust masks.  There were also some reporter notebooks.  I grabbed a notebook.

News flash:  WXIA has no newsroom.  However, it does have an “information center,” a six-syllable synonym for the word one might have once used for that two-syllable locale.  During my first week at WXIA, I overheard a reporter quickly correct herself when she lapsed into the old language.

WXIA also has no high cubicles.  The newsroom information center, for all its 21st century nomenclature, has the old-school feel of a newsroom wherein colleagues can actually make eye-contact with each other without having to jump up from their seats.

"Hey- I work hard.  Why not my printer?"  Bill Liss, WXIA

"Hey- I work hard. Why not my printer?" Bill Liss, WXIA (the printer is over his right shoulder, I think)

My WXIA colleagues made clear that my new desk is in an area that utterly lacks prestige.  It’s next to a large garbage can.  It’s also adjacent to what is known as “the Liss Printer.”  I’ve tried to print scripts on the Liss Printer.  I’ve failed.  Moreover, I haven’t seen anybody actually pull any printed paper from the Liss Printer.

(Near as I can tell, reporter Bill Liss bears no blame or responsibility for the Liss Printer.  The printer is apparently so named because it’s near the Liss desk.)

Perhaps the Liss printer works fine, but my computer skills are inadequate.  That’s entirely possible.

WXIA has quaint old computers whose speed and utility seem comparable to those in my old workplace.  After using nothing but a Mac for the last two years, I’m re-learning Windows.

Last week, I accidentally “disappeared” three stories I had written moments earlier.  A couple of hours after the first story vanished, a producer politely asked me if she could delete some gibberish I’d obviously written or saved into the wrong page of the 7pm show rundown.  This was one of the missing stories.  I told her to flush the copy, which I’d long since re-written.

In another instance, I deleted what I thought was a duplicate copy of story I’d written.  Turned out it wasn’t a duplicate.  Joke’s on me.

All of this reflects the natural awkwardness that any new employee might find in a new workplace.  There’s a learning curve in a new job.  Thing is, I haven’t had a new employer since I was a man in my 20s.  So all this requires some re-orientation.  Which I’m delighted to get through; the new job has gone quite nicely thus far.  The people who staff the newsroom information center are very generous and helpful, as are the folks in the rest of the building.  The Bosslady seems to be an unfailingly positive presence, even when handling difficult stuff.

News flash:  WXIA has no chyron operator for newscasts.  If a reporter or producer has a chyron, you click on a program which has templates for the newscast.  You enter the super in the correct template.  You drag the completed super into the script.  The director (who is also the technical director) enters the super during the newscast, based on the time given on the rundown or tear sheet (which another station in a former life called a “tech sheet”).

WXIA has standard ID supers for its reporting staff, but hadn’t created one for me.  I was told the supers included a name and an e-mail address.  So I improvised “doug richards / apartment fire (at) gmail (dot) com.”

Then I heard Bud Veazey’s voice, for some reason.   I changed the second line to simply read: “11 Alive News.”

Update / Correction: That’s not the Liss Printer over Bill’s shoulder.

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About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

17 thoughts on “The new workplace

  1. Josh R.

    Ezra: once again you made a perfect choice.

    The reason it’s called the Bill Liss printer is because, in the old building, it was right next to Bill. The other printer (next to Jerry’s desk) is the Pole printer, because it used to be near a very large pole.

    Reply
  2. Jolly Roger

    The Liss printer, is actually not the one behind Liss in the photo. That is the
    “pole” printer.

    My guess is, the names carried over from the old building… When at that time the Liss printer, was in-fact, behind Bill Liss. The “pole” printer, was next to a large pole. In the new building, the pole printed seemed to find a new home near another pole, but the Liss printer was further removed from its namesake. The liss printer is now next to you, so maybe we should re-name it “doug”

    Reply
  3. Sammy

    I’ll be reading the obit’s over the next two weeks for your reported suicide caused by an overdose of boredom and monotomy!

    Reply
  4. Ed-Covington

    Doug/LAF:
    Just found your blog thanks to a link from Mark Bradley. Funny stuff. Always wondered why news departments send out on-scene reporters to the most mundane sites with no real news value.
    “We’re here in front of Grady Hospital where EMTs ealier today brought the accident victim…” How is showing a reporter live in front of Grady relevant to the news story? Why even go to the expense of sending a reporter & crew there?
    “We’re live here at Spaghetti Junction where ealier today….”
    “We’re live here at Perimeter Mall where yesterday…”
    “We’re live here at the airport where….”
    “We’re live here at City Hall…”
    Get my drift? Do focus groups actually comment that they prefer this? Do they comment; “Why don’t you show a live feed from the hospital where the accident victim was taken?”?

    Reply
    1. newsishardwork

      those of us inside the bubble know the ugly truth about fronting stories from locations like the hospital, but what’s the alternative? Have every reporter report from a corner of the newsroom?

      Besides, most viewers don’t know how it works behind the curtain. Not becuase they’re not smart enough to get it, but because they don’t care nearly as much as we do. When I was younger and not in the biz, if I saw a reporter at the hospital, I assumed he/she had been there working the story all day and rushed outside to file the report for the newscast. Again, we’re on the inside now, so we know the reporter probably made calls. had coffee, wrote and tracked the piece in-house and ran out to the hospital in time for the 5pm live.

      You made some good points in your post though. sometimes we could all do with a little self-examination.

      Reply
  5. cityjock

    Tv stations spend obscene amounts of money on their live truck fleets.

    They’re not going to let them sit and gather pollen.

    Unfortunately.

    Reply
  6. newsishardwork

    About the chyrons…
    I’ve worked for several stations, small and (slightly) bigger, and it’s been that way at all of them. I have only a vague idea of what a “chyron operator” does. I’m guessing it’s a person who manually makes each and every graphic? Every director I’ve ever known has punched the supers during the show too.

    Reply
  7. JeremyK

    Ed-Covington: As for going live in front of mundane sites… There are always a couple explanations.

    1.) The producer “needs it to be live” because, yes, focus groups have said live presence and interaction with anchors makes the show seem more current and active. The authenticity of the research might be debated, but it’s become a fact of life for newsies.

    2.) Some will say multiple live crews, over time, creates the mindset among viewers that the station is always out in the field, always covering the news, always live, and, therefore, always able to bring you breaking news at a moment’s notice.

    Or then there’s…. 3.) Why I was live in front of the Alabama Capitol last night. The story had just wrapped up a littler earlier. We only had enough time to quickly assemble a package, feed it in, and step in front of the camera. It was fronted live from the Capitol not because anything was still going on there…. But because simple logistics made it impossible to drive the story 75 miles back to Birmingham in time to lead the show.

    Of course, we could have just fed in a “straight package.” But that wouldn’t be any fun… 🙂

    Reply
  8. arky

    Just to amplify Jeremy’s comments, back when I was a nightbeat TV reporter, I would almost always lead the 11 o’clock show with my 1:30 package. This was before livemania struck, so it was usually tape. I was talking about my job with a friend of mine one day, and he actually asked, “So you’ve done that story… what do you do for the rest of the day?”

    This guy is no dummy; he was a law school student at the time. But he, like the average viewer, has no concept of the time it takes to put a fully-rounded piece together. (This was a medium market, so we weren’t leading with a Live Apartment Fire every night.) Simply because I wasn’t seen live, it didn’t occur to him that I was often finishing that package just minutes before airtime. As far as the viewer was concerned, I might have been home by that point. (It’s especially an issue in the summer when the 11:00 package you’re shooting consists mostly of daylight video.)

    No, viewers don’t consciously say, “I wonder why the reporter isn’t live right now” anymore than they consciously say, “I appreciate the fact that they have an ethnically diverse, generically attractive male-female pair sitting at the anchor desk.” But various factors subconsciously make a difference.

    Reply

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