Daily Archives: February 17, 2011

Slow news day

You probably already know this, but this point is worth restating.  TV reporters aren’t necessarily welcomed wherever they go.  Here’s an example from an encounter I had last month at the state capitol.  It’s complete with a video re-enactment, embedded at the bottom of this post.

First, let’s set the scene.  I’m producing a story that we in the news business call a “followup,” or an “update.”  It’s a story first reported days or weeks or months ago, revisited by your friendly neighborhood TV news professional.

Now a lot of folks may think my staff sets up this stuff while I apply makeup and hairspray.

I ain’t got no staff. I gotta make it happen.

I go to the office of a member of the Georgia General Assembly, a behind the scenes player I’d never met  before.  I’m in his office because he hasn’t returned my phone calls.

He’s standing in his office.  I introduce myself, and he greets me with a look that can only be described as a sneer.

“How can I help you?” he says with sneering contempt.

I explain to him that I’m pursuing a story updating a situation that made a lot of news in his district several months ago.  My pitch is persuasive.  My logic is flawless.

He retorts with the following:

“Why you wanna dredge up that mess again?  We ain’t interested in that no more.  That’s in the past.”

Then he follows with this classic.

“Why, it must be a sloooow news day.”  And then he chuckles heartily.

Why does he chuckle?  Because that line “it must be a slow news day” is widely regarded as the cleverest and most dismissive thing you can say when a persuasive and flawlessly logical newsman comes a-calling to pursue a story.

I left that guy’s office without even asking him for an interview.  Instead, I did the story without his input.  And I left his office with every bit of the respect I had when I walked in.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
slooow news day, posted with vodpod