Editor’s note: Poynter’s Al Tompkins writes: Les Rose gave this year’s graduates a gift: some final thoughts to take with them to their first TV news jobs. Les worked in TV for many years before joining the Newhouse faculty at Syracuse University. You don’t have to be in journalism to enjoy his advice. Read on.
- Know your custodian’s name. They work a helluva lot harder than you ever will.
- Learn to select the best sandwich that will not fall apart as you drive. Also, consider iced coffee
over hot. There are bumps in the road.
- If someone takes the time to give you advice, even if you already know 99% of it, listen politely. That 1% revelation could change your career.
- Whoever drives The Live Truck gets to pick the radio station. This is the law.
- Think what it is like to be the other, the person not like you. And suddenly your story is better.
- Don’t like the look of your live shots? Write faster. There will then be time for proper lighting!
- Share the glory with the news director who made your story possible. Assignment desk. Photographer. The tech who brought in your live shot signal.
- Be kind to interns, and help them whenever you can. You know, pay it forward.
- Don’t gossip in the newsroom, unless it involves ownership change.
- Make mediocre and dull stories the best they can be. This is how you get better. Pretty simple.
- And when you are lucky enough to have a hard-working TV news photojournalist as your partner, for God’s sake carry the tripod. And buy lunch every now and then!
- Got 90 seconds for your story? Come in at 1:20. Your producer will love you, and payback time is when you have a really great story and you need more time.
- Anybody with the last name “Kardashian” is not news. Ever.
- There is nothing “real” in reality TV.
- You are Real News. That said, we must daily rebuild the trust of the people.
- The mayor is fair game. His wife and especially children are (almost always) NOT.
- You will make friends in the darndest places: news subjects, folks at other stations and police.
- Ladies (and gents), do not marry the local cop. Listen to me! They say hello to you at a three-car wreck at 4 a.m. They ask you out to breakfast (Denny’s). You fall for them. Boom! You are now stuck forever in that starter market. Establish EARLY that you are moving two years into your three-year contract. Do this before you finish your pancakes. Or sooner.
- Always remember: journalism, and journalists, matter. It is the First Amendment for a reason. Dictators that take over a country shut us down first.
- There has never been a famine in a country with a free press, because journalists will find out where the food is.
- Never forget how many journalist have been killed, captured, or tortured for simply telling
truths. Respect their memory.
- From my teaching partner Bob Dotson: Find hope. Report hope.
Les Rose spent 38 years in broadcast journalism, including 22 years with CBS National News Network as a photojournalist and field producer. He spent seven years working with CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman on the series “Everybody Has a Story.” He is a professor of practice at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Broadcast and Digital Journalism Department, at Syracuse University. On Thursday, he’ll lead Storytelling with Les Rose: Tips, Tricks and True Tales. Click the link for enrollment information.