Back when FTVLive was a subscription site we posted the 5 things every News Director should do. It was a very popular post then and it is worth running it again for everyone to read:
Things News Director Should Do (and most likely doesn't)
FTVLive turns it's attention to TV News Directors and the job they do.
More often than not a TV News Director starts out in TV News at a lower level and gets promoted through the ranks before they are named the new ND.
There is no Management School on how to be a News Director and most ND's adapt their Management style from past News Directors that they themselves worked for.
If you're News Director is a yeller and screamer it is more than likely they worked for the same kind of ND in past.
FTVLive was a News Director in our past TV life and we made more than our share of mistakes. Now, we get to sit on the outside and see ND's all over the country making the same mistakes and even inventing a few of their own.
So we decided to turn Today's FTVLive into a list of things that all News Directors should do and most likely don't.
So, lets get on with it....
Admit when you make a Bad Hire and Fix It
No one is perfect and that includes News Directors.
There is nothing worse for morale in a newsroom than working with a co-worker that is close to incompetent or is just a huge pain in the ass to work with.
A News Director will hire someone they think is good for the job. They knocked it out of the park in the interview and seem to really know what they're doing.
Then the person starts working at the station and their awful.
Sometimes it's just because they're new and not used to doing it your station's way. They figure it out and then they're fine.
But, sometimes you can see that they aren't going to change and they aren't going to "get it."
People trickle into the News Director's office and tell them that so in so is not getting it and is next to impossible to work with.
Most News Directors see it as well, but they don't want to admit they made a bad hire. No matter how bad it gets, they continue to back their new hire and in the end the rest of the newsroom is pissed.
Every News Director makes a bad hire from time to time. If you can rectify the situation during the new employees probationary period and get rid of them you will be saving yourself and the rest of the newsroom some big headaches.
If you admit to your staff that you made a mistake, I can promise you that their respect of you will go up and not down.
Make and Appearance on Weekends and Mornings
Hey you get to the level of News Director and it means you don't have to work the overnight shift or weekends anymore.
Of course your phone will ring a lot more during those times, but I'm guessing that's the trade off for having a M-F job in TV News.
Still, it would be nice at least once a month you get up long before the sun and come into the station. Show the staff that you're more than just a memo in the computer. Come in and see how their doing?
Sit in the booth during the morning show and you might see some things you can do to make the show better.
Do the same on a Weekends from time to time. You presence in the newsroom during off hours will do a lot for your street cred in the newsroom.
And when you do come in the newsroom during off hours don't just sit in your office on the computer. In fact don't go in your office at all....sit in the newsroom and help out on the show. Write a few stories, approve a few scripts.
I can promise you, these trips to the newsroom will go a long way with your staff.
Allow Mental Health Day for your Staff
As great as TV News is, from time to time everyone gets "sick of it".
It's not uncommon for TV Newsies to call in sick to work, when they're really not sick. Problem is they call in the morning of and now everyone is scrambling to fill that person's job for the day.
But, if the News Director allowed "Mental Health" days this would not be as big of a problem.
Say the 5:00 Producer has just had an awful week. Stories have fallen through 3 days in a row, the shows haven't been clean and they are just fried.
They need a day off but they don't want to burn a vacation day. If they came to you on Wednesday night and said they were taking a mental health day on Friday, you would have two days to cover the shift.
It's much better than the Producer calling in Sick Friday morning. You then are in scramble mode to cover the shift.
With the Mental Health day the Producer gets some time off and isn't scared about being spotted shopping at the mall while they are supposedly "sick."
Also you could work with the Producer on the day they take off. Say Friday you're already short staffed. You could ask the Producer in they can move the Mental Health day to Monday instead?
You will find that adding mental health days to your newsroom and surprise sick days will drop dramatically.
Sure, Metal Health days are not part of company policy, so this might be something you have to arrange with the staff without the GM or HR department being in on it.
The staff is going to take sick days, this way you know when many of them are coming.
So, in the end it will make your days a lot better for your mental health.
Say Thank You
It's a good bet that Applebee's, Friday's, Outback Steakhouse or some other restaurant advertises on your station.
Go to the sales department (make sure you wear a bullet proof vest) and see if you can get a stack of gift cards for some of these restaurants.
When someone on you staff goes above and beyond in their job, send them a hand written thank you note with a gift card inside.
This is a huge morale boost.
And don't forget that one person that does their job everyday but barely makes a peep in the newsroom.
If you can't score up the gift cards the "Thank You" notes will still go a long way with your staff.
Trust me....this will be one of the best things you can do in your newsroom.
Be Open and Honest
It seems simple, but for some reason it is almost impossible for most ND's to be this way with the staff.
Don't have so many closed door meetings in the newsroom. Every person outside the closed door will be sure you are talking about them.
If you moving someone from one shift to another, tell them why.
If you're told to cut back on the budget, share that information with the newsroom. Don't just start cutting back overtime and not saying anything. Tell the staff that we need to save some money and we will try and do it without impacting your lives too much.
If layoffs loom, don't let the rumors fly around the newsroom. Tell them there is a possibility that you may have to layoff some people.
When you do the layoffs, do it fast and tell the staff when it's done. Tell them you had to cut 5 jobs and it is never something you want to do, but the layoffs are over and we need everyone to get back to work.
You will find that being honest with your staff is the best way to be.
We Promise you that if you do these 5 things as a News Director you staff will work harder and you will gain respect. In the end you will have a better newsroom and put a better product on the air.
Now enjoy the Weekend and maybe think about dropping in and seeing the staff for a few hours this Weekend.
Might as well start these 5 things now instead of waiting....