Friday, January 30, 2009

When I give tours of the assignment desk I describe the desk and my position as the central nervous system of the station, or compare it all to that of a teacher in a classroom. Everything in the newsroom has to come through the desk or there will later be mass chaos.

There can be way too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to figuring every part of the newscast that include the stories, reporters, photographers, edits, live trucks, locations, etc. When left to one or two seasoned chefs, a newscast can be a five-course meal that fills you up and leaves you wanting to come back. When too many cooks get involved, you're left with an explosion of marinara sauce all over the ceiling and burnt pasta.

I live in reality and producers usually live in producer dream land. I'm often called Dream Killer when I force the producers back into reality and tell them they can't have it all. For example, there's simply no way to have four reporters live in four different location when you only have three photographers available.

I am the front line of defense when it comes to getting the news on the air. I listen to 13 emergency scanners, check all email that comes to the newsroom, answer the phones, make calls to set up interviews, check on possible stories, confirm facts, assign photographers and reporters to cover the stories, etc. I'm also the first to be yelled at and blamed when something goes wrong. I'm not the first to be congratulated or recognized when something goes right.

Then there are the viewers and callers who add a whole other element to my job. I know the station is doing its job when in the same day I'm yelled at for being right-winged and liberal!

I've cried and prayed with people who reach out hoping for someone to help them. There were lots of prayers after 9/11 and lots of tears with a woman who called after her 2-yr old baby girl died of the flu.

I've been called the nastiest of names, the worse being called c*** three times by the same viewer the three times he called because he was upset that programming moved the triple overtime Golf Masters to a little box on the TV to put a Broncos pregame in the big box on the screen. WARNING: you cuss at me and I will hang up on you! Treat me nice as I've never done anything to hurt you. :)

I've listened to people tell me their conspiracy theories, of how they created the earth as god, and have a special place in my heart for a few annoying, but lovable, viewers who seem to have only me to call on a regular basis.

That's really just a small glimpse into my my life as an assignment editor. For a more complete definition and explanation of an Assignment Editor and Desk, check out the links below.