This post is mostly directed to the thirty-odd students who are blessed/cursed to have me as a TA/mentor/Radio 1 Mom… However, it has some valuable life lessons for everyone starting a new journey, or struggling to learn new concepts. It also has an anecdote that many people will laugh/cry at.
I can still say the exact day my first shift at WUFT was as a radio reporter. May 25th, memorial day. This happened 5 days after my first shift as an associate producer… I did pretty much nothing that day except watch that day. It was also approximately 10 months after my first time working in the Innovation News Center as a social media manager.
I was confident that I was going to do very well, and impress everyone I worked with. I had spent about five months preparing for this day by writing sound stories, live-tweeting, chasing after difficult topics, and getting to know some of the people I was going to start working with. Everyone assured me that I was going to crush it.
I walked in at 9 AM, and immediately got sent out on a story. I’m linking our web coverage of the event here for many reasons:
1) Ariana Figueroa is an incredible reporter. She’s doing excellent work at The Alligator as one of their current managing editors, and will do great things in the future.
2) As background for the event, which I’d prefer not to delve into too much. The basics are here: it was hot, I was wearing a sweater and tights, I spent 20 minutes talking to a little girl whose brother died during a training accident in the military, and came back with a terrible sunburn (which is pictured here…)
As I came back into the newsroom, I was asked to create a sound story… Easy, right?
I had nothing newsworthy. That 20-minute long interview with the little girl… unintelligible. I had a few quick interviews with some kids who said one-word answers. I was MORTIFIED.
And the older student in the newsroom wasn’t happy with me either. I got torn to shreds, and left my shift an hour later with one measly sound story that I wasn’t willing to even listen to.
I went home trying not to cry, and got roped into attending a barbeque I didn’t want to attend. Everyone there asked me how my day was. I gave one-word answers: “good.” “fine.” “ok.” After the barbeque, I went home, covered myself in aloe, and cried while listening to sad music. It was pathetic, to say the least.
The next day I decided to move forward. I set up interviews for my next story. I researched how to find better pitches. I casually practiced my radio voice in the shower in case I was asked to record a wrap. I made sure not to look like a fool again. I improved after that.
One of the news managers who supervises my students (and me), has created what some might call a wall of shame… He’s taped up their first scripts, writing in red where errors are made. The names of the students have been removed, but it still stings. I saw him creating this display, and I winced and began to criticize it. I knew how upset I would have been knowing that my work was up. It’s a necessary evil though. It’s helped other students not make simple mistakes, and has fostered healthy competition.
My news director, Matt Sheehan, has a piece of art up in his office that says “Let’s make better mistakes tomorrow.” It’s become a motto within our newsroom. Before I had even seen the print, or had a conversation with Matt, I had heard of those five words. When I entered Matt’s office for this first time, I snuck a look at it. He most definitely caught me doing so, and smirked without saying a word.
What does that mean? It means we’re working in a newsroom powered by 20-somethings. We can fall on our faces, and it will be okay… eventually. We just have to move forward and learn from our mistakes. However, no one is perfect. We might continue to make different mistakes.
I’m guilty of making mistakes, too. I’ve witnessed glaring typos over the past few days in my emails. I realized I called one of my students the wrong name for about 2 hours and they never corrected me. (Side note on that: DON’T LET ME DO THAT GUYS. DO YOU KNOW HOW GUILTY I FEEL? PEOPLE WHO CALL PEOPLE THE WRONG NAMES ARE LITERALLY THE WORST KIND OF PEOPLE.) I scheduled a meeting at the same time as one of my classes, and had to awkwardly beg to my professor to have my absence excused. I am not perfect.
Let’s make better mistakes tomorrow. Let’s move forward.