Visiting Professor - Day 7 - Rest
And on the seventh day…
I tried to rest. It’s hard to for me to relax.
This has been a great week. I’ve enjoyed being inside a television station again. Everyone has been so nice and I feel welcomed.
As I sat on the beautiful beach of the John D. MacArthur Beach State Park, I was thinking about this week and what significance will it have on my teaching at Georgia Southern. It’s a strange thing to be thinking about while waves crash and your feet are cooled by waves. It is hard to relax. That’s what I was thinking. It is hard to relax.
Where does the fear to relax come from? It comes from old and new places.
Half this week focused on television sales and how it has grown into different platforms. The sales methods are mostly foreign to me but they are fascinating. Some things at WPTV-TV are no different than any other place I’ve worked and other things feel light years different. I must keep up with world or like a petrified rock, I am useless.
The fear of not staying relevant is frightening. I’ve been out of the non-academic world for four years and I try to keep up with the changes. I watch my former colleagues from Facebook posts and see what they are doing. However, like an athlete if you don’t practice the craft on a regular basis you get soft. And like an athlete, I’m competitive enough to keep in the game. Reason one I can’t relax.
The last two blog posts focused on students getting jobs. The discussions about training students with all of my hosts were comforting. We are on the same page. They care as much about students being trained as I do. There is a lot of turnover at television stations if the new employee isn’t aware of the challenges of working or how the system is set up. There is an expectation that journalism employees start at small markets and move up. There is an expectation that sales employees start as assistants and move up in position. Bottom line, many newly graduated students are unaware of the challenges ahead of them.
Okay, so that’s on them? Relax….
I can’t relax. Because it doesn’t feel like it is “on them”. It feels like it is on me. I think back to when I started working and how the first five years changed my life. More than my life, it changed my wife’s life as well. I worked nights and weekends at my first job. It was hard on a new marriage. So then, I took another job with better pay but this time the job was at a bureau and I was on call 24/7. If you’ve never worked 24/7, here’s what it feels like: you go out to see a movie with your wife and during the film, you get paged (that’s old school for texted). You both have to leave (no Uber or taxi). You’ve missed a film, she’s missed a film and the weekend is ruined. But, off you go to cover some story that ends up being a vo/sot and forgotten by tomorrow’s noon show. Or if the story is big enough, you are up all night waiting for the next live hit. My Fitbit makes the same sound of a pager when it sits on a table. There is a sense of dread when the Fitbit reminds me to get up and move. Journalism is a tough game and the job leaves scars.
Relax…those days are over.
Nah, not at all. Today’s journalists can’t go anywhere unattached. I could always say, my pager was in the car or the battery died. Oops. Those little tricks didn’t happen often because the guilt would keep you awake, the hunger to beat the competition would find you behind the wheel driving as fast as you legally could to get what the other guy wouldn’t get. You wanted to beat the other guys and brag to your boss. We got it, they didn’t.
Today’s reporters live in a 24/7 world regardless if they are on call. Each reporter is living with their electronic umbilical cord and can’t make up an excuse for not knowing something is happening. They can’t relax. They could but they won’t succeed in this business because someone else is beating them to a story.
This is what they signed up for…
And it gets in your blood. As professors, we need to be as enthusiastic and driven as the fiery newsroom leaders who crave competition and want every story. It is hard at times to not treat our students like co-workers as we scramble to put a newscast on the air. I would say it is better to give students an environment that mirrors the real world than a sterile incubator to craft their skills. News isn’t neat and tidy, it’s flaying head long into a battle against time!
The waves lap up against my feet to remind me that time always wins. Time is the true enemy. In the past year, I’ve lost my father and my two dogs. I need to slow it down and appreciate what lies ahead. These moments of solitude and empty thoughts are few and far between.