Recently I was struck by conversations I was having with a series of news directors who are looking for morning EPs. Each mentioned, the line “the morning show sets the tone for the day.” No, this isn’t a new concept. Morning producers all over the country are yelling “DUH” to their computer screens right now. But there is a key part to this, that simply doesn’t happen in most newsrooms. Each news shift needs to have a system of checks and balances with all the other shifts. When they do, you return the favor by watching theirs. In Meet My Conscience we talked about having a specific set of eyes to help watch your back. Well, simply put, this needs to happen in all newsrooms at shift change. It also needs to be more than the assignment desks’ role. Producers know to sit down with the producer who just wrapped up a newscast and ask if there is anything to worry about. But the conversation needs to go further.
What if every shift, had a check-in with the morning staff? The reason: Often the late night newscasts do very targeted coverage to appeal to very specific audiences. This is much more extreme than other day parts, especially certain nights of the week with huge lead-ins. In essence, the key audience changes dramatically. So morning producers come in, and see that most of the stories do not transcend well. BUT there could be (and often is) a wealth of wonderful potential follow-ups from the early evening news. Problem is, the morning producer doesn’t know that a court hearing is scheduled tomorrow, or that the video in the package is all you have, because the rest is blue. What if dayside crews updated overnight counterparts, in addition to nightside?
Chances are you would prevent a lot more inaccuracies if this dialogue is developed. Think of the children’s game telephone. Morning tells dayside about a story, who then tells nightside, who then updates morning (if nightside covered it at all). Odds are, by the next morning, you’re missing a lot of potential angles that legitimately advance an interesting story. If dayside, let nightside and morning know, then the options that nightside passed on do not get buried in an early grave as easily.
So how do you develop it? Email. After all, daysiders are already working when most nightsiders are asleep. Or if a nightsider is up for the earlies, call and get the scoop before the producer leaves. Employees themselves can take control and set up a system of communication between the assignment desk and producers. Then you will have a good chance of getting all the facts straight. It’s a shift in accuracy, that could have a lot of people’s backs.