fifty sheets of grey(scale)

You know, because I had to…

Anyway. Prefacing this post by saying that my opinions are not those of the station I work for, and I’m trying to use generalized terms here so I don’t inadvertently reveal any proprietary information, though I doubt I am.

Today was my first day of work, officially a training day since I’m not fully “in the system” yet, but I got the lowdown on my initial duties.

If there’s one thing that surprised me at the station, it’s how much paper is still used in this day and age. Five copies of a fifty-plus page script are printed out for each newscast and distributed between the anchors and a few people in production. I also distribute copies of the rundown, a skeletal outline of each broadcast, keeping one for myself at the teleprompter station.

I oversimplify when I say the prompter is nothing but a digital version of the script attached to a joystick, but that’s basically what it is. I keep the script rolling in time to the speed of whoever’s speaking on the show. It’s kind of fun and it guarantees that I know what’s going on in the news by the time my day is over!

I watched the prompting for the 4, 4.30 and 5pm shows, taking the controls myself three or four times during pre-taped segments, that way if I screwed up it wasn’t a live blooper. That didn’t happen, though. During Nightly News I collected new scripts and passed them around, and got to control the prompter once or twice during the 6pm show, then did -all- the prompting when we pre-taped the ‘teases,’ the commercials for the 10pm show.

Then came lunch, and the realization that the silly little peanut butter and cracker lunch box I had brought with me was not gonna be enough. I already had a headache, but had neither Tylenol nor money for the soda machine. I made a mental note to bring more food along with change, and had a silent prayer that the free cocoa I made myself had a negligible amount of caffeine in it. It didn’t.

Lunch spread into what amounted to a two hour break. I probably would have found something to do but I don’t have login credentials yet at the computers. I managed to locate a copy of the employee handbook and read that. Straightforward stuff.

Eventually it was a quarter to ten and the pre-show process began again. I sat and watched my supervisor run the prompter up til the first commercial break, then he had me take over at the start of the second segment. Went pretty smoothly, and in the blink of an eye… it was 10.35. I had prompted the remainder of the show all on my own! I was surprised. But I felt a great sense of accomplishment.

So, there. My first day in TV done. I work there again Sunday, and I may learn the cameras, though I am not certain of that yet. I may get more practice on the prompters. But I look forward to it either way!




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