23 January 2008

The Highlight Of My Career So Far

Two weeks ago, I was assigned to produce five hours of coverage for the Nevada caucus. To give you some perspective, most producers produce 30 - 60 minutes of news during a nine hour shift. I still produced my show for all but two of the days leading up to the caucus and used all of my other time to think about the show. My results (in my humblest of opinions) were fantastic.

I wish I could convey the whole process to you right here, so it would be forever remembered. But the truth of the matter is that few people can really appreciate everything that went into the caucus coverage. Once it was handed to me, I probably spent half a day finding the people I would need during the coverage, and discussing their assignments and expectations. Kate was crowned second in command for all things caucus. I ran all of my ideas by her and I really think that was a key to the show's success.

As producers, we're each challenged to take the same stories and tell them in creative (read: different) ways. We take pride in that and often go into the deep recesses of our minds to find different ways to do things. We rarely give opinions on each other's work and we're rarely asked. Having two minds working in the same way on the same show helped make sure nothing (or at least very little) slipped through the cracks.

So I wasn't alone. I had Kate. And Kate and I weren't alone either. It felt like every person commissioned to be a part of this production brought high energy and good suggestions. It was like -- along the road to the caucus -- Kate & I picked up an army of hard workers, dedicated to putting on the best show possible. And in the end, it really wasn't as daunting as I expected.

A big difference between an everyday newscast and the caucus coverage is scripting. Most of the caucus coverage was not scripted. Once the show started, I just had to decide to which crew we were going and alert the right people. The majority of the stress came from the preparation.

We had no frame of reference. Everything we knew about caucuses was in theory only. Kate and I had never been a part of one and I never asked anybody else if they had. Based on the definition and the explanations, it sounded quite boring. We didn't know what there would be to show and we spent hours -- several hours -- preparing information that could be used to fill time. In the end, we had it all wrong.

The caucus was extremely active and vocal. I spend so much time thinking all politicians are the same, that I was genuinely surprised when people yelled in support of their chosen candidates. It truly was great to watch. It was another one of those infrequent times when I am positively impressed with the caliber of people in this town. Even Las Vegans chipped in to make the show a success.

Of course I have plenty of suggestions if I should ever get this opportunity again. There were plenty of things I saw that could have been better. But I was handed a huge task which was to be completed in a small amount of time and I did well. Not many people can say that, and I am proud that I can.