good friend of mine struggles to figure out her computer and phone. In her world, files disappear and mysteriously move never to be seen again. When she explains her latest frustration, people are curious: Why does she have these problems when some of us facing the same thing bungle along and figure out a solution?
Maybe my friend needs to take a course in Improv. You know, the kind of course offered by the local college theater department. Paul Singer has a great column in USA Today about how journalists need to become better at improvisation.
I’ll take Singer’s point one step further: it’s not just journalism students who must learn to “make it up as you go,” but the rest of the profession too. If you’re not experimenting, pushing the limits and trying something new and failing, you’re simply not trying. And if there was ever a time in the local news business to try something new, this is it. If we keep trying the same old tired paths, we’re going to discover consumers have already hacked their way through the jungle to find their own paths.
A news director shared with me his station’s caucus coverage plan. The three page memo (which included pizza being served in the break room – some things never change) began with “Here’s what we’re doing on Facebook Live tonight.” This was before any mention of on-air coverage. It also included a reminder for crews to carry microphones for iPhones and to feed in video clips for Facebook and Twitter.
So how are your improv skills? It’s time for all of us to make it up as we go.