Monday, September 04, 2006

Communication? What's that?

You'd think by now we'd have this whole communication thing down pat.

After all, we do get paid for it.

Journalists - reporters, producers, photographers, videographers, et. al - our entire job is to talk to people, tell stories, convey information to the public. Yet, everyday, I'm amazed at the lack of communication that occurs within the four walls of my office, let alone the close-lipped nature of the rest of the company.

The other day, I got up early to go to a kindergarten orientation in my school district. Friday marked the first day of full-day kindergarten and I was doing a story about it. I put in a photo request Wednesday, asking for a photog to come document the orientation with me.

When I left that evening, I checked the assignment timetable. There, next to my request, was a photographer's name. I printed out a copy and went about my day, confident everything would be fine.

At 9 a.m. Thursday, I'd introduced myself to the class as a reporter and told them a photographer might want to take their pictures as they walked through the orientation. I chatted with parents, observed the kids and checked my watch.

By 9:30 a.m., I was beginning to feel like Boo-Boo the Fool.

As we shuffled to the lunchroom, the teacher came up beside me and whispered, "Do you think the photographer will be here? I don't want to let the parents go before he gets here."


"No, Mrs. Tourangeau, don't keep them if you don't need to," I said, sheepishly. "I don't know when he'll be here. I put in the request, but we come in seperate cars. I just hope he'll get here before it's over."

At 9:50 a.m., I officially gave up hope.

I got permission to come to the afternoon orientation, just in case we could get another photographer to make the noon session, and headed back to the office.

Irked wasn't the word.

I ran through the sequence of events, trying to figure out where I'd messed up with the photo request. Correct time and date? Yup. Directions to the school? Indeed. Listed the right school location? Righto. Given a detailed description of the story. Check.

So what happened?

That's what I asked the assignment editor when I got into the office. Sometimes the photogs don't check the updated lists if assignments come in late, he said. Apparently, the photog had complained earlier that he didn't know about this morn's assignment.

I put the request in at 3 p.m.

So, what you're telling me is basically assignments mean nothing because on any given day, the photog may not know about it or just won't show up - even though it's been assigned? There's got to be a better way.

Word of the photo snafu had made its way up to my office and when I got there, my boss was listening to a passionate message from the photog about how he wasn't informed about the assignment. Why, he asked, hadn't someone called him?

I prepped myself for the verbal jousting I'd have to go through once the photog made it into the office. I'm sure somehow, this will turn out to be my fault. But I think the real problem lies not with the reporter or photog, but with the system.

As reporters, we're asked to put in assignments for all stories that warrant them. The assignment editor then takes the form and assigns a photog, based on his or her availability. Problem is, assignments aren't always relayed to the photographers. Until we can figure out a way to either instill a deadline for all photo assignments or a notification system for late assignments, we'll continue to have problems like the one I had today.

And that makes no one happy.

Maybe I should communicate about my thoughts on the photo process to someone. But, somehow, I doubt they'd get the memo.

Posted by T Dot at 11:25 AM | link

Read or Post a Comment

Oh the old blame game.

We have similar experiences in our schools Comm department. How can the Comm department faculty not communicate with one another? How come students have to beg to actually make campus media a productive use of time, space, and resources?

Well for me I'mma keep one man bandin' it.

But I do wonder when people will realize an aversion to actively communicating hurts more than it helps!

Send the memo atleast you'd put it out there, and if you had the problem def not the only one or last one!

Posted by Anonymous CNEL @ 12:13 AM, September 04, 2006 #

oh HELL no. come on! really? so now you have to track down photogs? they are such surly people anyway and that's not your job. you put in the request, it was fulfilled. how is it not in the job req to ck assignments in the am or at least at the end of the day? ridiculous.

Posted by Blogger jameil1922 @ 7:53 PM, September 05, 2006 #
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