Pros and cons of the morning shift

February 28, 2017 01:30

By Nikki Burdine, RTDNA Contributor
Last week, we talked about getting yourself accustomed to working the morning shift, establishing a healthy schedule and getting some good sleep. Now that you're at work, you need to get through the day and get a good story. There are positives and negatives to this shift. It's just about working with what you've got. 
Positive: Early bird gets the story. Whatever happens before dayside shift comes in is yours. You don't have to fight for it!
Negative: Aside from breaking news, the good, meaty stories are usually later in the day.
How to make it work: Set stories up in advance. My station has started doing something genius: We have three morning reporters. Two are live every day, while the other comes in a little bit later and dedicates his or her day to setting up stories, shooting and editing them. The next day, you're live with that story in the morning show. Of course smaller markets won't have the luxury of taking one reporter off the air for a day, but maybe there is one day a week you can take that extra hour in the day and set something up for the future. Or maybe while you're out at the police station doing a live shot, you grab the chief/PIO/etc for some sound on a hold-for-release story about something else entirely. It won't be easy every day, but every now and then you can squeeze something else out of your day and it will pay off. I know setting up stories for the morning show is difficult (Hi, can you meet me at 4:30am for a live interview?), so try for after the morning show. Meet someone right after your live shots before they head into work or meet them at the office. 
Positive: Your weekend starts at noon on Friday! I loved getting off work on a Friday for a quick nap, then by the time my other friends were done with work, I was rested and ready to go. 
Negative: Your weekend ends Sunday afternoon, aka - no Sunday Fundays. Yeah, I know how awesome those days are, but you know what's not awesome? Starting your week off exhausted with a headache.

How to make it work: Do yourself a favor and skip the day party, or at least end it by afternoon.
Positive: Live shot experience! This one is great for newer reporters or those without a ton of live experience. Every morning show is different, but most of the time you'll do 5-10 (or more) live shots a morning. Trust me, you'll be a pro at thinking on your toes (or filling airtime when you have nothing). 
Negative: Lack of storytelling. This was one of my biggest struggles with the morning show. I missed doing great packages and getting more than just MOS's for my piece. Unfortunately, unlike your dayside colleagues, you only get a couple of hours to set up, interview, shoot, write and edit your pieces.

How to make it work: The good part about this is you'll become a speed package writer! But if you're like me, you'll miss that storytelling aspect. My advice: Go to your news director and talk to him/her about this. The solution my station came up with initially was after the show, barring breaking news, we could go out and shoot a real story. Sometimes  we would stay and turn it for the later shows, sometimes we would hold it. Then we transitioned into the aforementioned 'hold days.' It can get frustrating just doing 'filler' packages, but keep fighting for those stories you care about, your news director will hopefully see your passion and help you fulfill that need. 
Positive: Managers aren't around to lurk. (Uggs and sweatshirts in the newsroom? No shame.)
Negative: Managers aren't there to see your face. You need that face time with the higher-ups every now and then.

How to make it work: Make a point to stick your head in their door before you leave for the day, ask for advice on that morning's live shot, etc. Make yourself known - the worst thing for a morning reporter is to be forgotten. 
And one final positive: Morning show audiences are loyal, they love their morning teams and they will stick with you. You're part of their everyday routine, and that's a big deal.

How to make it work: Embrace that socially. I've found my 'regulars' who are almost always there in the mornings to tweet, Facebook or engage with me. I almost always respond to them, and that helped grow my followers! Also - ask whoever runs your station's social media accounts to share and retweet your posts in the mornings. In between live shots, go live on Facebook. People are fascinated by what we do when we are not on-air. Be transparent and show them! 
Are you a morning show newsie? How do you make it through the day? Let us know in the comments below.

Nikki Burdine is a reporter at WUSA-TV in Washington, D.C.


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