It’s that time of year again: people everywhere are packing their bags and heading home for some much-needed holiday vacation time. Except, in many cases, for journalists. Across the country, producers, photographers, anchors and reporters are staying put, assigned to odd shifts because the news never stops. If you’re stuck with holiday duty this year, TVSpy has got you covered — we’ve compiled a survival guide with tips from people who have felt your pain. Read on for their suggestions.
Come Up With Creative Pitches
“I try to get a story in the can before the holidays, so I’ve got something to offer the assignment desk that’s better than volunteers feeding the homeless or Santa giving toys to needy children,” WGNO host Susan Roesgen says. “We’ve all done those, too many times!”
“Fight the urge to re-rack last year’s last-minute shopping story,” KBAK news director Cristi Jessee agrees. “The viewers might not notice, but management is watching. (Probably.)”
Enjoy the Free Food
“I have packed and eaten too many cold sandwiches only to hear the stationwide page minutes later indicating the caterer had arrived with the hot meal,” WFOR meteorologist Craig Setzer says. “Besides, everyone else brings baked sweets and junk, and that’s more fun to eat anyway.”
Jessee says a key element of any good holiday shift is a fully-stocked newsroom. “If we worked in the ‘Mad Men’ days, I would say keep the liquor cabinet fully stocked as well, but I digress,” she says.
“Make sure the microwave is in good working order for the cold turkey that will be sure to be making its way to the newsroom from the local restaurant that still does trade,” WCSC chief meteorologist Bill Walsh jokes. “And make sure the key to the sales wet bar is in an easy-to-find location.”
“There’s a certain newsroom camaraderie, especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas, that’s kind of nice,” Roesgen says. “Some of my closest friends over the years have been co-workers who shared the worst shifts with me, and yet we made the best of it and had a good time.”
WGRZ anchor Jodi Johnston recalls one year she was called in to work on Christmas Eve, and since she hadn’t wrapped any of her gifts yet, she threw them into shopping bags and brought them with her. “Right after the show, my producer and I ran to a 24-hour pharmacy, bought paper and tape, and got to work,” Johnston says. “Right there in the middle of the newsroom — my producer and I got down on the floor and wrapped all our gifts. It wasn’t pretty, but we got the job done!”
“Don’t forget, while it seems no one is watching you because everyone is enjoying time with their friends and family, someone is watching,” Setzer says. “And they appreciate you doing your job, even on a holiday. So give ‘em your best.”
“You may be working on Christmas,” WJAR producer Adam Bagni says, “but your friends go back Monday to spreadsheets, sales figures, and everything else that goes with a stale workplace.”
Don’t Forget About Your Family
Jessee suggests making arrangements to celebrate with your family another day. “Hey, you are a news person,” she says. “Your family knows by now that everything revolves around you and your unfair schedule!”
KHSL-KNVN anchor Kira Klapper says it takes friends and family a few years to understand the all-consuming nature of the news business. “You don’t or can’t go ‘home for the holidays’ like everyone else,” she says. “But if they truly love you, they will realize you love this crazy business more.”