Behind the Camera

I worked in the News department this past week and the week has been nothing short of busy and controversial. The second Democratic debate, as well as the Gilroy shooting took place, amongst many, many more confusing, important, and inconceivable news stories. Our job at NBC is to report upon the informative, entertaining, and outright traumatic worldly occurrences. So, I’ve had the availability to experience the weight of a news reporters’ responsibility: to relay information correctly and quickly. But, regardless of the manner with which you do so, you as the reporter or as the company, are associated with how the information is perceived by the audience. The job of a reporter and the jobs of the ‘behind the scenes’ associates are sensitive. There is no room for error; you are simply allowed to do no wrong, but then again, you can do no right in the eyes of your audience. You are consistently criticized and ridiculed despite your efforts towards authentic, honest work (and I say this completely aware that not all news anchors/hosts report candidly; this is one reflection of one week).

I have taken the opportunity to truly reflect upon the organizational culture, as it pertains to NBC during such a sensitive week (well, sensitive in my eyes…NBC deals with this on an hourly basis). But to me, this week was horrific. The events that occurred were traumatic and emulate so much of what makes up the society we live in today: heavy, controversial politics, sensitive conversation, shootings. Obviously, the job of a broadcast corporation is to create a credited platform so that they receive the news as quickly as possible. Then, it is the job of the corporation to check credentials and combine all sources of information to compile a most accurate recount.

I assume that the ways in which people communicate and interact in my office are different than at most company’s. Half the time, there is so much being translated and yelled that I’m not sure how much is actually registering with each employee. So much is being translated so quickly that I don’t think anyone is processing what information they got from who. This might not seem like the best description of an organization that is supposed to be relaying most accurate information to the public. But what I have come to realize is that while the office is chaotic, it is only chaotic because each and every individual is driven by the same motive: to efficiently release information to the people. Understanding that obviously there’s a level of competition with other news companies (to get information out the fastest), NBC wouldn’t be so successful if there weren’t that underlying motive to do good, to inform, and to help. We run through these motives every day and I have come to find out that this is a definitive description for the organizational culture at NBC.

Being in the news industry, NBC’s leadership and organizational style is largely determined by the nature of the industry. The chaotic and abrasive nature of news governs the strict and sometimes harsh qualities of managers. But I think that is important for a news organization. This rigid structure must be in place when the actions of a news corporation have such an impact on the well-being of society. There is too much risk for a rigid structure to not be in place. I believe this past week was a great opportunity for me to begin to understand the reality of work in a news environment. Whether or not I belong in such an environment is to be determined, but I certainly understand both how people communicate and how leadership operates under such high pressure.