Dogbert has done it again

Operators of television news operations are real innovators, constantly seeking new methods to take the working environment to a new level of hellishness. The latest Dogbertian development, news at 4:30 in the freakin’ morning – and in some markets, 4:00 am! Wow. Dogbert

Think the HUT levels are strong at 0400? Not at all. What this proves though is that once you have a news department, the costs associated with spinning the hamster wheel faster are very small. News people are like airplanes in this commoditized new world: If they’re not flying, they’re losing money. If anchor people aren’t reading scripts on four different channels every half hour, and if reporters aren’t filing new stories every couple of hours for the web and a newscast, and if producers aren’t stacking new shows as fast as they can, and if assignment editors aren’t sending crews to “swing by” locations 86 miles out of their way – something is wrong.

It’s only going to get worse. The big brands are going to start “wheeling” their newscasts 24/7 across one or more of their platforms and rely heavily on one-man-band citizen journalists and staffers to feed the beast. If you can’t run a 24/7 news operation, your days are limited. Tuning in at whatever pm for a half hour wrap up of the day’s events continues to look like an increasingly dead idea – if for no other reason than the “cost per minute” of production can be driven down to something that appears to be more efficient.

Working as a newsy can be a tremendous amount of fun, but I can’t think of anything more awful than standing in the dark, in the rain, in the dead of a Seattle winter doing a just standing there live shot for a before the crack-of-dawn newscast talking about a long-past or still-coming event … day-in, day-out. And this is coming from somebody who has done literally thousands of hellish live shots from mountain passes and long dead scenes at 11pm with 30 minutes back to the station and another hour back home in front of them.

Ah, the glamorous world of TV news.