Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Twelve Year Old on a Bicycle

In my first year of college I took a class called "Introduction to Mass Media". It was the first class for people who were going to major in Journalism. For me it was a social science elective and one I thought would be interesting. It turned out to be an excellent class.

It offered an overview of book and magazines, TV, radio and newspapers. It covered production, as well as reporting and outlined journalistic standards and methods. Since the class was aimed at Journalism majors a great deal of time was spent on ethics and proper techniques and verification of facts.

There was also a lot on actual production. The class took an approach that if you were going to work for a newspaper you had to know the technical details of how a paper was put together and got to press. This way you understood deadlines and limitations around the production side of the business and how that shaped what you could write.

One of the quotes I remember from the professor was about TV News; "It's not news if you don't have video." His point was that in TV, no matter what the story, if you didn't have a picture to go with it, it wasn't going to get on the air.

When we got to the section on newspapers he had another rant I remember. It went something like this:

"The newspaper industry is one of the most amazing in the country. Papers are staffed by well educated skilled professionals with years of writing and editing experience. The sales departments have some of the brightest minds in advertising and marketing. Production is done on state of the art high tech equipment costing millions of dollars and run by skilled craftsman who usually have decades of experience. Then the entire product is delivered by a twelve year old on a bicycle."

I always remember that quote during shipping season. We do everything we can to insure that shipping goes well, but it always comes down to a delivery guy in a truck. Our latest drama was a simple keying error. The guy at the UPS office added an 'N' for North on an address that should not have had it. The driver, like a corpulent twelve year old, decided he was not going to deliver the box to 59 Main Street, because the address said 59 N Main Street. Even though there was no N Main Street. 'Undeliverable'.

Frustrating, time consuming and expensive. UPS charged us $11 to take the N off the package, even though they had put the N on the package. Makes me wish we had a twelve year old and a bike.

No comments: