Two weeks ago when I was obsessing about pressing ‘send’ on my first blog entry for the Cozy Cat Chronicles my daughter comforted me with the words: ‘Just remember — done is better than Perfect!’
Like John Stewart, I said: ‘Whaaaaaaat?’
‘Done is better than perfect’ is a mantra of TV journalism. I know that when 5:00 rolls around I expect to see my favorite anchorperson tell me about the day. Even on days when nothing much happens I like to check in.
But I never gave a thought about what goes into producing that daily program until a TV photojournalist became our son-in-law. Each morning when he arrives at the station he is given tentative daily assignments. He might be scheduled to accompany a reporter to a court case or a grand opening. However, on a moment’s notice he can be assigned to photograph a car accident or a homicide. He can be sitting in air-conditioned comfort one minute and dawning full fire-fighting gear the next. Later that same day he could be wearing a parka and standing inside a freezer for a story on a shortage in a food bank.
Electronic equipment, fire fighting gear and cold weather protection are not the only supplies he carries in his news car. He needs wading boots to wear when photographing a flood or a house fire and carries a dog leash to restrain a dog or horse terrorized by a trauma.
It is a rare day when the actual broadcast resembles that morning’s plan. Arrests, stand offs, fires, traffic problems, broken water mains and unexpected weather events occur with no regard to the news producer’s schedule.
When a story breaks at shortly before news time, the carefully prepared and edited clips are pushed aside. Occasionally they can be aired on a different day but most will have become old news. Some of the station’s best work falls onto the proverbial cutting room floor.
So as I press ‘send’ on this blog post, the phrase: “Done is better than perfect” is a great comfort.