The first time I recognized this was before I was ever a news director. It was when I held the position of Assignment Manager at WUSA-TV. During my second full year as a news manager in Washington, we hired a young assignment editor from up the road in Baltimore. The kid was a University of Maryland grad, like myself, and he carried around his own digital scanner all the time. Pretty impressive I have to say.
He was a little too anxious at first, sending crews on every car wreck and house fire he would hear dispatch. As time went on we talked about the stories that tend to be more relevant to a Washington, DC audience, and in no time he was carving out his own niche on the assignment desk and making a name for himself in the market.
Not long after I left D.C. for Charlottesville, he left WUSA and went to work for my best friend at a competing station in town. In the five-plus years he was there, he ran the night desk better than anyone in town. Today, he is an assignment editor at CNN and I couldn't be more proud of him.
There is such a great feeling in helping motivated individuals reach that next level. Just tonight I was speaking on the phone with one of my former sports directors. The guy is one of the most genuinely sincere people working in the news business today. Among other things, we discussed some possible approaches he could take toward a really cool story idea he is working on at his current station. He likely doesn't realize it, but as he walked away thinking I helped him tonight, he truly helped me.
I'm in the news business for the love and passion I have for news and to see the industry as a whole do better. When I hung up the phone a short time ago, it not only made me feel great to know I was there to help a friend, but it makes me a better journalist as well as a better person. The critical thinking and discussion with others who share the same passion is a real driver of excellence.
There used to be times when I would find myself really disappointed in my lack having a mentor of my own. What I didn't expect was the rewarding feeling and strategic growth I gained being one to others.
There are many measures of success in the news business. The satisfaction in making this business better by helping others may not win any awards, but it will leave you with a feeling far better for a much longer time.