Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Life Less Televised

We are sitting at a long table at a Birmingham restaurant, a group of operations people, producers, and newsroom folk from several stations. We are in town to get schooled on the next version of our news computer system, but for now, we are enjoying Southern comfort food. And as TV people do, we talk about TV and the shows we love when we're not doing news.

Game Of Thrones comes up a lot. So does Breaking Bad. So do a lot of other shows. And then somebody queries me.

"Well," I scratch out. "I'm a big fan of Hell's Kitchen. I like MasterChef." That's enough to satisfy the question. I'm glad, because the complete truth requires more exposition.

It goes like this: after working nights for more than a decade and not watching primetime television, I never developed an affinity for it, and I never missed it. Even when I shifted to working days, I never found reasons to set a DVR. I never owned a DVR; I rigged my VHS VCR to record The Sopranos as needed.

Sounds like sacrilege, no? Imagine a TV news producer who doesn't watch TV! I prefer to call it a separation of work and life.

When I come home from work, I want to leave a lot of it there. But still, I'm spend time reading print journalism. News articles and blogs on the 'net are my prime time schedule three nights out of the week. Other times I'm with my friends at church or capering about in a kilt with my Scottish dancing friends.

I have a few indulgences: the aforementioned cooking shows and Bar Rescue. But that's it. My real life is much more interesting and lively outside the cable box. I have told others real reality will never equal virtual reality.

But on this night, I don't feel like soapboxing it to the table, and it's not the right audience. Anyway, I have previously told a conference room full of aspiring journalists to make sure they find a life outside the business, in whatever way they can. Those who don't are doomed to the fishbowl life, not one of the person who's constantly observed, but one who is constantly observing without doing.

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