On Tuesday night CNN taped a post-State of the Union show on campus.
It was a response to the address from a group of local Richmond residents hosted by Erin Burnett, and I was asked by the PR department to help set up and take down the set. As you may remember (or maybe not), the speech itself was a little delayed because of the Dorner coverage, and the rebuttal, and then more Dorner coverage, so by the time they actually taped her show it was around 11:30 p.m. and we’d been there for about five hours.
For a lot of the time the crew didn’t have anything to do but sit around and wait, the entire time facing the possibility that the show might be cancelled and all their travelling, money and work would go to waste. But not once did I hear any of them stop joking, planning or commenting on the address — much less complain.
For a few minutes I sat in one of the rooms with two of the video guys who were nine-year veterans on the network, and the entire time they were exchanging inside jokes and stories about people they’d interviewed previously. At one point, half to join the conversation, half because I was curious, I asked whether they liked their jobs.
“Are you kidding?” one replied. He paused for a moment. “Watch this,” he said, holding a headphone with his producer’s voice squeaking out of it up to his ear and pointed at the TV screen. “Breaking news!” He commanded. A few seconds later, “BREAKING NEWS” flashed across the screen.
I think most people would understand loving your job if you’re Erin Burnett. But these were just the video guys, and that was just the student intern smiling in the corner and the make-up girl enthusiastically touching up Erin’s lipstick. Not one of them came off tired or even slightly exasperated for a second, and after awhile it started to rub off on me. I’m usually not one for standing around doing nothing for long periods of time, but before I knew it we were breaking down the set and my boss was thanking me for sticking around for the full six hours. I looked at my phone, having no idea that I had been there that long.
On another note, I’m also covering the General Assembly for a class this semester. I’m supposed to get quotes from delegates and senators on different legislation throughout the session, but because they’re never available I end up talking to their secretaries or legislative aides most of the time. And sometimes, the person on the other end of the line is cheery, patiently taking down every last letter of my name. But other times, the voice sounds as if it would sell its soul to get me off the phone, snapping that the senator or delegate isn’t available and please just call back another time, bye.
I understand the difficulty in acting like the most chipper person on the planet for every moment of the day. Some days you drop your entire cup of coffee on your white blouse, or your cat gets sick, or your boyfriend dumps you on Valentine’s Day. But as someone who’s graduating in three months, it’s become so much more apparent to me who likes their job and who doesn’t, and how much it truly matters. If you’re counting down the minutes until 5:00, I can hear it in your voice and see it in your face with every move you make. Everyone can.
But it’s not just that. It’s not just picking a job you like because it reflects well on the company which in turn will bring in more business, etc. It’s more than that.
If you’re truly passionate about what you’re doing, it shows in the sixth hour of waiting, when you’re just standing around with a video camera waiting for the last audience member to get out of the bathroom. It shows when nobody’s watching but the lowly PR student who never even considered broadcast journalism before, but is now Googling open positions because she wants your job more than ever.