Saturday, December 30, 2006

Management of Broadcast News by Baseball:
Chip Mahaney's Insights  

When I do Management by Baseball speaking engagements, I get broad variety of audience reception. A lot of people come into the talk presuming it's all about entertainment -- that they won't get any meat. Others are just plain cynical. Most come with open minds. After a lot of trying to recognize patterns about who just "gets it", while I always have attendees who do and add to my knowledge, too, I have come to the conclusion that the highest concentration of people who "get it" quickly are those who already work in industries where The Talent Is The Product.

In my book tour, I did a couple of those traditional radio tours, and the Harper Collins publicist & my partners at Bolde PR snared me cool television spots, as well. Both radio and television management really get Management by Baseball, so it was a lot of fun, because they saw the parallels between broadcast and baseball very quickly, the most obvious intersection being The Talent Is The Product. It's not the quality of the individual on-air talent that establishes a likely performance baseline, though like the starting rotation, that's truly vital. There is the entire team of people behind the scenes, and their ability to be both artistic/creative and operationally capable sequentially and sometimes simultaneously is the make or break factor. Everybody gets to have a little ego, but it's a rare team that can afford any of the individuals to have too much.

So it's no surprise to me that Smartbusy.TV, an interesting new blog by Chip Mahaney has a entry where he gets it -- and more.

Mahaney is managing editor for news at Dallas metro's Channel 4, KDFW. His blog entry, "Management by Baseball", and how it's so much like TV news, didn't merely draw the parallels I already knew, but added some I should have seen. Go read it -- I won't steal his thunder, except for one t-clap that is especially vital, another critical correlate for those who are likely to get it.

That's the necessity of both rigorous, watertight planning and the concurrent understanding that improvisation and instant innovation will be inevitable. Like a baseball manager, the news team has to make a game plan informed with data and hunch. Like a baseball manager, for example Mike Scioscia who stated he made a couple of hundred decisions during each game, the broadcast news team will cut and fill, stretch and tighten to adapt immediately before and during the broadcast to adjust for breaking news or, more frequently, availability of material from affiliates or their own crews in the field who may or may not get what the team is hoping for.

I really appreciate Chip Mahaney's observations, and welcome this site's addition to blogotopia. I hope he comes back with more MBB insights as they crop up for him, but even if he doesn't, I think he's going to be very worthwhile reading.

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