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Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Producer's Nightmare: The Critique!

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One week after taking on the responsibility of Managing Editor, Larry Klaas started a new Channel 6 tradition: critiquing (or was it nitpicking?) the previous night’s newscast. Klaas (who was Larry #1 in a succession of three Larry’s that would be in charge of the news in the ‘80s) usually made an effort to be fair, but everyone who’s ever been around a live program knows that things can, and do, go wrong. All the Monday Morning Quarterbacking in the world won’t change that fact. I would take Larry #1’s critiques over Larry #2’s any day. (Larry #2 was a real piece of work, and even though he’s no longer alive to defend himself, I’m going to have to tell his story eventually.)

It’s nice to see the names of my old friends Nick Bogert (Mr. Cubs fan), Natalie Segal, Marianne Murciano, Dave Levine (who taught me a lot about conversational writing), Frank Lasko, Bill Lobean, and others. I was fortunate to run into both Bogert and Segal in the past few years.

While The Ten O’Clock News may have been a joke on some fronts, we had some talented folks who gave their all day in and day out. That’s why critiques can be so demoralizing. It’s great to get feedback, but you’ll notice there’s no criticism of the anchorman in here. I do agree with a lot that Larry #1 said (and not just his praise of my crafty Chyron work). We did need to pay more attention to things such as half track and match cuts. The best critiques are the ones that offer solutions and not just criticism. Little did we know it at the time, but things would get a whole lot worse, before they’d get any better.

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