Failure is Our Friend

We teach from failure in our broadcast journalism classes.  It’s what we do.

How many times have I sat and watched stories with my kids, pointing out all the ways they messed up visuals, audio, writing, sound bites, basically every aspect of their production?  The answer is, pretty much every time they do a story.

How often do I pat them on the back?  Not as much as you might think.

There is a fine line between building confidence and praising mediocrity.  I used to see it all the time when I was coaching baseball.  A coach from a certain opposing team would clap and scream praise from the dugout for the player who fielded a routine grounder and made a routine play.  

In the classroom, we are often guilty of the same thing, getting way too excited about a well-framed interview or a nice natural sound pop.  

It might be better to create an expectation for things like good interviews, solid audio, strong writing, all the elements of a news story.  “That’s what you were supposed to do.”

You can be positive, and support your students as they try to conquer the frustrating process of shooting and editing a story, but be careful about heaping a lot of praise on kids for “average.”  If they get strokes for average, they may never reach for great.

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