Inside the life of a NBC News Producer – #MemberSpotlight

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From Tokyo to London and a career in journalism, you can tell that Simeon Paterson has travelled far and wide. Perhaps that's even where his passion for journalism comes from – and we wouldn't be surprised.

Journalism is an art, and it can be a dangerous one at that. In his years as a journalist and producer, Simeon has had the chance to work on stories of all different magnitudes, from George Floyd murals (below) to a story about arms trafficking in Kenya. His experience is awe-inspiring, and it's enough to look at some of the videos below to see why.

Of course, Simeon has been affected by Covid just like any other journalist, forced to understand and envision ways to make TV and information from home. For this Member Spotlight, we are learning more about the story of Simeon and how he navigated through the lockdown restrictions, constantly in search for the ultimate truth.

Where are you based now and who do you work for?

I am based in London and working for NBC News and its various offshoots, including MSNBC, NBC News Now, and more.

That’s actually a pandemic pivot (haven’t we all had a lot of those this year?) from my original job as part of the launch team for a new international news channel NBC were due to launch – NBC Sky World News – which has now been shelved.

That means I and my colleagues will soon be on the market so if anyone out there is looking for a journalist / producer, get in touch! 

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

Before moving back to London and eventually a job in TV journalism, I was a recruiter in Tokyo! Pretty different but both require a lot of phone bashing, persuasion and research.

Can you explain your creative process?

It’s a cliché to talk about inspiration being 99% perspiration but it’s true. When you are working in daily news ‘creativity’ is just having good story ideas and finding ways to execute them well, as quickly as possible. Read a lot, question a lot and work a lot.

How has technology affected the way you work (if at all)?

Well we’ve all had to work out how to make TV from home, which everyone would have told you is more or less impossible before the pandemic. It forced a rapid evolution in tech and working practices that were lagging way behind other industries because of the technical challenges of TV. Slow internet connectivity and problems sharing video editing projects easily are still bottlenecks but those will be resolved eventually.

What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?

Like most people in the industry, I am both fascinated by news and convinced it can be done better. But, honestly, none of that matters unless you have a stable income and the headspace that comes with it. No-one does their best work when they are struggling to stay afloat but unfortunately that’s far too common in the creative industries. Fortunately the big news organisations generally treat their staff well, it’s the getting there that is hard part.

What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?

It’s years ago, but I was once sent to Kenya to do a story about arms trafficking and because my bosses couldn’t afford much time in the country, I had to nail the whole story down before they arrived. Like so many things in news, nothing on the ground was quite as we thought it would be, so I spend several weeks going round the country in a Land Rover researching it myself. I am still staggered I was given that much latitude as a relatively new producer, and impressed my bosses wanted to nail down the facts rather than just recycle the usual NGO and existing media talking points, as is far too common in news.

How do you recharge away from the office?

Travel, craft beer and techno. I also dabble in silat, a SE Asian martial art, though I am terrible at it.

What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives looking for work?

Going to depend on the industry, but in journalism I would say that having a skill other than just journalism is useful. If you can also do accounting, or code, or whatever, you will probably find you are more useful than if you are a pure generalist, like me. Then again, most of us are generalists, so it’s not a barrier to entry.

What’s your one big hope for the future of the creative industries?

Less of a division between the creatives and the rest. For the sake of both. The division is already blurry but creatives sense of non-creative stuff as beneath us doesn’t help. Bridging that gap might even do something about the chronic financial insecurity of the creative sector and the diversity and inclusion issues that come with it.

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

More original journalism and sustainable industry economics to support it.

Find more journalists here!


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