Media Matters

Sleep, friends and no PR agents: the many pleasures of quitting TV news

But people are nicer to you when you’re on TV.

What’s it like to leave TV? Don’t you miss it?

These are probably the two most common questions I hear when people learn I’ve quit my job as a TV journalist. I then usually get a look of utter incomprehension when I start babbling my standard reply. "Not really. Well, sometimes. Actually you know, it was just time to pull the plug: nine years, after all. I’m still in a transition period, trying to figure out what to do next. I miss the buzz sometimes, of course." I rattle on like anyone who tries to justify withdrawal symptoms.

These days, I can usually predict when someone is about to bring up the subject of my ex-boss, Rajdeep Sardesai, and the takeover of the channel by Reliance. To pre-empt that, I usually mutter something about taking time off and wanting a change of pace. You know what, I laugh and say, I’m enjoying the weekends off.

It’s true. After my nine-year stint, a significant portion of which was on the early morning shift, perhaps it’s understandable that for the first month or two, I could just not get enough sleep. All of a sudden I was able to have proper conversations, make proper plans. I was able to slow down.

Not so glamorous

I do miss the kick. Being on air when news breaks? I can’t explain it. You’re part of the zeitgeist, as someone put it to me years ago. It’s a beautiful feeling when all goes well. Many of us are news junkies by now, hardwired to yearn for and appreciate that news buzz.

So what in the world was I thinking by quitting? Well, first, my job wasn’t quite as glamorous as you’d think. TV news is a different ball-game from, say, TV serials, though quitting elicited so many gasps and shakes of the head, you’d think I’d turned my back on acting and stardom. Try waking up at 4 am for size. I routinely lost friends. Okay, not lost them entirely, but had them wondering for sure.

There’s also a feeling of dejection and disillusionment that has crept into TV news, and as long as this mood reigns supreme, I know there’s no chance of getting job satisfaction.

Anchoring the news is not something you can do with your mind switched off. Let no one tell you differently. You are not just on display; you are being judged every second. You can’t always be prepared for breaking news, so your credibility is on the line every second. A job in news TV demands all of you.

The outside world

Even for someone who has always known, or at least held on to, the distinction between people who like you for what job you have and those who like you for being yourself, let me just say that people are nicer to you when you’re on TV or when there’s a chance that you might bring them on TV. There’s a chance the spotlight might turn on them. It does happen. After all, this is something every reporter has done: milking his or her personal life and those of friends.

I would like to say my ego hasn’t taken a hit, but I suppose there’s no point lying. I have a regular-sized ego and a regular-sized hide so may be it does hurt once in a while. Have people changed? No. My circumstances have.

One upside is glorious. The PR calls have stopped. The emails now make me feel warm and fuzzy; that’s how rare they are.

People are less willing to cut you slack. It’s almost like you’re allowed to be a jerk if you’re on TV; why, it’s practically expected of you. Sometimes you can’t help it because you don’t have time to be polite when the adrenaline is coursing through your veins and the deadline pounding in your head. But you also get away with cancelling on people at the last minute for lesser reasons.

The nature of the beast

Serious journalists who are also news anchors are supposed to disown any notion that they are keen to be on air or that they enjoy being anchors ‒ even though no one finds it unseemly when print journalists get a kick out of their bylines. There are different rules for those on TV. Don’t get me started on looks and grooming.

Ultimately, I do understand why shock is the predominant reaction when I say I've quit. There’s massive exposure, at least at a national level. There are an amazing number of real-time responses. It’s pretty incredible to be able to meet and interview top personalities in different fields, to be able to chat with regular folk trying to surmount impossible challenges and to travel every once in a while.It's been an incredible journey, all told.

Am I totally done? Who knows? I might still be in denial. Or distracted ‒ for there's nothing like having a book come out and create its own sort of buzz.

Amrita Tripathi is a writer and freelance journalist. Her second novel The Sibius Knot is on sale now. You can tweet her @amritat or visit amritatripathi.com.

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Getting the best from collaborations

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Meena Ganesh shares a similar view when she says that entrepreneurs offer an outsider’s fresh perspective on the existing gaps in healthcare. They are therefore better equipped to offer disruptive technology solutions that put the customer right at the center. Her own venture, Portea Medical, was born out of a need in the hitherto unaddressed area of patient experience – quality home care.

There are enough examples of hospitals that have gained significantly by partnering with or investing in such ventures. For example, the Children’s Medical Centre in Dallas actively invests in tech startups to offer better care to its patients. One such startup produces sensors smaller than a grain of sand, that can be embedded in pills to alert caregivers if a medication has been taken or not. Another app delivers care givers at customers’ door step for check-ups. Providence St Joseph’s Health, that has medical centres across the U.S., has invested in a range of startups that address different patient needs – from patient feedback and wearable monitoring devices to remote video interpretation and surgical blood loss monitoring. UNC Hospital in North Carolina uses a change management platform developed by a startup in order to improve patient experience at its Emergency and Dermatology departments. The platform essentially comes with a friendly and non-intrusive way to gather patient feedback.

When intrapreneurship can lead to patient centric innovation

Hospitals can also encourage a culture of intrapreneurship within the organization. According to Meena Ganesh, this would mean building a ‘listening organization’ because as she says, listening and being open to new ideas leads to innovation. Santosh Desai, MD& CEO - Future Brands Ltd, who was also part of the panel discussion, feels that most innovations are a result of looking at “large cultural shifts, outside the frame of narrow business”. So hospitals will need to encourage enterprising professionals in the organization to observe behavior trends as part of the ideation process. Also, as Dr Ram Narain, Executive Director, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, points out, they will need to tell the employees who have the potential to drive innovative initiatives, “Do not fail, but if you fail, we still back you.” Innovative companies such as Google actively follow this practice, allowing employees to pick projects they are passionate about and work on them to deliver fresh solutions.

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Another example is Penn Medicine in Philadelphia which launched an ‘innovation tournament’ across the organization as part of its efforts to improve patient care. Participants worked with professors from Wharton Business School to prepare for the ideas challenge. More than 1,750 ideas were submitted by 1,400 participants, out of which 10 were selected. The focus was on getting ideas around the front end and some of the submitted ideas included:

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As Arlen Meyers, MD, President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, says in a report, although many good ideas come from the front line, physicians must also be encouraged to think innovatively about patient experience. An academic study also builds a strong case to encourage intrapreneurship among nurses. Given they comprise a large part of the front-line staff for healthcare delivery, nurses should also be given the freedom to create and design innovative systems for improving patient experience.

According to a Harvard Business Review article quoted in a university study, employees who have the potential to be intrapreneurs, show some marked characteristics. These include a sense of ownership, perseverance, emotional intelligence and the ability to look at the big picture along with the desire, and ideas, to improve it. But trust and support of the management is essential to bringing out and taking the ideas forward.

Creating an environment conducive to innovation is the first step to bringing about innovation-driven outcomes. These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott, which is among the top 100 global innovator companies, is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.