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TV Industry Facing Crisis of Mentorship

According to many industry analysts and insiders, the rising dominance of streaming platforms over the traditional broadcast networks is causing an unintended consequence: a lack of leadership development. As NBC’s Sierra Ornelas puts it: “Structurally, we'll have to figure out a better way to do this, because the structure we have now is not working.”

The pipeline from writer to showrunner has become strained by the explosive growth of the streaming series. The pace at which new streaming series are being greenlit and produced, combined with the shorter runs of episodes, are creating a situation where inexperienced writers don’t have enough opportunities to gain valuable mentorship experience.

When there were only a few networks and a few cable channels, there was a path to becoming a showrunner that made up for the lack of training a writer would have in logistics. Basically, the training came through mentoring and experience. When television consisted of 20-22 episodes a year, even junior writers could watch their script go from their hands to the screen. Writers moved up the writer ranks, and by the time they were pitching their own shows, they would have seen at least 50 episodes of television being made.

Something systemic needs to be done to ensure that new writers are trained as much as some were in the old system. Because as sink-or-swim as television has always been, the lack of experience and support in the new one will simply leave many to fail.

Possible Preaching Angle:

Successful ministry never happens in a vacuum. Rather, mentorship is an essential element of Christian community, and without it our people tend to drift aimlessly.

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