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Video Vault | The Importance of a Clean Desk

Reported by: Tom Hawley
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Updated: 6/18/2014 10:30 am

LAS VEGAS (KSNV — This week, News 3 remembers station owner James E. Rogers, who passed away on June 14, 2014.

Anyone who ever worked for Jim knows that he liked a neat, orderly office environment. So when "National Clean Desk Day" appeared on the calendar 20 years ago, reporter Bob Clausen took the story and ran with it.

Longtime News 3 viewers will recognize a few of the people Clausen talked to; one of whom is a national media figure today. But Clausen elected to start his report at the top.

"The two reasons* that people come to see you," Jim Rogers enumerated in 1994. "First of all, because they have some interest in your business. And when you have a clean desk, it shows that you're organized. When they come to see you, they don't know whether you know how to run your business or not."
"Here at News 3 we pride ourselves with being a step ahead of the rest," reports Clausen. "That's why last week we all saw the writing on the wall. OK, actually it's the writing on the door."

Clausen points to a piece of paper taped to glass: "Just a memo, beginning of the year letting everyone know to pick up, clean up, make things nice and tidy. Let's see if it's working."

"Let's go ahead and start with the Assignment Desk," says Clausen, strolling through the newsroom and gesturing to a label. "See, it says it right over there."

"Now it looks kind of neat, but remember when you were a kid and you had to clean up your room and you stuffed everything under the bed?" Clausen opens a cabinet to reveal the clutter within. "This is under the bed. Let's go ahead and take a look at my desk."

The camera pans across Clausen's perfectly ordered desk, replete with IBM Selectric Typewriter. Point made.

"You guys clean your desk up today?" asks Clausen as he walks up to reporter Scott Andrus's cubicle.

"I just got back from vacation," returns Andrus sheepishly, with papers and videotapes in evidence on his desktop. "Normally my desk is exceptionally clean. Ask anyone."

"Gwen Castaldi's desk," observes Clausen, approaching the veteran News 3 anchor.

"Yeah, well it's kind of medium messy," chuckles Castaldi. "Meaning it's semi-organized. I understand it."

"Hey, National Clean Desk Day," Clausen barges into the Sports office. "You guys taking part?"

"We're in big trouble," says Sports Reporter Jerry Olenyn surveying the disarray. "Big trouble."

"How's your desk, Colin?" Clausen directs his attention to Sports Director Colin Cowherd.

"We're very busy, Bob," deflects Cowherd. "We don't have time for this."

"Dave Courvoisier's office," observes Clausen, settling into a large reclining chair and clasping hands behind his head. "Very clean. This I could get used to."

"Dave's here," warns an off-camera voice. Clausen bolts out of the chair and disappears.

"But if you have a cluttered desk, they're going to think that the entire organization is a cluttered mess," resumes Rogers. "If you have an organized desk, they tend to believe that you know what you're doing."

Back to 2014, while there is no study to support this, it's a reasonable supposition that the desks at News 3 are cleaner than those at any other southern Nevada TV station.

Bob Clausen is still in the news business, these days working as an anchor. Considering his years in the early '90s at News 3 in Las Vegas, today he may have the cleanest desk at his station (KARK) in Little Rock, Ark.

Scott Andrus and Gwen Castaldi are retired from the news business. Jerry Olenyn is a news anchor in Redding, Calif. And Colin Cowherd hosts nationally syndicated "The Herd" on ESPN Radio. 

* It's not clear what the 2nd reason was. It was edited out of the original 1994 report.


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