And Now, It’s My Story to Tell As Well

joyella_twitter

My Last Liveshot for WPLG

Last night, toward the end of WPLG/Miami’s 6:00 newscast, I did a live package on Twitter, the hot social media platform, and how the station intends to use it to engage viewers.  

I’d been pushing to make Twitter a bigger part of the newsroom’s daily life for a few months, after seeing the power of the site to connect with people in Miami and around the world;  many with excellent connections, ideas, and stories. I also believe that getting up to speed with Twitter makes local tv newsers more competitive in an increasingly difficult economic environment that’s putting so many talented people out of work.

Fittingly, my story on Twitter was my last as a reporter at WPLG.  I wasn’t laid off, and I wasn’t fired.  Last fall, I approached my news director, Bill Pohovey to ask out of the remaining two years of my contract.  I had no new job, and no issues with the station.  I’ve been proud to be associated with WPLG and Post-Newsweek, and have benefitted from working alongside some of the most amazing journalists in the business, both in front of, and behind the camera.  My decision was personal:  I’m getting married.

My fiancee, Tiffanie Wong, also has a TV job she loves, as a technical director at CNN in New York. That’s home for both of us, and despite months of trying to sell a Brooklyn girl on the South Florida lifestyle, it became clear I would be moving.  And so, on Friday, I will.  I’m packing up and heading North, two dogs and a cat in tow, and becoming one of the many reporters, anchors, writers, producers and managers who never imagined a climate like this–more stations firing than hiring–but facing the cold reality of it.  I don’t know if yesterday’s story will be my last, not just at WPLG, but period.

Getting a Taste of Multiplatform Reporting on a Bus to DC, with WPLG Photographer Mario Alonso

Getting a Taste of Multiplatform Reporting on a Bus to the Obama Inauguration in DC, with WPLG Photographer Mario Alonso

New York’s going through a horrific period of layoffs and cutbacks, and as my fantastic agent has put it to me bluntly, there isn’t any work, and there is a phenomenal amount of talent sitting on the sidelines ready to jump at anything that opens up.  

My friend and former WNYW colleague Jodi Applegate jumped at a job anchoring the news at News 12 on Long Island. Asa Aarons, forever a consumer reporter at WNBC, has hired on at NY1. Jobs that once would have been “beneath” us are now seen as life rafts in seas that threaten to swallow us up.  

It’s scary.  My agent calls to “check on me” and tell me that no, nothing much is happening.  (Other than clients being laid off and let go)  I troll the job listings and send resumes, and find lots of not much.  I send resumes anyway, sometimes sending applications to listings that sound digital and interesting, even if I don’t fully understand what it is that the job entails.

And at the same time, I’m excited.  The business is changing.  I can stay in my comfortable, well-compensated job, wait for the wave to hit in Miami, and lose the woman I want to marry, or–I can take the leap.  And the net, as they say, will appear.

 

WTNH's Ann Nyberg:  One of the Smart People

WTNH's Ann Nyberg: One of the Smart People

I am so damn curious where I will land.  I don’t think it will be at a television station.  I don’t know that I’ll even be on camera. Fortunately, I’ve never been one of those get-a-reversal-and-a-two-shot-walking-down-the-hallway-and-make-sure-I-get-my-facetime reporters.  I’m a storyteller. I just love telling good stories.  And more than ever before, I believe storytelling’s not in danger. Local tv news the way I’ve always known it is.  For years I’ve had the job of my dreams, meeting people, crafting packages, and getting to air them on TV.  Every day a different challenge.  Now, I think my dream is evolving, as much as my life is.

Will I end up in PR?  If I can’t find a paycheck, I’ll definitely look into it. Will I try to shoot my own stories and find an audience for them? You bet I will.  Will I keep a close watch on the smart people I’m meeting on Twitter and elsewhere–people like Ann Nyberg in Connecticut and Matthew Roberts in Denver–to see which way they think the wind is blowing? Oh you can bet your life on it.

And I’ll still be right here.  I’m loving writing about this career I’ve had–and one way or another, will continue to have–and how it’s changing, at times so painfully.  The blog (oh Lord, if only I could get paid to write all day!) will grow and be a place to share not just how others are responding to being out of work, but now, how I am, too.

I hope you’ll be here with me.  I know this is going to be interesting.  And hey, no matter what happens:  I got the girl!

Life Calls--Even at the Worst Time to Leave a Job in Local TV History (Photo of Tiffanie and I in San Francisco by Anna Kuperberg)

Life Calls--Even at the Worst Time to Leave a Job in Local TV History (Photo of Tiffanie and Me by Anna Kuperberg/See more of Anna's amazing work at http://www.kuperberg.com)

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33 Comments

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33 responses to “And Now, It’s My Story to Tell As Well

  1. Chris

    You said something very telling, but paradoxical: ‘Storytelling’s not in danger.’ Well, the demand for it isn’t, but the supply of it is. Your typical newscast cannot possibly ‘tell the story.’ It’s simply not designed to. Phrases like ‘Officials aren’t commenting,’ ‘No word yet on a cause’ and the always-humorous ‘We’ll bring you further details as we get them’ abound. Those are unfulfilled promises of stories, and it’s why we as viewers are abandoning TV news.

    There MUST be a place and venue where stories CAN be told. Places where there’s enough time between the Subaru commercial and the Lexus one to answer all those unanswered questions that leave us wondering why they even bothered to do the story in the first place. I’d beat a path to a place (on-line?) where the depth and breadth of stories is allowed to flourish. Where that is and what that is, I have no idea. But smart guys (like you) have the essence of it figured out. All you need to do is develop the skeletal framework, get some seed money, and ‘voila!’ Well, maybe not ‘voila!’ But closer to ‘voila!’ than anyone else in TV news is these days.

    • Chris,

      Thanks for commenting. I value your insight. And no, storytelling’s not endangered. That’s why Kokopelli is my brand logo. The original storyteller, of cave drawing fame. He found a way to get his stories out, and I will–all of us willing to do the work will–too. I’m watching the web, SM, and I’m willing to try anything. If I had ever (why do we never?) filled a savings account, I’d grab my DV cam and jet off someplace and find the story that inspires me, since I have no producer or manager who can tell me no (except, perhaps, the bride to be).

      Mark

  2. I did what you’re doing a hundred years ago. I have no regrets and neither will you.

    • Thanks, Barb. Wish I’d gotten to spend more time talking to you… We could’ve told some good stories around a few drinks, I gather. So, it’ll have to be in NYC!

  3. Arun

    Good luck, bro… It’s a really scary and tough time… but hang in there and congrats!

    • Thanks for the post, Arun! Can’t wait to see you guys. It is scary, and yet, so many of us want to get to what’s next–we’re smart enough and determined enough–we’ll get there. (But if you see me shouting “extra hot caramel dolce latte for Arun” one day, be kind)

  4. James Ford

    This was just really great, heartfelt and straightforward writing. You’ll use it wherever you go — and you’ll go _somewhere_. I admire you for being ahead of the curve and being true to the fact that love is all we’ve really got.

  5. Ann

    Mark…you make me blush…”you” are the smart one and people are following you because you get where things are headed. You are going to be just fine! We’ll see you soon. Have a wonderful wedding day and honeymoon. You made the right choice.

  6. Best of luck to you Mark! We’re getting married around the same time — April 25 for me.

    I certainly think you could make a living as a new media consultant for local TV. Not every station has a GM as wonderful as mine! (c;

    • Congratulations! And I hope your planning’s not driving you too crazy–I know it can get nuts sometimes!

      Thanks for reading the blog and onward to our weddings!

      Mark

  7. Ann,

    Thank you. It’s been a pleasure to get to know you, and I look forward to brainstorming back at home. If anything gets me down, somehow I think a wedding trip to Napa ought to do the trick and get me back in the right frame of mind and ready to hit the ground running when we get back.

    Mark

  8. Mario Alonso

    Hey buddy,

    I got to say, it was my pleasure having had the opportunity of meeting and working with someone of your caliber Mark. You were my favorite reporter to work with behind CJ, Terrell, Perez, Glena, John Henry Smith, Lousy Lohse and Todd. What the what? I’m kidding. Can’t guy have a little fun over here? But seriously, I view you as one of my role models. A great worker with mad skills in the art of Ninja(rainbow belt), but more importantly a great person with sincere concern and respect to others in and out of your life. Here we go! Oh boy, here come the water works. Thanks for inspiring me to run a half-marathon and a triathlon. Those were small accomplishments in my life; which I probably would have never done had I not met you. I’m going to miss the joking around. Your humor is what sets you apart from everyone else. And your ability to talk like a robot. Plus, you’re the master of the one-handed self picture taking. Not anyone can claim that skill. You my friend are WIZARD!

    Anyway, I wish you, Tiff and pets the best of luck in your new life. And yes, getting the girl is always more important than any old job. The Big Apple, I want to go to there; maybe sometime later this year. I’ll be sure to drop you a line if i’m ever in town. Till then, make sure you get plenty of egg.

    • Mario,

      Thanks for that. We did have some fun and survived the notorious bus ride to flat-out miss Obama’s swearing in, but it was never dull, and you will always be welcome in the Brooklyn pad!

      I’m going to–somehow–get Tina Fey to call you.

      Mark

  9. Brendan Keefe

    Mark,

    Great stuff as always.

    In a way I’m envious of you — not only leaving on your own terms (Post Newsweek decided I was “too expensive” seven years ago) but also going home to NYC.

    Ann is great. I grew up in New Haven and WTNH has always been my hometown station.

    Say hi to Brooklyn for us. I found our old Park Slope apartment on Grand Theft Auto IV the other day!

    And be careful of those NYPD cops. oh, wait, you won’t be carrying a camera or a microphone so they won’t bother you!

    Stay in touch. I’ll keep reading your blog every day.

    • Brendan,

      Great to hear from you…and thanks. I am excited about almost everything that’s happening… and the stuff that isn’t great still gets my blood flowing; part fear and part anticipation of the “next” thing. And yes, Ann is great. She’s as determined as anyone I’ve networked with since I started the blog about not going down with the ship–fighting for local news that means something and can keep people working at the same time.

      I love that you found your apartment on GTA… was the super there as well? Could you find anyplace to park?

      Mark

  10. Tom Blair

    Mark -I believe we worked together at your last live shot in New York when we did groundhog day in Staten Island and you did a long walk after the show to your vehicle parked blocks away like the closing shot of some spaghetti western (insert music).
    I was born in Miami and I’m glad that you’re moving back to the Empire State (nice job Tiffany).
    You don’t want to die in Florida Mark….
    that would be redundant.

    • Tom,

      Yep. We sure did work that oh-so-perfect Groundhog Day liveshot for FOX 5 together… and it’s good to hear from you. I’m happy to be headed home, close to my family in CT and Maine, and most of all, living with Tiffanie instead of talking to her on the phone each day about life and stories and so on.

      I’ll see you soon,

      Mark

  11. Without having ever met you in person, it is clear from your blogs, presence on Twitter and #journchat stint that you are a true blue journalist and one heck of a guy.
    You will never be without work, I promise you.
    I will be married 20 years next month and have four children, ranging in age from 6-17 (same husband, same marriage). I am so sure that success in my career has come because my personal life is so full — that I was able to focus on work without major distractions.
    Never once did I go without work when I stayed home with my kids: Bloomberg, MarketNews, BizJournals, magazines, were always looking for writers. Did I always take the most meaningful work? No. But I maintained my integrity and, when it was time to jump back in the work force full time, the best position ever landed in my lap.
    You will never regret putting your personal life first. After all: Life isn’t measured in the breaths you take, but in the number that take your breath away.
    Cheesy as it sounds, it’s true. Please keep us all apprised of your career/life journey. We are rooting for you!

  12. Elisha

    You’ve got your priorities straight, and that’s what matters.

  13. Donna,

    Wow. Thank you so much for that. I know I’m doing the right thing personally, and so the career equation simply becomes secondary. But I’m looking forward to it.

    Mark

  14. Bill

    Mark:
    You are one of the best storytellers I have had the pleasure to work with. I wish for you the best personally and professionally. It is great to re-connect with you after all these years.

  15. Congratulations, and good luck!

  16. Joe "Mr. Knozit" Pinner

    Mark…sheer poetry; however, the sheer realization that our industry along with our country has/have changed so drastically in such a devastatingly short time saddens the soul. The hope does spring eternal that we will bind together, right this ship and get all media back on sound and sight footing. Fortunately for me I started in broadcasting in 1950 in radio and in television in 1955 where I remain semi-retired and presenting weather along with live shots on Fridays. I say “fortunately” as the bulk of my career was doing the days of plenty…plenty of staff, equipment, MONEY, and no competition from outer space only the stations across the street. I do feel that emptiness you realize now about our business, but you have a new chapter unfolding with the love of your life that will vanquish any emptiness or doubt, so may you and your bride-to-be have a life filled with all things bright and beautiful…even if you never take another cue or…CUT! Joy and agape’…Joe Pinner WIS TV Columbia, SC joepinner.com

  17. Steward Jones

    Hey Mark…

    We both spent time at the big 13 in Birmingham… I’m still here… but freelancing. If you ever find yourself down here (or close) and find yourself in need of production… give me a call…!!!

    Congrats on your future. I expect you’ll end up on your feet.

    Steward Jones
    songerjones@aol.com

  18. Very Nice Blog.. with my best wishes.

    HAZEM
    http://www.jordan4ever.com/LiveTv/

  19. Andre Hepkins

    Hey Mark,

    That was a very powerful story.

    It’s interesting that you were in Miami when I came to Miami the first time. Then you went to New York. Then I went to New York. You went back to Miami. I just came back to Miami. And now you just went back to New York…hmmm.

    I wish you all the best.

  20. Patrick McNiff

    Mark,

    Well, this should give you plenty of time for Monkey Fishing. Keep you head up, Mark Twain said it best.

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

    Best of Luck!!

    Patrick

  21. Jenise

    Mark,

    I remember when you first told me about your site and like most interns I sort of ignored you, haha just kidding. I watched your last report and thought it was so appropiate that it was about twitter. The station really isn’t the same without you and although Todd will kill me for saying this, you really were my favorite reporter. I learned a lot from our adventures and you made me realize why I am crazy enough to be getting into this business especially during these tough times. You’re a great reporter, but even better story teller and I know that you’ll find a job doing what you love because you truly are a talented reporter.

    I must say things have been quiet around the station and seeing your empty desk depresses me, but I personally believe that if you’re doing it for love then that’s enough! I am lucky that I got to learn from you and I hope to run into you someday in the future.

    By the way, hamanahamana misses you like crazy and starbucks just isn’t the same without you!

  22. Don Ennis

    I buried the lead: have a great wedding and honeymoon! Napa, how wonderful!!!!

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