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.
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.
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!