Tag Archives: deborah brown-volkman

Lost in the Layoffs: The Non-Reporters, Non-Anchors Who Don’t Make the Paper

Sony_MVS-8000a_lgI can’t operate a switcher to save my life.  In fact, in all the years I’ve been in and around control rooms, they’ve never failed to give me the creeps (the low light and monitors, glowing buttons and standys and takes and, of course, all that shouting) I’ve always been far more comfortable out in the middle of a hurricane or elbowing my way into the pack to get my mic in front of some indicted public official.

But the honest truth is this:  if I lose my job, odds are it’ll get mentioned in the newspaper (I treasure my New York Daily News headline:  No More Joyella in Mudville upon my departure from WNYW).

But lay off the entire control room, and not only will the newscasts look darn bumpy that night (you can just forget that quad box and custom wipe you were hoping for), but the people who lose their jobs will almost certainly not be mentioned in the next day’s paper.

Unless, of course, it’s “15 laid off at Channel 6–but fear not, it’s nobody you know…the wacky weatherman’s safe, the salty and avuncular anchor’s hanging on for another day, and that cute morning traffic girl will be back in the morning in that news-director-ordered tight sweater. The layoffs?  Just some, you know, behind the scenes people.”

Very rarely does the firing of a longtime but unseen employee merit mention in a newspaper by name.  It happened recently when Alan Henney, a weekend assignment manager at WUSA/DC put himself on “permanent furlough” and left the station with a blistering memo that suggested that the station’s longstanding tradition as a home of serious journalism was in danger, if not dead already.

It happened again when KARE/Minneapolis parted ways with a behind-the-scenes player considered the “heart and soul” of the KARE newsroom, Senior Executive Producer Lonnie Hartley.  His layoff was made newsworthy when the entire newsroom, led by talent with connections to print writers, voiced their outrage.

For most, though, it’s pink slip, then silence.  You walk out the door you’ve been reporting to for decades, and as far as viewers know, nothing’s even happened.  I know it’s part of the downward spiral stations across the country are in.  Only the lean have a shot at surviving.  Got it.  And yet, there’s something about all the pity pouring out for the poor dethroned anchors and reporters, who, after all, have their name to fall back on.

On this blog, the most popular comments continue–even months after the fact–to involve a laid off weatherman in Denver, and fired reporter/anchors in Washington, DC and Tampa.

DeDapper Media CEO (and ex WNBC reporter) Jay DeDapper

DeDapper Media CEO (and ex WNBC reporter) Jay DeDapper

This week the New York Daily News reported that former WNBC reporter Jay DeDapper’s started his own production company, DeDapper Media.  I applaud Jay and wish him well.  I’ve done the same thing myself, and I’d be the first to admit that having any kind of “name” is one card to play when you’re up against it.  “The jobs, they’re not just disappearing and they’ll be coming back; they’re disappearing permanently,” DeDapper told the Daily News’ Richard Huff. “There will be very few places in journalism on television for good people.”

The advantage to having a name, is being able to use it to find the next thing.  “The idea is, basically for 20-some-odd years, what I’ve done more than anything else is tell stories for a living,” he told the News. DeDapper has contacts and he’s a known entity.  And when a guy like Jay DeDapper decides on a new path, that itself becomes worthy of a news article, which never hurts when you hang out a shingle and start looking for business.

The laid off TD isn’t so lucky.  Brilliant in those dimly-lit control rooms, working magic on a Sony MVS 8000 (“I can give you eight boxes, but we don’t have eight live sources”) but separated from the control room, then what?  No newspaper mention, and no clear next step.  No, they’re not storytellers like reporters, who can find other ways of assembling information and telling stories, whether its for a production company, a PR firm, or as a TV pitchman.  Had there not been an injustice of Epic Proportions, I’d be playing the role of a TV type on the new season of HBO’s True Blood (I’m not bitter, mind you, just disappointed.  I don’t carry a grudge).

So how does the live truck op, the satellite engineer, the camera operator or the TD sit down, stare at their resume (which shows a clear flow from college to today that screams “I’m damn good at what I do!”) and think, this only gets me the job I just lost?

30shift2_190

Rebecca Zucker

Rebecca Zucker

Rebecca Zucker is a San Francisco based executive coach and partner at Next Step Partners, a firm that specializes in guiding clients through career transitions.  She says in the current business climate, about a third of the firm’s business involves helping clients answer that question, “now what?”

“Formulate a hypothesis,” she says.  “Even a crazy daydream.”  What was it you wanted to do before you ended up in local news?  Actor?  Pastry chef?  Try and remember.  Zucker asks her clients to think back to the peak experiences–outside of work–in their lives.  “A time when you felt like you were thriving, alive, confident, competent and at the top of your game,” she said.  The exercise involves looking at those times and figuring out what made them so special.  Was it intellectual or artistic challenge?  Was it cooperation or collaboration?  Whatever it was, these are the keys to your own personal satisfaction, and knowing what they are will help you figure out what kind of work will make you happy.  “The reasons (those experiences) felt so great were because you were completely expressing your own values,” said Zucker.

Zucker urges clients to read Herminia Ibarra’s book, Working Identity, which offers tips for mid-career professionals on reinventing themselves–and enjoying the result.  Key piece of beginner’s advice?  “Don’t try to analyze or plan your way into a new career,” write Ibarra.  (Take that you over-analytical technical directors and producers!)

Zucker suggests trying out new ideas, even a bunch of new ideas.  If you think it could be pastry chef, figure out who you can invite to lunch for an informational interview.  Does it feel natural?  Could you see yourself doing that kind of work?  Attend a conference or a class.  Small steps.  “They’ll find out which doors they want to shut, and where they want to dive deeper,” says Zucker.

Oh.  And here’s a big one:  don’t obsess about what others are telling you.  What would you do for a living if your friends, former co-workers, spouse, and family didn’t get a vote?

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Filed under layoffs

Lost in the Layoffs: The Non-Reporters, Non-Anchors Who Don't Make the Paper

Sony_MVS-8000a_lgI can’t operate a switcher to save my life.  In fact, in all the years I’ve been in and around control rooms, they’ve never failed to give me the creeps (the low light and monitors, glowing buttons and standys and takes and, of course, all that shouting) I’ve always been far more comfortable out in the middle of a hurricane or elbowing my way into the pack to get my mic in front of some indicted public official.

But the honest truth is this:  if I lose my job, odds are it’ll get mentioned in the newspaper (I treasure my New York Daily News headline:  No More Joyella in Mudville upon my departure from WNYW).

But lay off the entire control room, and not only will the newscasts look darn bumpy that night (you can just forget that quad box and custom wipe you were hoping for), but the people who lose their jobs will almost certainly not be mentioned in the next day’s paper.

Unless, of course, it’s “15 laid off at Channel 6–but fear not, it’s nobody you know…the wacky weatherman’s safe, the salty and avuncular anchor’s hanging on for another day, and that cute morning traffic girl will be back in the morning in that news-director-ordered tight sweater. The layoffs?  Just some, you know, behind the scenes people.”

Very rarely does the firing of a longtime but unseen employee merit mention in a newspaper by name.  It happened recently when Alan Henney, a weekend assignment manager at WUSA/DC put himself on “permanent furlough” and left the station with a blistering memo that suggested that the station’s longstanding tradition as a home of serious journalism was in danger, if not dead already.

It happened again when KARE/Minneapolis parted ways with a behind-the-scenes player considered the “heart and soul” of the KARE newsroom, Senior Executive Producer Lonnie Hartley.  His layoff was made newsworthy when the entire newsroom, led by talent with connections to print writers, voiced their outrage.

For most, though, it’s pink slip, then silence.  You walk out the door you’ve been reporting to for decades, and as far as viewers know, nothing’s even happened.  I know it’s part of the downward spiral stations across the country are in.  Only the lean have a shot at surviving.  Got it.  And yet, there’s something about all the pity pouring out for the poor dethroned anchors and reporters, who, after all, have their name to fall back on.

On this blog, the most popular comments continue–even months after the fact–to involve a laid off weatherman in Denver, and fired reporter/anchors in Washington, DC and Tampa.

DeDapper Media CEO (and ex WNBC reporter) Jay DeDapper

DeDapper Media CEO (and ex WNBC reporter) Jay DeDapper

This week the New York Daily News reported that former WNBC reporter Jay DeDapper’s started his own production company, DeDapper Media.  I applaud Jay and wish him well.  I’ve done the same thing myself, and I’d be the first to admit that having any kind of “name” is one card to play when you’re up against it.  “The jobs, they’re not just disappearing and they’ll be coming back; they’re disappearing permanently,” DeDapper told the Daily News’ Richard Huff. “There will be very few places in journalism on television for good people.”

The advantage to having a name, is being able to use it to find the next thing.  “The idea is, basically for 20-some-odd years, what I’ve done more than anything else is tell stories for a living,” he told the News. DeDapper has contacts and he’s a known entity.  And when a guy like Jay DeDapper decides on a new path, that itself becomes worthy of a news article, which never hurts when you hang out a shingle and start looking for business.

The laid off TD isn’t so lucky.  Brilliant in those dimly-lit control rooms, working magic on a Sony MVS 8000 (“I can give you eight boxes, but we don’t have eight live sources”) but separated from the control room, then what?  No newspaper mention, and no clear next step.  No, they’re not storytellers like reporters, who can find other ways of assembling information and telling stories, whether its for a production company, a PR firm, or as a TV pitchman.  Had there not been an injustice of Epic Proportions, I’d be playing the role of a TV type on the new season of HBO’s True Blood (I’m not bitter, mind you, just disappointed.  I don’t carry a grudge).

So how does the live truck op, the satellite engineer, the camera operator or the TD sit down, stare at their resume (which shows a clear flow from college to today that screams “I’m damn good at what I do!”) and think, this only gets me the job I just lost?

30shift2_190

Rebecca Zucker

Rebecca Zucker

Rebecca Zucker is a San Francisco based executive coach and partner at Next Step Partners, a firm that specializes in guiding clients through career transitions.  She says in the current business climate, about a third of the firm’s business involves helping clients answer that question, “now what?”

“Formulate a hypothesis,” she says.  “Even a crazy daydream.”  What was it you wanted to do before you ended up in local news?  Actor?  Pastry chef?  Try and remember.  Zucker asks her clients to think back to the peak experiences–outside of work–in their lives.  “A time when you felt like you were thriving, alive, confident, competent and at the top of your game,” she said.  The exercise involves looking at those times and figuring out what made them so special.  Was it intellectual or artistic challenge?  Was it cooperation or collaboration?  Whatever it was, these are the keys to your own personal satisfaction, and knowing what they are will help you figure out what kind of work will make you happy.  “The reasons (those experiences) felt so great were because you were completely expressing your own values,” said Zucker.

Zucker urges clients to read Herminia Ibarra’s book, Working Identity, which offers tips for mid-career professionals on reinventing themselves–and enjoying the result.  Key piece of beginner’s advice?  “Don’t try to analyze or plan your way into a new career,” write Ibarra.  (Take that you over-analytical technical directors and producers!)

Zucker suggests trying out new ideas, even a bunch of new ideas.  If you think it could be pastry chef, figure out who you can invite to lunch for an informational interview.  Does it feel natural?  Could you see yourself doing that kind of work?  Attend a conference or a class.  Small steps.  “They’ll find out which doors they want to shut, and where they want to dive deeper,” says Zucker.

Oh.  And here’s a big one:  don’t obsess about what others are telling you.  What would you do for a living if your friends, former co-workers, spouse, and family didn’t get a vote?

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Filed under layoffs

And Now, at the Risk of Sounding Insane, Let Me Say It: All is Well

Yes, It Does Look Bad.  No, We're Not Doomed.

Yes, It Does Look Bad. No, We're Not Doomed.


It’s going to be okay. One way or another, we will all be fine. Take a moment and let that sink in.

Now, sure, yes. Spend a day in a newsroom–TV or newspaper, doesn’t matter–and you’ll find most people are just not in the “it’s okay” mode right now. The news at the top of nytimes.com at this moment? “G.M. Notifying 1,100 Dealers That They Will Be Dropped.” That’s 1,100 fewer sources of revenue for local television stations across the country, and not exactly the gust of desperately needed fresh air the sales folk were lighting candles and praying for. And yet, today, I insist, it will be okay.

Ariane de Bonvoisin’s new book, “The First 30 Days,” suggests that times of change happen–because we either make the change or, in local news these days, it’s made for us. And yeah, that’s scary. When P. Kim Bui was laid off last year, she feared for more than just her career: “When I got laid off, my whole world crashed. Journalism was and is my life. This is what I was meant to do and all of a sudden, I had someone telling me I could no longer work.”  And she’s not the only one, not by a long shot.  I received a lot of supportive feedback for my recent post about the loss of a my journalist’s identity and the fear that I might never get it back.

Ariane de Bonvoisin:  "The First 30 Days"

Ariane de Bonvoisin: "The First 30 Days"

Ariane de Bonvoisin argues “life is on our side,” and that if you can get through the first 30 days, you can not only survive, but thrive. “The first few days and weeks are often the hardest, most emotional time. It’s when we have the most questions, emotions, doubts and fears, and when decisions need to be made. This is also the time when we are most in need of direction, information and support.”

Direction, information, and support rarely comes in the pile of paperwork HR hands you on your way out the door.  It can come in the form of loving support from friends and family, and with the help of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, it can come from social media connections and networking. There is power in talking and brainstorming.  It can also come more directly from a coach.

Coaching, in this case, does not mean picking up the phone, calling your agent and bitching about the lack of leads, the loss of work, and the generally sucky state of the business.  And it’s not necessarily surfing the couch at your therapist’s office.

It can be refreshing a resume that’s looking a little too, well, 1999.  Deborah Brown-Volkman, a coach to senior corporate executives, says “no one is going to give you a chance to explain yourself. If you want a job, it’s up to you to prove that you can do it. Your resume is your proof.” And if you’re trying to translate a reporter’s skill set to a new line of work, like PR or social media, re-writing your resume to make your case will be critical.  A little professional help couldn’t hurt.

As Brian Curtis at KXAS/Dallas reported this month, an executive coach can help you reinvent yourself by developing a personal brand beyond the “guy/girl from the news” and, as Curtis writes, “understanding who you are and what you need.”

Julia Stewart

Julia Stewart

A coach can help you leap from what you know–to what you never thought possible. As coach Julia Stewart puts it: “your skills are just as valuable as ever – maybe more so – the need for your skills is just showing up differently.”  Stewart says the trick in coaching laid off journalists is getting past the past–and to the future.  “I might shift the conversation away from what’s being lost to what you really want. That’s usually where the opportunities are and there are probably more opportunities than ever for journalists.  Or I might ask, what do you see as the biggest problem that the media has and how could you help fix it? Or what does the world/your
community/your family/etc need most and how could you help with that?  After the big questions, you can narrow down to actual opportunities and that’s where it gets fun.”

Maybe it’s the dream you put off–and off–because you couldn’t break away from what always seemed like a pretty decent gig: bigshot TV reporter or anchor or news director.  “But I’m Channel 7’s…” Well, now you’re not.  So what are you? Maybe it’s time to get back to that crazy dream.  What was it?

P. Kim Bui:  Loss, then a New Direction

P. Kim Bui: Loss, then a New Direction

For P. Kim Bui, it was a move onto the internet, though she made the move without the help of a coach.  “I write a lot about feeling lost in my own journals and I wonder if having someone to help me think things through would help. It definitely would have helped with my initial panic and depression.”  Those feelings, coaches like Stewart say, are absolutely part of the process:  “Self image can be the biggest hurdle and it can take some time to get over it. It’s not unusual to feel grief over something like this, although it may show up as anger or depression.”

I had a chance the other day to spend some time with a Coney Island sword swallower and fire eater. Not a personal or professional coach by any stretch. But she helped me see something nonetheless.  If I sat down–by myself–and tried to think my way from reporting local news to eating fire, I’d never get it done.  I could read a thousand books on the process and the history and the economic upside, but when it got down to the nitty gritty–the you know, eating-the-fire part, well, that might’ve been a problem.  As it was, I needed the one-on-one stop-thinking-and-just-give-it-a-try motivation to actually light that thing and put the flame in my mouth. The result:  euphoria.

The Power of Coaching:  a Journalist Learns to Eat Fire

The Power of Coaching: a Journalist Learns to Eat Fire

I did it twice more. The rush came in part from doing something I would have–on my own–thought my way out of trying.  My coach, covered in tattoos and ever so patient, showed me I had a talent inside I never knew was there.

We’re all going through massive change.  We will find our new paths.  Some of us will even create the new model of local news and become very, very rich. Others will just hit the jackpot by discovering ourselves. Whatever:  All is well.

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Filed under layoffs, Local News 2.0