I am sure someone has a plan or a vision. They must! It’s too important to just let fate take over, right? Someone must be looking ahead five years or even two years to make sure multi-media journalists have a place to work and thrive.
Every day I see more postings on social media about positions open in TV station newsrooms and even networks nationwide. Each one has a “pitch” about working in a desirable city or working for a company with a history of strong journalism and community involvement. But, in the end, do these companies really know what is motivating this generation of journalists? Do they understand that professional growth is a key element to finding employees? Are they willing to invest in the future of the company by investing in journalists who will be loyal.
On the same social media feeds, I also see veteran journalists quitting. Every day, it seems, there is another one who says it’s time to go. Some of them voluntary. The stations want them to stay but are offering them no more money and demanding they do more work and anchor more newscasts. Veteran reporters are being asked to learn how to produce and then told they must work 6 days a week because the station is short-staffed. Many producers are now required to handle content in several daily newscasts and things are slipping through the cracks. Where is the cutting-edge journalism? Do you wonder why they are all looking for jobs in public relations?
So, what is the “end game”? More local TV news, fewer experienced people to gather and produce it, reporters and anchors and producers working harder and then are told there will be no raises and no bonus? Stations are advertising daily to fill open positions. The only people willing to consider them are the new journalists who are just graduating. They were told they will have to “pay their dues” and take a low paying job for two years. Finding a job in TV news these days is very easy. Remember to tell Mom or Dad to have the checkbook ready. You won’t be able to live on what the station pays you.
So, again, what is the “end game”? Two years from now the veterans will be gone. Two years from now the journalists right out of school will be burned out and angry. They will realize they could have made more money selling fast food for the past two years. They have received no additional training. They have learned to be overworked, underpaid and cynical.
In two years, will those station websites that need constant feeding be pumping in millions to local TV stations? You can only hope. What if, instead of trying to squeeze more about of less, they nurtured the young staffers they are hiring right out of school by paying them a bit more and making sure they are growing professionally. Training and coaching go a long way to keeping people happy and focused. If your managers can’t do the training, there are plenty of veterans ready to help you. It’s the reason Top News Talent was born. Invest in your people by training them and coaching them.
What happens if nothing changes? Will viewers still be around? What is the plan and the “end game”? I want this discussion to begin in our circle of news professionals. I want it to be a real and frank discussion. You can hold on for another quarter, maybe. You can hold on for another year if you cut more or shrink the staff, maybe. But, what then? What’s the “end game”? Do you have one? Start the debate now. Let’s look for solutions together.