What Will You Do When You Lose Your Job in the News Business? & Dealing with New Forms of Communication

What will you do when you lose your job in the news business?  I was chatting with my good friend and former co-worker Jamey Tucker about that.  He had posted that on his blog a while back and he was also talking to some of his current TV co-workers in Nashville about it.  This is especially relevant these days as newsrooms across the country make cuts and in the case of some broadcast groups, they not only tighten belts but some (Young Broadcasting for one) have filed for bankruptcy protection.  JT said he spoke to almost two dozen co-workers and if I understood him correctly, no one, NOT A SINGLE ONE, had an action plan or a fallback position.  Folks, I hate to break this to you but I don’t think there is ANY such thing as a secure job in the TV, radio or newspaper business anymore.  Case in point, the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, CO closed its doors after 150-years in the business.  Locally, I’m told by a reliable source that The Commercial Appeal, which has announced that cuts are coming, will lay off 18 folks in “Editorial” March 12.

Some might think “hey, I’m a manager and high up on the totem pole.  They won’t cut me!”  I think that is rather foolish thinking.  I know when I was in the newsroom folks would say “hey, I can always flip burgers if I lose my job”.  You might be surprised to find that there are even fewer of those jobs out there these days.  Some news people (especially those on-air) might think they can slip into some PR role in the community.  Maybe so, but even demand for those has increased and they don’t pay as much as you might think IF you can find an open position.  What’s the answer?  I wish I knew.  I’m still trying to unload some stocks that I thought would never be worth as little as they are today.  Someone mentioned the other day that the NYTimes stock had dropped to the point that shares were selling for about 75 cents more than the Sunday paper?  Now that is pretty bad.  A couple of years ago I would have bet money (and I did) that the NYTimes would never go under and now I think it is a very real possibility.  Moving on…

I think I’ve mentioned previously that I really try to embrace new technologies and forms of communications.  I wasn’t on the cutting edge of blogging but I’ve jumped in and tried to keep up with it.  I’ve considered doing a podcast or perhaps doing some video on this but I’m afraid that someone clicking on my blog might be scared away if my big old talking head suddenly comes up on their computer screen.  While I’ve not Twittered, I have joined Facebook and Linkedin. …and that’s about it.  I get notifications all the time about becoming friends with someone and to be honest, I just don’t have the time to sit down and take care of all of that.  I’ve noticed (and this is not a slam by any means) that many (not all, mind you) folks who have a lot of time to post on Facebook have a paying job that gives them the time for that luxury.  Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a lot to be said for networking but I finally checked in on my Facebook page for the first time in more than a month!  And here’s an observation: If you are really needing to get in touch with me about something you want me to do;  email me, text me or call me.  If you rely on my Facebook connection to get in touch with me then you are liable to be SOL in a BOW.  Again, moving on..

As I said I’m trying to embrace new forms of technology.  I remember in grade school back in the 60s where we were told we would have video-telephones to communicate, jet packs to get around town and we would just take pills and not have to eat food.  Well, I NEED to eat pills instead of food and that would help my waistline.  I don’t use a jetpack but I do fly an airplane. And my oldest son asked me if I would join Skype so we could have video communication.  Apparently I’m the only parent/Grandparent in the family who hasn’t joined up so far.  I’ve installed the software on my computer and have hooked up my video and audio gear to provide the picture and sound.  I still haven’t made contact with anyone but I hope to try it out for the first time this weekend.  It may turn out to be the greatest thing since sliced bread or it could be like my sky-blue polyester disco suit from the 70s:  one of those things that just seemed like the thing to have or do at the time.  I’ll keep you posted.

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18 Comments on “What Will You Do When You Lose Your Job in the News Business? & Dealing with New Forms of Communication”

  1. Chris in Brasil Says:

    Joe, I posted this on my FB page. I almost linked it to you but didn’t want you to wait til April to see it! I think this goes with what you just wrote!

  2. joelarkins Says:

    A thousand comedians out of work and you show up. LOL
    Thanks for checking in and thanks for sharing.

  3. JD Says:

    Hi Joe!
    Just wanted to weigh in on the local talent who have gone on to other things:

    1. John Bennett-PR and promotions.
    2. Ray Pohlman-PR for Dick Hackett and Promotions.
    3. Carey Hoffman-PR for Herenton and Parks Director.
    4. Dan Stewart-Real Estate sales.
    5. Corie Ventura-Movie actress.
    6. Cori Lake-Mom.
    7. Larry Enis-Promotions for car firm and Media relations.
    8. Rod Starnes-Independent films.
    9. Dr. Lurene Cachola-Independent films, Professor.
    10.Jane Segal-LG&W media relations.
    11. Joe Larkins-Pilot, Blogger, Professional Canine Excercise technician, Private Executive Chef, Chief Bottle Washer, Technology tester and evaluator.
    12. Ethel Sengstacke-Grammaw!

    Wish I knew where some of the other fine people had gone to.

  4. Lew Says:

    I guess you can add me to the list who jumped to PR/Marketing from TV. As it turned out, just in the nick of time! I had my music to fall back on, but that’s a tough living these days too! At least, it’s a “not bad” second job.


  5. JD Says:

    Holy Smokes Joe!
    I forgot Pam McKelvy and Pam Crittendon!

    They got married, settled down, and remained beautiful! ‘Nuff said!

  6. ALAMO FUNRO Says:

    JD forgot Esme Murphy. Last I heard she was up North working as a beauty consultant.

  7. joelarkins Says:

    Actually Ms. Murphy is a still a reporter and weekend morning anchor for WCCO in the Twin Cities so she is still in the business.

  8. Doug Johnson Says:

    JD… What are you saying… Crittendon and McKelvy got married… to each other????

    Holy Smokes indeed.

  9. Joe,

    When I left WREG and went to WMC-5 in 1997 I was amazed at all of the talent and other positions types that never had a “Plan B”. Now mind you I was not the typical reporter. Though I was very good at working my sources and my news territory, I never thought being a a reporter was rocket science. I wasn’t a good writer (that really shows now that I have to write print in our magazine!) but on the ground I felt I was good. Breaking news, kicked butt, most times. Why? Because of the ability to multi-task. Fly myself to scenes or locations, shoot & edit, do live shots, do sat shots, do on air weather, etc. In short economical and I was a straight 1099 employee in those last 7 years. The stations never had to pay taxes on me and they didn’t have to pay health insurance, etc. It was an economical way to do business even back then when times were good. ANYONE, wanting to stay in the business needs to be able to do as many things as possible. (Think you have mentioned that here before)

    But, more than that, have a total Plan B and an exit plan. Joe – Yvette and I sold drinking jars and mason jars on the internet to get out of the news business, eventually move to Virginia, and then start our own magazine. We do all of the stories now that news directors would never think of letting you do. We saw where TV News was headed and we saw the type of people making the decisions at the top. We’d ask friends and colleagues back then what they would do if it all fell through, none of them, not one could tell us something outside of TV News, scary.

    Years later it’s become even more important than ever. I would always choose working for myself over any corporation these days, there is no loyalty and you will be the first to go when times get tough, like now.

    Yes, it can be challenging when you do your own thing, but it’s your decision, good or bad, not some CFO in a corporate office miles away.

  10. Jack Church Says:

    Joe I have been preaching this for several years now and so many folks in television news operations remain in denial. I still remember a GM of mine when I was doing weather giving me some great advice. He looked at me and said “You do a great job on the weather but check around the dial and count how many 60 year old guys are still doing weather”. I was 40 when he made that point and still believe it was great advice. It led me into TV sales and later vendor sales which has helped keep food on the table and roof over my families head. Sure, there are still a few Dave Browns around the world but even many of the so called “face” of the stations are being shown the door. I still keep my hand in weather doing some radio forecasting but my bread and butter as you know is selling automation which like it or not usually means some folks will be sent to pasture. I love what the financial guru Dave Ramsey says, “You show me someone that knows how to get out of the cave, go kill something and drag and it back and I’ll show you someone that has a plan for survival”.

  11. joelarkins Says:

    I wanted to add one other person to your list of people who have left the “dark side”. That would be Mr. Doug Johnson, who after having spent time in radio in Columbus, Ohio and then earned his chops in small market TV stations in Wyoming (may have been the only African-American in that market back in the day), South Mississippi, and Florida before moving to WREG Memphis where he was a general assignment reporter, then medical reporter, then manager before moving to WTVF Nashville as a manager then on to Atlanta where he went from a local station to CNN before finally moving back to Memphis to work for Fred Smith and Company.

  12. Former Fox 13'er Says:

    I worked in TV News for 10 years (so not quite the grizzled vet), but I recently took a position with a public school system in Oklahoma. Work as the Video Production Manager. Not quite the ‘excitement’ of news, but real lunch breaks, no fighting to get time off during holidays. Isn’t a bad gig!

  13. Doug J. Says:

    Gracias for the gracious mention Joe. I have to admit though, I never had a Plan B. Once I no longer “felt the love” at CNN, my job search efforts tended to be at local stations. My current situation came only because someone else who had already left news suggested the option.

    I really had a problem imagining myself doing something NOT news related. The saving grace of my current job is that it’s in TV production, so the transition was much easier than it could have been.

  14. The GM Says:

    Once TV is over for me, I plan to write a blog called “Ask the GM”. Not just TV specific but all questions. I’ll provide common sense answers with a hint of sarcasm where needed. I’ll aggregate news items of the day to keep it fresh and folks coming back. Not sure if it’ll be a free, ad-supported site or subscription.

    The GM

  15. joelarkins Says:

    I’m ready to link to it.

  16. JD Says:

    One more time Joe and then I quit! (Promise)
    No Doug! The 2 Pam’s didn’t.

    Anyhow here’s a link to give reason to go to Plan “B”.

  17. Ben Says:

    Joe, I’m nearly 18, and I probably won’t see any of those things in my lifetime either.

    Right now, it’d be a good idea to have a Plan C in addition to a Plan B.

  18. the tall tv guy Says:

    Don’t we all wish we were as wise as Ben at 18???

    (18 is a long time ago for many of us.)

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