Friday, April 18, 2008

Mailbag: Help me, my News Director is Lord Voldemort


Seriously, why are so many News Directors just plain mean? I swear I heard mine speaking in parseltongue. I really like the market I'm in, but this guy is just unbearable. He treats everyone equally... like dogs. Thoughts?


Dear Abused,

Lucky for you I like Harry Potter and got the snake reference. Very subtle. As for your problem, it is a common one, as a nasty manager has driven many a creative person out of the business.

In your case, since you like the market, you might check out the atmosphere at the competition and float a few feelers to see if there's any interest. Chat up the other station's photogs and reporters.

Otherwise, you'll either have to find another job or hope your ND goes somewhere else. Of course, if his predecessor was a jerk, chances are his successor will be as well.

As to why they're mean, my long standing theory is that many are jealous of people who have more talent. The really good News Directors surround themselves with people who are smarter than they are and have different qualities, then appreciate their contributions.


I'm graduating soon, and wanted your advice on how desperate I should be for a reporting job. I've interned at several stations and network bureaus, and experienced a wide-range of work environments in these places. One shop (circa mid-20s market) was a perennially third/fourth-place station with a revolving door of management that seemed to hire young reporters like they were going out of style. While, another station I worked for was number 1 in their market with happy people, seemingly little back-stabbing, great equipment and great management, and a renovated newsroom. If I get offered a job at a place with the environment like the former (from what I can find out from current employees there) should I settle on it just to get more experience for about a year, or am I just opening the door to trouble, misery, and possibly having to lick my wounds when I get out?



Why don't you come to your senses? (Sorry, couldn't resist the obscure Eagles reference.)

Seriously, I'm impressed a young person would use a term like "circa" and write such a concise letter. It is very good that you have gotten more than one look at the business during your internships. Obviously, you'd like to work in a mentoring environment, and one that doesn't send you home every day with enough cutlery in your back to host a dinner party. Stations with too many young people won't offer as much as one with a nice mix of veterans and rookies. And a revolving door is never a good sign. Since you wrote this note to an old person, that shows you're open to suggestion and would probably benefit from a station with experienced staffers.

Of course, this is all assuming you get more than one job offer or are willing to hold out for something good. Since you're a guy and 90 percent of all entry level applicants in news are women, you can pick and choose a little more. If you can go to a happy place where you can be a sponge, it will pay off in the long run.


I'm in my first job. My low salary isn't nearly enough to pay the bills when you add in my student loans. Just curious how you did it when you were a rookie.

-Tapped out

Dear Tapped,

I graduated long ago. Four years of college cost me $5200. That's not a misprint... fifty-two hundred dollars for tuition, room & board, and spending money. Education was cheap back then, so nobody had loans.

But I still struggled on my first salary. I had a second job during the summer as a public address announcer for the local minor league baseball team. My ND was nice enough to adjust my schedule. They paid me (don't laugh) ten bucks a game. But, I got free dinner (hot dog, fries, soda, GooGoo cluster candy bar) and all the between-inning prizes no one claimed. Those were generally coupons for free lunches at various places around town. I basically ate free all summer.

Just get creative. Cut corners, clip coupons, learn to cook. If it really gets bad, marry rich. (Kidding.)

By the way, I literally have not eaten a hot dog since 1984. The GooGoo clusters are another story, however.

Hi Grape,

I'm not really happy with my college resume tape. It needs a little editing and some standups re-shot. I have no access to equipment. Any ideas?


We've touched on this before, but since you missed it, just call the chief photographers at your local stations. Tell him you'd like to hire a shooter to help you. Every station has a few guys who shoot and edit on the side. Most shooters will help you for a reasonable price.

You've got questions, the Grape has answers. Or at least opinions. Send any questions to If you'd like a personal reply that won't be posted on the blog, just make a request in your correspondence.

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