Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mailbag: Does the new guy in town carry a hatchet?


We just got a new ND who called a staff meeting on his first day and assured us that all our jobs are safe. Should I believe this, or is this a standard tactic?

-On eggshells

Dear Eggshells,

Well, obviously if you're a new manager you don't want people worrying about their jobs, so this is a pretty standard line for those first day speeches. Whether the ND is telling the truth or not is another story.

I remember going thru this once when I was a reporter. The old guy loved my stuff, the new guy hated it. I moved on.

The best thing for you to do is get your resume tape updated (and out of the building) in case the new guy goes thru the newsroom with a chainsaw. You'll probably be able to get a good read on things shortly. You can also call up his previous station and ask whoever answers what kind of person your new boss is.

Having been on both sides of the fence, I can tell you that it is impossible to like all the people you've inherited. Just like a baseball team, a new manager wants to eventually put together his or her own lineup.

If you should become a target of the "make him miserable so he'll quit" tactic, you'll know where you stand.


How exactly does an "out clause" work?

-New Kid

Dear New Kid,

Glad you asked, since many young people have never even heard the term.

Let's say your first job is in market 80 and you've signed a two year contract with no outs. 18 months into the contract, a station from market 39 calls and offers you a job. You can't take it. But if you have a "top 40 out" you can leave (according to the terms of your contract) to take a job in any of the top 40 markets. Such cases may require you to give a month's notice, or only allow this in the last few months of a contract.

Always, always, always have a lawyer look at a contract before signing. Every contract is different. And remember, outs are rarely offered... you have to ask.

Grape Man,

I keep sending out reporting tapes and getting offered producers jobs with the promise to move into reporting. What does this sound like to you?


Dear Confused,

Sounds an awful lot like "the check is in the mail."

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