Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Quitting on live TV: or, why you should have your desk cleaned out before giving notice

Recently a pair of Maine co-anchors decided to quit during a live newscast. The video made the rounds and got a lot of attention, probably because the anchors decided to rip management while the little red light was still on.

First, I don't know any of the parties involved or anyone at that station. But there is a definite trickle down effect that affects everyone in the business.

Over the years this is nothing new. People have occasionally gone rogue on their last day and decided to lob a grenade at the boss on the way out the door. While this may or may not be career suicide, it is at least the equivalent of a consultation with the broadcasting version of Doctor Kevorkian. But the result is that other  managers see this, and in the back of their minds think, "This could happen to me." (Of course, if you guys weren't such big meanies you wouldn't have to worry.)

Anyway, the result is that anchors who give notice may be suddenly pulled off the air and turned into reporters for two weeks. Reporters may never see the live truck again. Or you may be unceremoniously shown the door as your two-week notice turns into a two minute notice.

This has happened to me and to a lot of people I know. And it illustrates the importance of an exit strategy when you know you're heading out of town. If you think you might have two weeks to dub off all your good stories, you might find yourself in a tough situation if you can't get into the building.

So, before giving notice, just in case:

-Make dubs of anything you want to keep
-Print out or forward to yourself any emails you might need
-Make sure you have a copy of your list of contacts and phone numbers
-Take anything valuable out of your desk and bring it home

While this might sound paranoid, trust me, I get calls all the time from people who suddenly find themselves locked out with no way to get dubs of their best work. Management can get awfully spiteful when people leave, so make sure you're prepared when you do.

And if you want to go live and have the last word, remember, it might be the last word you ever say on television.


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