Friday, September 14, 2012

Mailbag: No job offers despite great work


I'm at a loss and at the end of my rope. I've been searching for a new job for a year and while I've gotten great response to my tape, I've had no offers and no interviews. I've received very nice comments, that's it. My boss loves my work, I've won awards, reporters I know in big markets say I'm turning out excellent stuff. And I'm not just asking friends for feedback.

I'm a team player, never cause trouble in the newsroom, a decent human being. There are no skeletons in my closet.

So why haven't I found a job?

Well, this won't make you feel better, but you're not alone. There are a lot of talented people out there who are struggling to find a new job. Talent without success can be frustrating and make you want to pull your hair out. What's even more frustrating is seeing someone with less talent who has a better job than you do.

You haven't found a job simply because the timing wasn't right, the NDs who loved you didn't have the appropriate opening, you didn't fit the demographic they were looking for, they couldn't afford you, they wanted someone local, the GM overruled them, etc.

Just about every successful person out there was rejected at some point for some reason. And here's the one thing I want you to take from this: those rejections often have nothing to do with talent.

Harry Potter was rejected by twelve publishers (who are now kicking themselves.) Just an example of talent needing to find the right home. Next time you talk to one of those people in big markets, ask them how many times they were rejected. You might be surprised to find that success is often a long and winding road. There are many roads you can take to get home; some people just have to travel a little longer. Hang in there.


Our sweeps idea meeting is next week. I know you put out a list of obviously sarcastic sweeps ideas every year, but how about putting out a real list for November? Little help?

I'll take it under advisement. Though the sarcasm gene is dominant in my case.

Dear Grapevine,

Just wondering if you ever worked as a one-man-band.

Nope. We didn't have those back in the day.

I did grab a camera and tried to shoot a fire once when there were no photogs available.  But I "reverse rolled"... which means the tape was rolling when I thought it was paused and vice versa. Got some excellent video of my feet.

I was blessed to work with many talented photogs, and wish most of you could enjoy the same experience.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Why the idiot at the next desk makes more money than you

Here's the thing about hiring people: it's a lot like dating. As a manager, you're going on first impressions. While a resume tape shows talent and/or potential, it's the interview that can tell you a lot about a person.

Or not.

Interviews are like first dates. We're all on our best behavior. Best clothes, hair looking perfect, saying the right things. A manager has a few hours to decide if the person sitting across from him is the right one for the job.

And many times, managers are wrong.

Trust me, I've been fooled by people who were great interviews then turned out to be the opposite of the total package I thought I was hiring. I remember one young lady who appeared to be the ultimate team player during the interview. After I hired her, she turned out to be the ultimate drama queen who did nothing but stir the pot in the newsroom and cause me massive headaches.

Point is, you never know what an employee will be like until they're actually working in your shop.

Which brings us to the crash dummy working at the next desk. Every station has one of these. The person who is the laziest in the newsroom, has little talent, and doesn't bother with all that "team player" stuff. And this person makes more than you do.

Several years ago I was working at a station and a reporter made an incredible discovery. He went to make a copy and found that someone had left the station budget in the machine. Which contained all the salaries. (This has happened at plenty of stations.) Naturally, this news made the rounds and caused a lot of hurt feelings when people found out the hardest working staffers were making the least money.

How does this happen? Why does a News Director pay someone who is incompetent more money than you when you're the ultimate team player who consistently knocks out great stories?

A lot of it goes back to that interview.

Let's say I hired you as a reporter for 30 thousand. I've got another reporter opening and this candidate knocks my socks off. She's got a great tape and nailed the interview. She's already making 35 thousand, so I can't offer her what I offered you. So I offer her 38.

Or that same candidate has less experience than you but has other offers. I find out another station is offering her 35. I realize she has less experience, but I'm banking on her potential, so I offer her more.

Or I simply see a future star for the station, someone who can be my main anchor someday. She's got a great tape and I know she'll get other offers, so I make a preemptive strike and offer her more money than I'm paying you.

Now think back to the day you took the job. You may have been happy to get 30k, you may have been desperate, you may have been a bad negotiator. Maybe the ND liked you but you didn't knock his socks off during the interview. Maybe the ND didn't see your potential or team player attitude.

At every station there are salary discrepancies. There's always something that isn't fair. Just don't let it drive you crazy. All things being equal, people aren't.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The souls of 9/11 want media people to remember 9/12

I'm speculating here, but I imagine there are several conversations going on in heaven about the state of affairs in America.

The nearly three thousand souls of 9/11: firemen, cops, waiters, bankers, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, now all working as angels, probably look down at the ceremonies today and wonder if the memories will actually take hold. Or if we've really forgotten what things were like in the days after the attack eleven years ago.

The day after their arrival in heaven they looked down and saw a country united for the first time in a long time. They saw Democrats and Republicans working together. They saw media people unable to control their emotions, wearing their hearts on their sleeves, without an agenda.

They remember that amidst the grief and suffering and anger, 9/12 was one of the best days in America because we were all united.

And maybe they knew they hadn't died in vain.

Today those angels look down and see a country more divided than ever, as split as the nation was during the Vietnam era. Maybe even more. They see Congress so polarized it can't agree on anything. That's not the worst thing they see. They see media people taking sides, objectivity thrown out the window, doing their part to split the country even more. Dividing those who stood together on 9/12.

They hope those who cover the events of 9/11 today will remember 9/12, and check their opinions and agendas at the door.

That's the best way to honor the souls of 9/11.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Fact checkers: they used to be called "reporters"

During the past two weeks we've heard a lot of speeches and interviews from a lot of politicians. As we all know, many politicians will say just about anything to get elected. The term "spin" originated in politics, referring to the ability to tailor facts in such a way as to reinforce your position. Politicians have raised this to an art form; if we were suddenly attacked by aliens from outer space, Republicans would find a way to blame it on Obama while Democrats would tie the invasion to the Bush administration.

Lately, though, we've seen many reporters from big markets and networks use opinions from "fact checkers" in their coverage. When Obama says one thing in a political ad and Romney says the opposite, who's telling the truth? Many reporters have fact checkers on speed dial to find out.

Excuse me if I missed something on day one of Journalism 101... but aren't reporters in the business of checking facts? When did we become like American corporations and start outsourcing this basic duty? Am I to pick up the phone and call some guy in India to find out if some politician is lying in a television commercial?

And here are some important "facts" to consider about fact checkers: How do you know the fact checkers are credible? How do you know the fact checkers don't have an agenda of their own? And did you ever notice that Republican fact checkers often differ from Democratic fact checkers?

Finally, if you're a real reporter, why in the world would you trust someone else to check the facts for your story?

Politicians can spin the truth in the same way that Hollywood accountants can tell you that Star Wars lost money. It's up to you to dig up the facts and present them to the audience. When you rely on someone else to do you work for you, you may as well turn in your notebook and go home.

And if you want to do a really unique story for the first week of sweeps, check the facts on the fact checkers. Dig up their backgrounds, find out if they have an agenda, discover who funds them. Those are the kind of facts I'd like to know.