Time once again for our annual warning to those leaving the hallowed halls of higher education for the world of broadcasting. You can get your life started! Keep those rose colored glasses on because everyone is wonderful and decent and your first station will provide Disney bluebirds to do your laundry. And surely those people offering jobs wouldn't lie, would they?
Sorry, but when hiring entry level people many News Directors turn into married men at a singles bar. Nothing is off the table when it comes to the con job they'll pull on trusting young people. Some make politicians look like amateurs.
I'm not trying to scare you kids, but simply warn you that you're about to enter a minefield filled with people who, should they ever go to confession, will rack up enough Hail Marys as penance to keep them tied up praying for a week. Sorry, but not everyone has your best interests at heart.
Luckily I'm here to expose the tricks of these ne'er-do-wells and hopefully spare you from two years of agony.
So, in no particular order, here are some of the greatest lies told to new graduates.
-"We'll start you out as a producer and eventually move you into reporting." This one's right up there with, "My wife doesn't understand me and I'm getting ready to divorce her so we can run away together."
This is the classic bait and switch designed to fill holes in the staff. The most common are the "producer to reporter" track and the "reporter to anchor" track. Trust me, if you start as a producer, you'll likely never see a day as a reporter. And then, how do you make a reporting tape to get out?
-"You don't need to have a lawyer read that contract." Which of course means you sure as hell do need to have a lawyer read that contract. If a manager tries to talk you out of legal advice, that's because there's something bad in the contract that a lawyer would find.
-"You have to sign right now or I'll give the job to someone else." Any decent manager out there will give someone time to sleep on an offer. Any manager who doesn't isn't decent.
-"Our company doesn't give outs." Do a little research, and chances are you'll find someone in the company who has an out clause.
-"We don't need to put that in writing." Selective memory is a common disease among managers. Six months down the road you'll remind him that he promised to make you an anchor and for some reason he can't seem to remember doing that.
-"You might have to pick up a camera once in awhile." Look around the newsroom. If there are seven reporters and one photog, chances are "once in awhile" will be every day.
-"We have big plans for you." (See married men in singles bar technique above.)
-"We only do three year contracts." Too bad, because you only sign two year deals. No rookie needs to sign a three year deal. And chances are there are people in the company who have two year deals.
There are of course other lies regarding moving expense, makeup and hair allowances, and putting you up while you find a place to live. Just keep in mind that you're entering the real world, and sadly, there are a lot of people out there who will take advantage of you.
As Bruce Willis would say, "Welcome to the party, pal."