Have you ever had a snarky news director say, “if you don’t like it…leave! I have people knockin’ down the door to get in and take your job.” Well, not anymore.
In broadcast journalism right now, there are advertisements everywhere for open jobs. News directors need producers and reporters. They need MMJ’s and digital content managers. They need executive producers and assignment managers. Some are calling it the great exodus or the great resignation. People are quitting the low paying, time-demanding, high stress jobs and finding other things to do with their lives. It’s a real shame, but the people who run the newsrooms and their bosses are causing it.
The business of journalism is changing but many of the people who run the business are not. They are still running the newsrooms and stations the same way. The people working for them have been forced to change drastically and are shouldering the brunt of the burden. Now many are “knockin’ down the door” to get out!
So, I must tell you a story about a recent negotiation for a news manager position. The offer was made. The negotiator countered, asking for a little more. Not a lot, but enough to make the incoming manager happy and ready to go to work. The corporate manager said, “No”. It was an emphatic no. He told the agent and the general manager that there would be no consideration of more money and that if the candidate, (the one the company chose to lead their newsroom,) didn’t like it, they would pull the offer and move on. He said, “we have plenty of other candidates ready to take the job for that money.” It was a lie.
Now, think about that. This is a newsroom that needs a strong, forward-thinking leader to grow and mentor a typically young staff. It’s a newsroom, like all newsrooms, that needs energetic leadership. How will that happen if corporate leaders who do the hiring are always looking for the lowest common denominator? If the candidate decides to just take the smaller offer, do you think he/she will be motivated to go the extra mile to make the room successful? Sure, they will try but as soon as it gets rough, the words of the corporate boss will ring, “if you don’t like it, we will find someone else.” Also, as soon as the PR job in town paying $150,000 comes available, they are gone!
The real problem also is there IS no one else. People are not breaking down doors to work for less than they should to do more than they should with unreasonable expectations and no budget. Read that sentence again. That is the problem in a nutshell. Despite the erosion of the broadcast news audience and the abandonment of the older demographic (where the money is), corporate media types stuck their head farther in and up “you know where” and are refusing to listen to the middle managers or the professionals who make the tv stations and digital platforms work every day. They are the ones who know how to fix this.
So, how does this get fixed? I suggest there is one thing. It’s a simple thing. Eventually there will have to be money and resources invested to repair the damage, but first just “listen”. It seems corporate managers are refusing to listen to those who manage and work in the nation’s newsrooms. Listen to those people! They are on the front lines! If they say they need more money, find out if they are telling the truth. Don’t just dismiss them and pretend that your company is well and healthy and growing. Listen and act. It costs nothing to listen and analyze and ponder and consider. Right now, those who make those decisions are refusing to listen.
In the negotiating example I used in this article, the story ends with the company middle manager pleading with his corporate boss to give him just a little more to get the newsroom leader they want and need. Instead of listening, the middle manager got an angry and rude rebuttal along with an emphatic “no” with no explanation. That is not listening. It’s not leading. It’s not managing.
So, now instead of #thegreatresignation, let’s make this hashtag go viral in the broadcast and digital news world. #listenandletsgrowtogether