Friday, July 08, 2005

Good Thought, Plus A Few Of My Own

The following thought was a comment from an earlier post and while it admittedly got off track, I like it a lot and it makes a lot of sense.

I don't fault anyone for wanting to better themselves. What I do have a problem
with are the people who have their foot out the door before they ever step in.To
those, Peoria is just another stop, but why should the citizens of Peoria be
subjected to newscasts like that? Are Peorians worth less than Chicagoans? Does
it not hurt someone when a reporter in Peoria makes a mistake that embarrasses a
citizen or causes them great emotional or financial distress? Should a reporter
not be concerned with the community because they're only going to be here two
years and get out? Why should Peorians be forced to suffer through
mediocricty?I've chosen to make my home in Peoria. This is only my second market
and I've been here 10 years. My previous shop shut down or else I would probably
still be there. How can you truly care about the community and report fairly and
accurately if your only looking at Peoria as "another step" If your plan is to
someday move on, that's fine as long as your working for what's best for the
community your presently in....not your tape. Market size doesn't mean jack. The
quality of your work means everything whether your in Chicago or or market 212.
If you don't' take pride in your work, your cheating not only your self, but the
viewers who rely on you to give them a fair and ACCURATE report of what's going
on in the community they have chosen to call home.Now, what this has to do with
the original comment, I'm not sure.
As someone else who has made a home here, I couldn't agree more with the sentiment, even though my blog does address things like what you should put on your tape and moving on and even though I still think people should be given a chance (although to be fair, again, I didn't see the cast that seems to have readers up in arms, so I don't want to debate that anymore).

A friend of mine got to a big market after making a huge jump and we were talking about it. He is a talented, confident reporter, but he was telling me how he was kind of nervous for the first time in a while because it was a big market to which I said,

"How many cameras are they going to be shooting you with?"

"One", he replied.

What I was trying to convey was that the people on the other side are the same. There might be more of them, but that doesn't change what you're trying to accomplish. The anonymous commenter makes a great point. The people of Central Illinois deserve solid newscasts as much as people in Chicago or anywhere else. Only thing is I'm not sure that people being concerned with their next move is directly related to mediocrity. The biggest problem is money. The reporters... the people charged with gathering the news and telling stories and becoming part of the community can't generally afford to stay.

When I started at WMBD in 1996, I was making $400 a week. That's $20,800 a year. From what I hear, some reporters are doing better, some aren't. I have no idea for sure (and keep in mind I write this feeling that reporters who make huge sums of money will struggle to stay in touch with most of their viewers). Anyway, I'm not saying money is everything, but I would guess most people want more than what that kind of money will provide. This is why while some people take issue with WEEK (and to a certain extent WMBD) for placing such a value on home grown talent, consider the fact that if it is home, it keeps people from viewing it as "just another stop." And people might take less money to be near family.

Yes, as previously posted, I knew someone who once told me "I'm not here to make friends" the week he got to Peoria. This person did pretty much everything possible to reject being here and it wasn't suprising when he got fired, so I get the commenter's point. But I do think for the most part that the people currently in our market are giving their best efforts for fair and accurate reporting.

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