I ran into Josephine* as I filled my plate with bagels and fruit at a church breakfast last Sunday. More like, she ran into me, her big hair and presence naturally commanding attention when she tardily walked into the room.
“Oh, heyyy!” she shouted. Then we hugged and swapped compliments, the typical.
It had been almost three years since I’d seen her last, volunteering as a production assistant and sometimes host of Daytime while I worked at Rogers TV. Josephine was a seasoned reporter and anchor, though. But it had taken her a while to get back into the swing of things in Canada. You see, she worked in the 80s and 90s as a journalist in Kingston, Jamaica. The pretty face of (the former) JBC. After she left, the money was slow-ish. There were various hosting duties at Rogers TV, a job reading the news on G98.7 FM, and, most recently, she was a reporter at a radio station in Barbados.
To the budding journalist, this resume is impressive – especially with all the travel she’s done. But to Josephine, it wasn’t enough. I nearly dropped the knife plastered with cream cheese when she said, “I’m now in sales. I love it!”
More and more, this has become the real story. Newsies all around me are just up and quitting – and switching careers. I recently connected, through the powers of social media, with a former news anchor in California. She’s loud and proud of her new business in the flower industry.
Many of my ex-colleagues in television are either leaving or actively looking. So, what gives?
My new Cali friend said it best when she tweeted, “Life isn’t black and white.” There are so many shades of grey: benefits, vacation time, schedule, and work-life balance. Leaving the comfort of a big brand is not about salaries. It’s not even about a fancy office.
It’s about taking control of your own destiny.
Media companies – or any company seeking to hold on to talent these days – would be wise to remember that. Entrepreneurs wake up in the morning in control of their decisions and the consequences. That control doesn’t guarantee success. But it creates a sort of excitement, satisfaction and motivation that some find harder and harder to get from a traditional journalism job.
Don’t get me wrong, the reporter life is and always will be the dream for many, like me, who survived J-school. Family time helped make my choice to put the TV news life on a hard pause. That, and a longing for “something more” – whatever “something more” meant. I get asked all the time whether I miss it, and the answer is yes. It’s an adrenaline rush like no other. But, for now, I choose to quench my thirst for news and writing in other ways.
As for Josephine, she says she’s finished with journalism. Now that there’s a vacant reporter gig in Barbados…excuse me while I update my CV and apply.
*name changed for privacy reasons