I am a journalist who has worked for local TV news stations for the past 8 years. I have worked in the Midwest, West Coast and East Coast, covering everything from naturaI disasters & riots to business profiles and human interest stories. I'm leaving the industry for a new career that will allow me to focus on my family and personal life.

Proof: https://imgur.com/a/H6yg2B7

Edit: thanks for the questions everybody! I gotta ready for one of my few remaining shifts!

Comments: 452 • Responses: 47  • Date: 

bejonesin309 karma

How healthy is the industry from an insider perspective? Would you attribute the rating to incentive alignment, personality, ownership, other?

HurricaneBatman759 karma

A very large part of why I'm leaving is because of the toxicity in nearly every newsroom (Edit: 3/4 that I have worked in). Unfortunately as the medium continues to become obsolete, management has become more desperate and takes it out on staff. Combine this with shrinking salaries (I qualified for food stamps in my first market) and the public's general hatred for "the media", and what we’re now seeing is a mass exodus from the industry. My current station has seen somewhere around 60% turnover in the past two years, and is just straight up not getting applicants for open positions.

bejonesin20 karma

Do you see any way to salvage or better to burn it down and hope something better fills the void?

Crazy to hear how poorly you were paid and agreed the public scapegoating, while deserved by some (24/7 cable news), it has been dished out too broadly.

HurricaneBatman179 karma

It's really no different than any of the other businesses suffering right now. Pay livable wages, increase benefits, and stop treating people like shit. Other than that, I dont see a way out for these companies.

As for the general public hating us, yes it's pretty frustrating. In the course of the past 2 years:

  • I've been harassed/threatened about once a month

  • was tear gassed by police while covering protests

  • was screamed at by the same people whose protest I was covering

  • heard people say disgusting and disturbing things to female reporters I work with

It's not all bad though, at the end of the year, we were all given a 1% raise and a $20 Amazon gift card

SpecialistAdfdff26 karma


HurricaneBatman70 karma

I'm a photojournalist, so I typically handle all of the video, audio, lighting, interview setting, graphic production, and editing. I normally get assigned a reporter who conducts the interviews and writes the script, but occasionally work solo and take on those duties as well

bitparity161 karma

Ex newspaper and wire journalist here. We used to joke that TV news just read the morning paper for their story ideas. Once newspapers collapsed, where did y'all get your stories? :)

HurricaneBatman190 karma

Buzzfeed of course! But seriously most stories pitched in the morning meeting come from reporters calling on their local beats, looking through local meeting agendas, viewer tips, and just plain investigating things they want to know the answer to

wypipobooty54122 karma

Did you ever notice producers trying to push certain political agendas on yourself or your coworkers?

HurricaneBatman236 karma

Honestly, no not really. I've worked with producers who had strong opinions of course, but on the rare occasions where they didn't separate it from their shows they were shot down by the rest of the staff.

I think it gets misrepresented by Hollywood, but producers actually arent that high on the totem pole in a newsroom. They sit pretty equally with the reporters and photographers

wypipobooty5448 karma

I work in television and the producers tend to have an air of arrogance on set, but with a relatively small news team I can see it being tough to push certain agendas on you guys. Thanks for the input!

HurricaneBatman25 karma

Hope all is well at your station! I've known a few producers with big egos, but I havent seen many succeed past their own little bubble. The ones that really thrive have been those that trust their crews in the field and listen to input

rofopp10 karma

Obviously never worked for Sinclair

HurricaneBatman80 karma

I did for a little bit actually! The "must run" segments were obviously heavily biased, but as their name implies it wasnt a choice to run them. The actual local staff were very professional (with the exception of the control room, but thats just because of all the cursing)

doomdoggie103 karma

What are you going to do next?

HurricaneBatman220 karma

I'm moving into a public communications role! I'm excited because it should be a lot less stressful and give me more free time to spend with family, while still letting me serve my community

JelloForElPresidente16 karma

public communications

Can someone explain what this is to me? Like, what would someone be doing in this line of work?

HurricaneBatman8 karma

Looks like I didn't phrase it right since people thought I meant PR. It's a public state level government job, doing promo work for education initiatives. I'll do my best to avoid making propaganda

Fakezaga80 karma

How did local news change in the time you worked on it?

I was a reporter 2004-2008. It was just the beginning of social media. I had to file one story and one promo a day (basically a 30-45 second look-live on the days’ story.) From what I can tell looking from the outside, nowadays reporters have to file a pak, a promo, an online piece and live tweet all day. It must be exhausting!

HurricaneBatman112 karma

I think the biggest change has been the pace at which stories develop. Especially with anything regarding Covid, you basically have to check in with your sources one more time before air because the facts that are known could have changed in the past few hours. IMO, this has been a big reason why so many people don't trust news and science reports about the virus. And I don't have any solutions for how to fix that

WestMichigander50 karma

Hi! Thanks for doing this AMA.

I'm curious if you have an optimistic outlook on the future of media, not just broadcast, but also smaller outlets which are being either shut down or monopolized. Part of the downfall can be attributed to social media which some say is in its awkward adolescence. Do you agree?


HurricaneBatman91 karma

For broadcast specifically, no I don't. Owners/management are too unwilling to adapt to do anything but survive and who knows for how long.

As far as social media, I think we are seeing the start of how things will be from now on, and that's exciting! There will always be a need for people to know what's going on in the world, and having more voices provide that info should be a good thing. The trick is getting the audience to listen to more than just one of those voices so they can make their own opinions and not be manipulated

bigjoeystud46 karma

Did you work at a Sinclair news station? I remember when that super cut of all the Sinclair stations having their local anchor all say the same thing and wonder how that went down from someone on the inside? I mean, how did they ask you all to do it? It was super creepy to see.

HurricaneBatman67 karma

I worked at a Sinclair station for a brief stint, but it wasnt when that all went down. Looking at it from another station though, it was cringy af, and we could all tell the anchors hated it.

One of those supercuts comes out about every 6 months, usually they run on a late night comedy show with all of the anchors making the same stupid pun about bees or whatever. That Sinclair one though... oof

jn-indianwood26 karma

Is the pay really that terrible?

HurricaneBatman48 karma

I qualified for food stamps at my first job

LegoMyAlterEgo19 karma

Who is your Journalistic Idol, and why is it Charlie LaDuff?

HurricaneBatman42 karma

Haha LeDuff is definitely an interesting character. Personally, I think Lester Holt and David Muir have done some good work in recent years. My all time favorite though is Boyd Huppert. He is an amazing storyteller, and I highly recommend watching some of his work!

GopherInWI14 karma

Former photojournalist, now producer here. One, thank you for doing this.

What's the story(s) that stuck with you?

HurricaneBatman31 karma

Live truck chauffeurs unite! A lot of them honestly have swirled together over 8 years, but the ones that are very distinct to me:

  • helping a woman get a kidney transplant

  • an insanely large fire at a recycling plant

  • an earthquake that entailed 72 straight hours of coverage (we were able to sleep in 4 hour shifts each night)

  • a stroke survivor who essentially taught himself to walk again through sheer force of will

GopherInWI3 karma

Awesome! And cool that have the live truck skill in you, are you still raising the mast or are you completely on LiveU/Dejero at this point too?

HurricaneBatman7 karma

Almost entirely on LiveU at this point. Microwave & Satellite are quickly becoming legacy skills. Which is weird to say since I am not an industry vet by any definition

AdamInChainz14 karma

Advice for a professional (not a media professional) that's morbidly afraid to speak in front of people?

It's held me back from leadership / promotions.

HurricaneBatman34 karma

I'm a photojournalist by trade, so I actually share that fear! I once discussed it with an anchor who also has stage fright (go figure), and her trick to not freezing up was to focus entirely on the message you're communicating rather than how it's received.

eltostito19114 karma

Did you shoot and edit your own stories or did you work with a photographer/videographer?

HurricaneBatman16 karma

I'm a photojournalist, so I typically handle all of the video, audio, lighting, interview setting, graphic production, and editing. I normally get assigned a reporter who conducts the interviews and writes the script, but occasionally work solo and take on those duties as well

AND_itsGONE12 karma

If you had unlimited power to actually be a journalist what would be the top 10 things you would extensively cover with 1 being the most important to you?

HurricaneBatman40 karma

Idk about top 10, but top 3 would be

  1. Wage/housing shortages. This needs way more critical coverage than the typical hand wringing "woe is us" stories.

  2. Local government accountability. Everyone wants to hear about the president, but it's far more likely that your local city council member is the one embezzling your tax money

  3. Human interest. These don't necessarily have to be about Little Timmy and his lemonade stand. I've done some pieces that I think made a real impact but weren't typical "hard news". We once ran a story about a woman who needed a kidney transplant, and it inspired a stranger to donate theirs!

CanisSirius12 karma

Thank you for your time and insight! You've mentioned how the industry isn't willing to change with the times and social media being the way of the future. What are your views of how the NEW media paradigm might contend with not having the financial capacity to fund international travel expenses let alone salaries for actual properly trained, un-biased, trusted journalists in the field for important international coverage like old media has had for decades?

HurricaneBatman26 karma

One of the advantages of new technology is that its no longer really necessary to have big travel budgets like that. We work with other outlets from across the globe to get the information and video needed for our shows. So those funds would be far better spent paying for staff with experience and high quality gear

0ddprim311 karma

What should someone know before deciding to change their career an go IN to television broadcasting?

HurricaneBatman36 karma

You will hear a lot of people talk about how you really have to LOVE journalism to make it work as a career. While I think you should at least enjoy that aspect, I would say it's more important to enjoy the storytelling aspect and focus on honing your craft. Some of best work I've ever done was accomplished in very stressful situations. All because I focused on telling a great story

HurricaneBatman30 karma

As a follow-up if you do the job for a year or two and decide it's not for you, the skills you gain will be highly transferable and in demand from other companies. Communication, writing, time management, and media training are great things to have in your pocket

Rellgidkrid5 karma

Very true about the storytelling aspect. Beyond that, these days many TV News reporters need to also be able to shoot their own stories and possibly (probably) edit them, too. This is part of those budgets you talked about before but also because the technology has made it so much easier to turn a story without several people having to be involved (photogs, editors, live truck operators, etc… one person can do all of that quite easily, although it’s still a bit of a time suck to have to do it yourself).

HurricaneBatman2 karma

This is very true, and I'm really glad to not have had to edit on tape! It feels like their is a human limit to how much can be accomplished by one person that management doesnt want to acknowledge. If with great equipment and lightning fast laptops, one MMJ just cant turn around the same quality/quantity of content as a crew. Days when I have a reporter with me are exponentially easier than solo days

jett202210 karma

How much do local news anchors make? How about the weather and traffic correspondents? And what about the reporters in the field?

HurricaneBatman35 karma

Its highly dependent on the market size, but typically the Anchors make the most, followed by meteorologists, and then reporters/photographers/producers. In really small markets, they might all be the same person!

To answer your question, I know that the lead anchor at my first job (market size 120-140) made 70k. The lead anchor at my current place (top 25) is somewhere around 200k. Reporters normally make 1/3 of the anchors salary

ChiggyBiggyG8 karma

Which hurricane stole your parents from you?

HurricaneBatman28 karma

Hurricane Joker. Quite devastating, but of course the media didn't report it /s

ThatsUnexpectd8 karma

As the news has appeared to become a profit seeking medium, do you think that the shift in how news is reported (whether it be perceived political bias, or the intentional sensationalizing of specific stories and narratives etc) has been a large or small contribution towards peoples opinion them? Concurrently, do you think such things (if they are happening) has contributed to the idea that news media is becoming less about information and more about point of view?

HurricaneBatman22 karma

This maybe isnt the answer you were hoping for, but news has always been a profit seeking medium. The other options are state run television (yikes) and non-profit outlets. There are a few of the latter scattered around, and they do good investigative work, but they dont get the resources needed to do daily current events coverage.

As for opinion driven news, that is largely perpetrated by cable news. Unfortunately, it's also the thing that people watch most. If people truly want to see better content, they need to give their attention to the sources that produce it

ParadoxInferno775 karma

Did you meet anyone famous? If so who?

HurricaneBatman8 karma

Nobody that I would really call a celebrity, but it's pretty common to interview elected officials frequently enough to be on a first name basis. Mostly governors and state senators though, nobody huge

Erasmus865 karma

As more younger people cut the cord, what do you think the future of broadcast news is? My understanding is that the demographics of broadcast news' audience is pretty old.

HurricaneBatman17 karma

I think if local outlets want to survive, they need to radically adapt to pursuing digital content first. Almost nobody is waiting around to sit on their couch and watch the daily news at 5pm on the dot

eclmwb3 karma

Is it true that stimulants are a norm in the industry? I heard it's quite common. Would like to know if thats true or not!

HurricaneBatman6 karma

Not in my experience, unless you are including a coffee and cigarettes

Can_of_Sounds3 karma

What was the most surprising thing about your job?

HurricaneBatman4 karma

How easy it is to become desensitized to the things you see. I've been really lucky to work with reporters who are passionate and its sort of an unspoken agreement that you have to keep each other grounded while out in the field

Go_J3 karma

Is there anything that can be done to educate the public about what local journalists actually do? We tend to get viewed the same as the blowhards you see on cable TV "news."

HurricaneBatman6 karma

Ive pitched an idea a few times about running a segment to explain one aspect of news coverage each week! Never been taken seriously though

ScrubbyDoubleNuts2 karma

Hi, thank you for doing this. I am very close with a reporter in DC and we were college roommates. He has always told me that alcoholism is a rampant problem in broadcast journalism. Has this been your experience and can you shed any light on why that may be?

HurricaneBatman5 karma

Not personally, but yes it can be a problem. We are often right behind police/EMS arriving to a scene, and witness some grisly stuff. On top of that, reading detailed reports or talking with victims is emotionally exhausting in itself. Some people cope with a bad day by having a drink when they get home. And when you have a solid year of bad days...

[deleted]2 karma


HurricaneBatman12 karma

Certainly not compared to some of the long-timers I've worked with! Those guys are legends, and have upwards of 30 years under their belts.

Relative to today's job market, I think it's a respectable tenure. And definitely enough time to know that I can't continue doing it much longer.

fongaboo2 karma

I just quit the TV news biz after 18 years!

How does life feel now as a civilian? What made you quit? How is your mental health before/after?

I feel like when I started it was an honorable profession but not so much anymore. How do you feel about it?

HurricaneBatman9 karma

Congratulations!!! Im not out quite yet, but really looking forward to it. Going to a public communications role so I can still work with the community in some capacity.

I started looking for a new job a year ago when the company decided that I had earned a .10 raise for all my hard work (frontline coverage of covid, riots, natural disasters, etc). I took my time with it to find a role that would actually be sustainable in the long term.

Weirdly enough, I still truly believe in the core mission of news outlets and have a lot of respect for the people choosing to stick it out. It just isn't something I can personally maintain anymore

Granny_knows_best2 karma

Do you feel you are restricted at what you can report? You dont really hear about bad things the 1% do like 50 years ago. I always feel its because the 1% have bought up all the news outlets and have a say in what gets reported.

HurricaneBatman13 karma

I've never felt that way. The few times we dont get to report something is usually because we cant get confirmation of it.

I'm surprised you feel that way about the 1%, im constantly seeing stuff about whatever crappy thing a rich person did that day. I dont think a criminal investigation into the British royal family wouldve been possible in the 70s

Iwantbubbles1 karma

When do was in school (admittedly a very long time ago) I had a communications professor give a lecture on journalism as a profession. It was heavily stressed that a journalist had to be neutral in their opinions and just report the facts. Obviously in this day and age that has fallen by the wayside.

When do you think that journalists started to be biased? Was it ever true that they were neutral?

HurricaneBatman7 karma

I dont think cable news has ever been neutral, it is just not in their business model.

IamNotTheMama1 karma

Is your job as a journalist to report the news or make news?

HurricaneBatman8 karma

As much as I enjoyed Nightcrawler as a movie, it's not very accurate to reality

lazedays1 karma

Were you asked to sign an NDA related to news topics upon your departure from the industry?

HurricaneBatman3 karma

Haha no, journalists are pretty notorious for giving out information even when it would make other people mad

jsphjar1 karma

What company? My contact ends in May and I'll be with ya

HurricaneBatman2 karma

Congrats! Hope you find something fulfilling on the other side!

wcarlaso1 karma

Which one rules? West coast or east coast?

HurricaneBatman2 karma

Both have their perks. I like to travel a lot, so seeing both has been a great experience.

frillytotes-1 karma

I have worked in the Midwest, West Coast and East Coast

Of which countries?

HurricaneBatman0 karma

My bad, in the US

gianpo-2 karma

Why is the news media so easily manipulated into slanting everything in a conservative narrative?

HurricaneBatman0 karma

So, I guess the first thing is to identify what you mean by "news media". There are definitely outlets that lean hard right. But there are also left leaning outlets. Ironically, my colleagues and I have been accused of both, sometimes on the same story!

IPmang-8 karma

Why are US journalists so unwilling to confront the fact that US media is in bed with one specific political party and do them every possible favour?

It's one thing to do it so shamelessly, but most journalists I've come across won't even admit it's the truth, like they really believe they're professional and unbiased...

What's up with that?

HurricaneBatman7 karma

Sorry you feel that way. Sounds like you've made up your mind.

I would recommend you shop around for news amongst your different local outlets. You may find more variety than whats provided by cable news

Maintown-16 karma

How much of your leaving is to do with all the misinformation? Most of the media nowadays,especially since COVID, is full of lies and manipulation. Basically news media now is just propaganda for the radical left and any real journalists are shoved aside and silenced. Sad thing is people actually listen to the news to find out what’s going on and get real information, though that doesn’t happen anymore. Cheers to you though and I hope you find and get what you are looking for!

HurricaneBatman5 karma

Im sorry you feel that way. All I can say is that at the specific stations Ive worked for, we worked to give factual info and never started a story with any preconceived notions of what it would become