Friday, November 26, 2010

Lifer's Lament

Slinger on ScenePay no attention to the man behind the van. He's only doin' time. Okay, so a twenty year gig in local television ISN'T a prison sentence; those of us with numbers under our necks just like to pretend it is. See, I'm a lifer. I staggered into this silly business two decades ago and haven't worked up enough momentum to stagger out. I'm okay with that. Sure, I've seen many inmates plot their own escape - even helped a few clear the wall. Back in 1993, I myself even bailed. Fed up with being a one-man-band in a thankless bureau, I ignored my gut instinct and took a job pumping out commercial dreck for the man. I hated it and it hated me. So I followed some of the smartest folks I knew to a place called El Ocho. There I found a home where I could write, shoot and edit for a daily wage. Yeah - I thought my news bosses would take one look at my coterie of skills and insist I go back On Air. It did not happen. And as my hair's grown thinner and my glasses thicker, even I've grown less enchanted with my own reflection. So here I stand, a medium market television news photog who's pushing 44. Gimme a minute, will ya? I got to go breathe into a paper sack...

Okay, I'm back. Now, where was I? Oh yeah, teetering on the edge of a corporate stepladder. Honestly, it's a view I'm used to. Why, from way up here I can see the future of TV News and it's a broken, plastic landscape littered with the bones of poor souls like me, who never wised up enough to seek a new horizon. Or maybe that's the past. Truth is, no one knows what local TV news will look like a few years from now. Loyal viewers are dropping like overstuffed houseflies, new gadgets and fewer escudos are taking the team out of team coverage and everywhere you look, people are staring at hand-held screens, chortling at what some neighbor just out on their taco platter. I suppose we gargoyles of the Fourth Estate should continue to squint, cast scary shadows across the land as we fly away, the remains of our once beloved institution crumbling under our stony claws. Well, as my esteemed Father would say, "piss on that."

Honestly, I'm optimistic about the future of TV News. Sure, it's about to shrink, ripple, and remold itself into something new, but can you name another industry more overripe for reform? I can't, but then again, my eyes are a little off from staring at life through a tube all these many moons. But new bifocals aside, I'd say my vision's pretty clear. And what I see is a whole lot less people. Already, studios and newsrooms have found ways to do without half their staffs. There's more (or less) where that came from, for sure. And while I only wish joblessness on a precious few, no one can say they haven't been warned. Really, it's been in all the trades, not to mention that new thing the kids call the internet. Fewer producers, smaller anchor teams, less techies underfoot... it's all a bit of a drag. Unless of course you're a competent shooter who can write, edit, shuck and jive. Then you might be tempted to think the future is kind of bright, for once we get rid of the pretty people and pretenders, all that's left will be the likes of ME.

Take a moment to let that soak in. Feel free to lunge for the remote if you must.

Just don't get me wrong. I'm not celebrating the extinction of long-held jobs. Nor am I predicting any of this will make for a better viewing experience there at home. Quite the opposite, actually, for over the next five to ten years, broadcast news is going to get even uglier than it is today. But it's my utmost hope and half-held belief that whatever form local television news takes, it will be grittier, harder to watch, finally free of most of its hokum. I for one can't wait, for if local TV news stayed the same, I'd be even less inclined to show my lifer card in public. As it is, I'm still a bit hesitant. Too many talented people have let the fold already. Perhaps if I had more exciting options, I'd consider it too. As it is, I'm stuck under glass, biding my time, watching and waiting in hopes new opportunities will crop up before I resign myself to pumping out reruns. Am I kidding myself? Perhaps, but nowhere near as much as the spunky new reporter chick who's counting on a posse of underlings to do her heavy lifting. Who knows, I might even get out from behind this van...

Probably not, though.


rashid1891 said...

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muhammadrazzaq50 said...

And while I only wish joblessness on a precious few, no one can say they haven't been warned. Really, it's been in all the trades,

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