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Saying goodbye to news: the industry exit

A recent blog posting by former print reporter Allyson Bird went viral after she wrote about her reasons for leaving the news industry. From the hours and pay to the 24-hour nature of the profession, she notes she is happier working in the fundraising branch of a hospital. Although she admits she does miss seeing her byline. Bird is just one of many former media news professionals who have departed the industry in the wake of cutbacks and furloughs. Although there are those who will always miss the rush and fast-paced excitement of the news world, inVocus spoke with several former journalists who are now happy in a more stable work environment.

Caroline Allen, Writer, Artist, Writing Coach:

Allen is a former journalist who worked in Tokyo for the Daily Yomiuri and as a travel writer throughout Asia, a freelance features writer in London and a writer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Today, she is a writing coach, artist and writer.

“I was an editor when Emperor Hirohito died and an editor when Princess Diana died. It was an epic lifestyle. Still, I felt a strong pull to give it up and turn to writing fiction and doing visual art. There were two reasons for the pull to give up the career: First, as a journalist I’d always had my finger on the pulse, and I could sense that with the Internet, journalism was about to go through a profound shift. Second, I wanted away from the trauma of news and toward the more soulfully abundant lifestyle of an artist. I no longer wanted others to tell me what to write, or what to create. So, I gave up a jet-setting lifestyle and became a broke artist-type. It was a profoundly difficult transition.

I miss the jet-setting lifestyle of my journalism career, the free tickets for events I was covering, and being more out in the world. Still, today I am so fully immersed in my artist lifestyle, and so content, I cannot imagine going back.”

Susan R. Miller, Senior Account Executive, Boardroom Communications Inc.:

A 30-year veteran of the industry, Miller formerly worked in broadcast and digital and print. She now works as a senior account executive at a boutique firm in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. It is the same firm that pitched stories to her for years.

“I lost the passion and fire when journalism became all about how many ‘clicks’ a story received and no longer was about writing solid, in-depth pieces that required sourcing and critical thinking. I watched friends and colleagues who had given their all to the profession walk out the door during mass layoffs with little more than a ‘see ya’ and don’t let the door hit you in the backside on the way out. Now I spend my days pitching stories to journalists, many of whom confide in me that they too are looking for the right opportunity to leave the profession and are standing on the edge, ready to jump any day now.”

Karlyn Lothery, Founder, Lothery & Associates:

Lothery, a former television reporter, ended her career a few years ago when she left WRDW-TV in Augusta, Ga. She is now a communication trainer and provides media, presentation and cross-cultural communication training to professionals and sports figures.

“I left because it was clear that chasing the ‘bad news’ of the day was not my cup of tea. I didn’t put as much into my work as I used to, because the stories always ended with tears, someone embarrassed, angry or in jail.

I will admit that on days where big news is breaking and new details unfold every hour, or so, I get hungry for the adrenaline rush. Plus, I miss the days of hard-nosed news directors who demanded that we get it right. Whether ‘it’ meant spelling, titles, grammar, punctuation, or basic facts, there used to be a time that right was more important than first. Today we read so many flubs in online news or even live news crawls across the bottom of the screen, it becomes quite a distraction from watching the news.”

Kyle S. Reyes, Founder, The Silent Partner Marketing:

A former producer of news and special projects, Reyes spent nearly nine years working in the television industry. Today, he is the founder of the Silent Partner Marketing.

“I accepted a buyout package during a third round of layoffs. It was a no-brainer – I was working 80 to 100 hours per week. Layoff after layoff left us with a skeleton staff, forcing us to focus on spot news to fill the ever-expanding news hole. No more investigative journalism. No more feature pieces; instead, the regurgitation of the newspaper and the national feed. And, may I add, barely enough money to get by.
You don’t get into journalism for the money. But you DO stick with it for the passion.

I’ll always miss the intensity of breaking news – real, true breaking news, not the single car into a telephone pole at 2 a.m. But that rush now comes watching the ‘stories’ we create help build and grow family businesses. I’ll never look back!”

Vanessa Vancour, Account Manager & Social Strategist, Noble Studios:

Vanessa Vancour spent more than three years working as a television news reporter and weather anchor, but decided to pursue a degree in digital strategy.

“Since then I’ve been approached by two TV stations to return as an evening anchor and I’ve turned both opportunities down – to focus on my family and because I see more opportunities to grow in my current career. If I were single, I would definitely consider going back to TV. But as the mother of two young girls, I can’t imagine giving up my mornings or dinners with my family for a career.

During breaking news events I do find myself glued to the coverage – I miss the excitement and being in the know. I don’t miss the hours.”

–Katrina M. Mendolera

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