Changing Channels

TV ain’t what it used to be.

Here in the Albany market we’ve seen a flurry of deals that are putting ownership and management of TV stations in fewer hands. That’s fine — except if you work at one of these places.

I got out of TV after 25 years because I could see the business was changing — and by changing, I don’t mean getting better. All over the country, people with job titles very much like mine were being axed. Some of them never worked in the field again. Creative services managers, directors of advertising and promotion, marketing coordinators — suddenly they had a target on their backs. Get rid of the position and redistribute the duties.

Over time TV stations have been shedding middle managers and hiring as many part-timers as they can. Why have a full-time news photographer when you can have several part-timers, people whose schedules you can shuffle around and who receive few benefits?

Consolidation will mean even more job shrinkage. Stations will share services and staff and there will be fewer career opportunities.

So what does this mean for news coverage? Nothing. This town was already over-served by TV news. A variety of news outlets didn’t mean better reporting, it just meant more of the same from different stations.

So that’s the new reality. My old boss used always drop this quote, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” Many people attribute that to Yogi Berra, but they’re wrong — it was actually written by Walt Kelly for the comic strip Pogo.

Me? I prefer this quote from Michael Corleone: “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.”

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