Never Can Say Goodbye
Why Leaving TV is So Hard
By Rebecca Coates Nee
Three formers became formers again in my TV market last week.
former anchor/reporters for just a few months; others were
out several years.
Now all are happily back on deadline at their old stations.
This time, I am not among them, but since I once was, I know
how easy it is
to dispel the myth that you can't go back again. How come
leaving TV is so
hard for many of us? Here are some of the most common reasons
transition out of the business doesn't become permanent:
1. Leaving out of fear. You left your job, even though you
really loved it
deep down, because you were afraid of being replaced, not
having a life, or
not making enough money. So you took a "safe" PR
job with banker's hours and
a gym membership. Now you have a life; you just don't like
it very much.
2. Leaving out of lust. The general manager and board of directors
local water, electric or sewer district want you bad. They
love you. They
won't force you to cut your hair or gesture oddly during a
standup. They p
romise you a corner office, a secretary and long lunch breaks.
Too bad you
didn't realize you'd have to drown yourself in water, electricity
all day, every day. Reporters deal with a different subject
each hour; those
in PR do not. Most of us don't think about that fact before
we settle into
those comfy public relations couches.
3. Leaving out of frustration. I have to work another double,
weekend, another night shift? I'll show them. It's easy to
become burned out
and mad as hell at TV, but once the anger wears off, what
do you have? A
secretary, a gym membership and too much time on your hands.
4. Leaving without looking. For many of the reasons above,
you take a
position that sounds great on the outside, precisely because
it is the
antithesis of TV. Then you get there and realize why you got
into TV in the
first place - to avoid jobs like the one you have now.
So what's the best way to make the transition if you think
you really must go?
First, analyze your reasons for leaving - are they because
you're truly ready
to get out of the business, or do they have more to do with
your current news
director or market?
Second, take the time to thoroughly investigate what you want
career to be. Don't accept something because it sounds easy.
something that will utilize your talents, experience and abilities.
out what activities cause you to lose track of time - what
could you do for
hours without glancing at the clock or thinking about your
Also, understand that most jobs outside TV news involve a
certain element of
sales. Even doctors, lawyers and coaches have to look for
clients. It can be
tough to be the one making the pitches instead of the person
If you don't believe in what you're doing, you won't want
to do it for very
Finally, if you're still uncertain about which direction to
transitioning your way out slowly. Find out if you can work
part time or even
take a few months off. Impossible? Unlikely? Maybe so. But
it's a lot easier
than reincarnating after you've bid farewell to the viewers
and tasted your
going away cake.