Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Ch-Ch-Ch Changes!!!

I hate change, but change is inevitable in the news business, it seems. 

I saw this latest change coming.  New Austin American-Statesman owner GateHouse Media has something of a reputation for buy-outs and layoffs.  Sure enough, “GateHouse recently announced they were extending voluntary buyout offers to all of it’s employees,” according to the American-Statesman.

Publisher Susie Biehle and Editor Debbie Hiott both decided it was to time to take their offers.  Biehle had only been at the newspaper since 2011, but highly respected Hiott had worked her way up to top management after starting as an intern while still taking classes at what was Southwest Texas State.  That’s 28 years at the newspaper.

Losing top talent can be damaging to the news product.  Out the door with these managers go goodwill, contacts, and possibly credibility.  “Cutting people isn't always the best way to save costs,” said an anonymous GateHouse employee posting on www.glassdoor.com. 

Another post was more ominous: “This company is bleeding money. They cannot turn a profit. Stay away. Layoffs are always happening. I repeat. Stay away!”  People posting on Facebook here in Austin predict more and more people will be taking the buyouts, leaving lower paid and less experienced people behind. 

Will this help the local newspaper better?  Hiott made it better when she took over the newsroom.  Readers will judge, if they stick with their subscriptions.

Change happens in TV news too.  It seems like every time I tune in KEYE TV and KVUE I see a face I haven’t seen before.  Austin used to be a destination market.  Reporters would want to be a part of this city and stay.  While some have left “the business” over the year, many of them are still in town. 

One of them is Kate Weidaw whose last day at KXAN was Friday, August 24, 2018.  She had been doing whatever was asked of here in the mornings on KXAN and KNVA.  Kate holds a PhD.  She had been teaching part time at The University of Texas, but they made her a full-time offer she couldn’t refuse.  So, she is staying here with her family. 

I get it.  After 16-plus years at KXAN, I’m teaching at St. Edward’s University.  It was a good change.  I’m at the beginning of my ninth year.

It should be said that, for the most part, anchors at the TV stations haven’t changed much. 

Judy Maggio is still on the air at KLRU TV after having worked at both KVUE and KEYE.  KXAN’s Jim Spencer probably holds the record for continuous weather broadcasting at one station, KXAN.  Noteworthy is KXAN’s Robert Hadlock.  He is celebrating 28 years at the KXAN anchor desk this week.

The stability on and off the air can be what contribute to good ratings.  That’s part of why KXAN continues to hold the edge in the evenings.  Many of the producers and behind the scenes managers have many years at the station too.

The post prior to this one on newsmcnabb was six years ago this month.  I can’t say if I’m going to resume posting to this blog on a regular basis, but because of the flux of the past week or so I couldn’t help myself.  Yes, I still watch everyone in town, and I’ve been taking notes.

Wage Peace,

© Jim McNabb, August 28, 2018

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