I left TV news and found meaning (and more $) on the other side. Now I’m helping others do the same.
Until 2018, I can't say I had a textbook watershed moment in my young adult life. As a journalist, I had a front-row seat to events that shaped our nation's history: devastating natural disasters, school shootings, and presidential elections. All left their mark on me (and my mental health) in one way or another.
But my watershed moment didn't happen amid national breaking news. Instead, it was a hyper-local story that changed the course of my life and career forever.
I was the nightside bureau reporter for WINK News in Naples, Florida. On July 5, 2018, I was working on an exclusive: two older men lost their home to a lightning strike fire. I interviewed them both, got details on where to send donations, and set out to write an impactful story. I planned to go live from their driveway, where the soot from the fire was still fresh on the ground.
About an hour before my first live shot, I heard chatter on the scanner: a singular rollover crash on a pretty quiet road. I listened more intently. No injuries, no blocked traffic. I sighed that all-too-familiar sigh of relief and headed to my live shot location.
Fifteen minutes later, I received a phone call from the nightside EP. He heard about the crash and wanted me to go. I explained why it wasn't a better story, but my attempt was futile. I had to abandon my post to go live on a dark, buggy road in front of a deserted car.
I indulged in a long cry and pity party at home that night. I was sick of not having agency over my work. I was sick of compromising my morals for "breaking news." I was sick of it all. The career I had dreamed of since I was a little girl turned out to be a nightmare.
Though I'd entertained the idea of leaving the news business for a few months, that muggy July night solidified my decision. I allowed myself to sulk the rest of the week –then I got to work finding a new job.
The big lie
There's this concept in journalism I call "the big lie."
The lie is that it's "easy" to land a job in public relations after news and that journalists are highly sought-after candidates. What a slap in the face to learn that wasn't true.
Well, I think it's true for some people. I think it's true for long-time anchors who are prominent figures in their communities. It makes sense a local business would benefit from such a celebrity hire.
But what about the rest of us? Those of us who realized after just a few years that TV news isn't suitable for us? Where do we go?
Coming to terms
Retiring from TV was one of the loneliest decisions I've ever made. My colleagues were too afraid to entertain the idea of leaving, and my non-news friends didn't understand the emotional attachment tied to my career.
It took me months to land my first job out of news. After relying on reels and word-of-mouth references to get hired, I didn't understand how to participate in the "real world." I had no idea if I qualified for any jobs, and I didn't know how to showcase my skills were transferable. I was 26 years old but felt like a college graduate. I was embarrassed, and I felt like a failure. I wish I had someone to lean on while trying to navigate this new world.
I eventually found my way – and though it wasn't easy, it has been gratifying. I've spent the last four years in marketing and communications before starting my consulting firm for small businesses and entrepreneurs. As it turns out, there are a lot of organizations out there that want the special sauce only journalists have. The tricky part is learning how to speak the corporate lingo and convince these businesses that they need you.
I won't lie; leaving TV was a punch in the gut. My "status" as a reporter was so intertwined with ego I was skeptical I'd ever find a job as fulfilling or important as working in journalism. But I'm thrilled to say I've found so much meaning in my work post-news. The work/life balance, significantly higher paychecks, and ability to actually open a savings account are excellent bonuses.
Transition out of TV
A mass exodus is happening in journalism right now, which really breaks my heart. Even worse – those who desperately want to leave have no clue where to start. So they're stuck working in jobs that no longer serve them under abusive management, wage theft, and threats to their security from overzealous viewers.
That's why I created my course Transition out of TV. I've taken everything I've learned in my evolution from journalist to marketing/communications pro to entrepreneur and concentrated it into a comprehensive course that helps others make their own transition.
The course is broken up into five modules.
Module one takes students through inner work exercises so they can figure out what fires them up and how to find a job that aligns with those passions.
Module two teaches students everything they need to know about marketing, communications, public relations, social media management, and entrepreneurship. I also cover the nuances of working for corporations and nonprofits.
Module three is the heavy lift module. In this module, students work on revamping their resumes, templating their cover letters, updating their LinkedIn and website, and developing a personal brand.
Module four walks students through their best options for filling their skills gap and shows them how to gain relevant experience for jobs outside of news (without having to do free work as part of the interview process).
Module five covers organizing the job search and includes advice from recruiters on what makes a successful job application and how to nail interviews and salary negotiations.
My goal for this course is to provide everything a journalist would need to know to make a career transition in one evergreen package. Resume writers and career coaches are wonderful, but they cost hundreds of dollars and really can only be utilized when someone is ready to make a move. In contrast, my course is designed so journalists can apply what they've learned immediately or when their contract is up.
I'm running a special from now until September 1 – $50 off with the discount code JUMPCUT50. The price goes up after that, and the course begins on September 15. Here's the link to secure your pre-order offer. All of my student's information is kept confidential – so no one in your newsroom will know you're taking the course unless you tell them yourself.
One more thing.
I don't blame the EP that made that decision that night. I believe he thought he was doing what was best for the newscast, and I have to respect his decision.
I am a fierce advocate for the press and am in no way trying to convince journalists to leave the industry. Good journalism is so desperately needed – especially now. My course is for those who have made peace with their decision to leave and need a guide and a friend as they embark on a new journey. I am here to help these incredible folks gain confidence in themselves and their skills so they can market themselves accordingly. erviews and salary negotiations.