This week was my last week as a local TV reporter.
In varying degrees and at various times over the past three months, I’ve announced my decision to leave local TV news to friends, mentors, and co-workers. Some were shocked by my decision, but all have been supportive. One of my former internship supervisors said that she always knew that I wouldn’t be happy in local news.
It’s been an evolving decision, one that has taken a lot of introspection and self-discovery, with both professional and personal reasons to why I’m leaving.
I came into broadcasting because I love the power video has in capturing emotions and in telling the stories of others and because I’ve always been a curious kid wanting to learn about everything. And so I made my on-air debut at a NBC station in Montana while in college back in spring 2011.
But two years later, I realized that local news simply wasn’t for me. 90 seconds was hardly enough for me, and too often that 90 seconds covers only superficial aspects of the story. I prefer more long-term, more in-depth work. I also knew that if I were going to continue in the industry, my calling would be in breaking news. It’s the only time when I truly felt alive in the industry (besides when I did special reports). But there’s only so much death and tragedy you can take before you’re stripped of all emotion, replaced only by pure cynicism. Besides the daily work, I also wanted to have more involvement with the business side of things so I can help build growth, but management is quite top-down in TV. Perhaps most importantly, I realized that there were aspects of the direction that the broadcasting industry is heading toward that I strongly disliked.
Personally, it’s incredibly taxing when you’re on-call all the time. Reporting makes for a very unhealthy lifestyle of interrupted sleep and weird meal times, if you even get to eat. Some people say they’ll just tough it out until they get onto the anchor desk, but I’ve never wanted to anchor. (In fact, I was offered a position at my now-former station, but I declined.) Local news is also a path where you have to uproot your life and move every couple of years if you want to get to the top. I’ve been a nomad on the loose my entire life, and while I’ll always have the wandering tendencies, I truly would like a place to call home now.
For all other reasons on why I’m leaving local TV news, please read Tina Fey’s “Bossypants.”
But all this doesn’t mean that I now dislike the entire industry and all the people in it. There are plenty of individuals I know in the industry whom I admire and respect, and I would still encourage students and recent graduates who want to foray into the industry. Plus, I learned a lot of valuable skills and experiences as a reporter that I will take onto my future opportunities.
It took me a lot of sleepless nights to figure out just where I wanted to go from here, and at times, part of me wanted to give broadcast another, perhaps different, chance. While local TV wasn’t my cup of tea, I thought that perhaps the long-form shows of the big networks would be. As recently as this month, I interviewed with one of the big networks to work on their flagship shows, but in the end, the sentimental loyalty to broadcasting couldn’t beat the practical realization that there are much better career directions for me.
Sometimes it’s hard to leave the comfort zone, but without leaving it, you can never explore what else is out there. And so once again, I’m packing up and getting ready to head off to my next adventure — working for a startup in San Francisco. I’m extremely excited and grateful for this next stage of my life and absolutely ready for it.
Thank you to all the viewers in Montana, Chicago, and Nebraska who’ve watched me report and kept tabs on me, and thank you to everyone who has encouraged and supported me during this transition.
And good luck to all those who are thinking about making a change or just trying to figure out what to do with your lives (especially the newest Northwestern graduates!).