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October 21, 1987 - Image 58

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-10-21

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A technician shows his stuff: Jimmie Mitchell of KGUN-TV works the cameras in Tu

Hit t he0


new, cost-conscious manage-
ments trying to better their
profit pictures by squeezing
millions from news budgets.
ABC was taken over by Capital
Cities; CBS turned itself over
to billionaire Laurence Tisch
to avert a hostile takeover;
NBC, a part of RCA, was ac-
quired by General Electric. All
three networks faced news-di-
vision strikes this year, princi-
pally over job security in the
face of inevitable layoffs. Since
1984 the three shops have fired
or sweetened resignation and
retirement packages for hun-
dreds of employees in their
news divisions (and hundreds
in other divisions as well).
Some of those experienced
hands have grabbed off places
at local stations in medium
and large markets, which once
were likely starting places
for young people. That means
that even smaller markets are
swamped with applicants. "I
don't think it needs to sound so
hopeless, but I don't think I
EY CLIFFORD could start out in Louisville,
,son Ky., today," says that lumi-
nous success symbol Diane
Sawyer of CBS, a Kentucky native who
began her career doing local news and
weather at WLKY-TV in 1967. "The wait-
ing lists at smaller stations are going to be
longer and longer."
Which is not to say that a persistent
applicant will never find work; the posi-
tion is simply apt to be more pedestrian
than in the palmier past. The Labor
Department, projecting into the mid-
1990s, says prospects for radio and TV
newscasters are just average. Demand for
writers, editors and producers should
grow at a faster pace. The same is true for
skilled technicians-like Jimmie Mitch-
ell, a recent Arizona graduate who now
works as a cameraman for KGUN-TV in
Tucson-despite the fact that in the field,
one-person sound / light / camera crews
are increasingly common.
Fewer journeymen: "People of considerable
talent find their careers stopped at lower
and lower levels," says Mona Mangan,
executive director of the Writers Guild
East, who handled strike negotiations at
ABC and CBS earlier this year. "There are
fewer journeymen in the business. You get
ahead and suddenly find you have no-
where to go." Salaries range all over the
lot, from $11,000 for a beginning produc-
tion assistant in a small market, to about
$75,000 for a correspondent in a city like
Boston, to at least $100,000 for a net-
work correspondent. Only a select-and

Economies dim job prospects in television

First, the glitter. Tamara Maher
spent the summer a few desks
down from a man she calls "Pe-
ter"-Peter Jennings of ABC. You
may know him: he does a news
show. She was a summer intern. "You see
everything that's going on," says Maher, a
junior at New York's Hofstra University.
"It's fascinating. This is experience that
most people will not actually have." Now
the grit. What she did all day was "make
sure the TV's are tuned to the right chan-
nel and keep the coffee going," as well as
answering the phones and delivering
scripts. For all her eagerness, Maher does
confess that these duties do not always
offer a stimulating challenge. "The phone
does get to be a pain after a while,"
she says.

OK, so Woodward and Bernstein would
not be bowled over. But television news-
as Bernstein himself discovered during a
relatively brief stint with ABC-often
looks more glamorous from the outside.
Insiders have long known that broadcast-
ing can be a rough-and-tumble business.
And in these budget-minded days, it's
rougher than ever-shaken by layoffs,
strikes and narrowed opportunities. "The
ability for someone to come in and learn
about the business is limited," says one 35-
year-old producer for a respected news
show. "It's a little bit like being a member
of the steel industry and watching it all
fall apart. It's a very bad time."
Harder times can be traced to a climatic
shift in the industry. All three net-
works have recently been transformed by



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