LocalNewser standupkid's dispatches from the frontlines of local news


Mysteries of Local TV News: What's With the Bum's Rush?

I must admit this is one I've always been puzzled by:  why, when managers decide they're getting rid of someone, does the axe drop so swiftly--without warning in many cases--and the body, still warm, get carted off the premises so damn quickly?

It happened today in Minneapolis.  WCCO anchor Jeanette Trompeter thought she'd be doing her regular gig on the anchor desk at 5 p.m.  Instead, she got the axe--and ten minutes later, she was shown the door.  She was talking to Star-Tribune reporter C.J. a few minutes after that, apologizing for crying about the sudden loss of her job.  "I feel like a wimp," she told C.J.  "In this economy you're stupid if you're on TV and you don't know it's a possibility.  All I've ever asked for was give me a head start to go look for something else.  I didn't think I'd have to leave ten minutes after.  I thought I'd be doing the five o'clock news tonight."

WCCOs Trompeter

WCCO's Trompeter

She didn't.  Why?  "They said, 'you're no longer an employee.'"

Welcome to the Kinder and Gentler Street, where we all know the business is in trouble, and obviously, some cuts will be made.  But surely we can do this like professionals and with some degree of tact and grace.  Or, maybe it's just easier to jump somebody with their IFB in and their scripts in hand and divert them away from the studio, up to HR, and then out through the loading dock.  Maybe that averts a "scene" or an on-air farewell (Heavens no!  That would let people know we're a company like other industries where people are being laid off, right?) or maybe just a few days or weeks of having to, you know, work with them.

What's the rush?  There are anchors in New York who've been pulled off the air in a flash, only to be sent home to ride out month after month of a contract--cashing the checks, but doing no work.  Anybody see the logic of cash-strapped companies paying employees to stay home?

Maybe they just are such lousy local newsers it makes better financial sense to get them out of the building at any cost?  Well, not at WCCO.  Trompeter says she got this Kafkaesque sendoff:  "They said, You're a great employee and this has nothing to do with that. It's a purely financial decision. I just got a great [job] review about three weeks ago." 

Ponder that when you're called into the news director's office for that review.  You did great!  Might want to take your personal photos home just to be safe, though.  Never know if they'll let you back to your desk after they fire you.