The 5 Words That Ended My Career in TV News


It was late fall of 2003. The Democratic primary for the 2004 election was about to get underway. The camera crews were in place. The reporters ready. The stage was set.

The location was Popejoy Hall on campus at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

This would be the first televised debate of the 2004 Presidential Election. George W. Bush was the incumbent president and would run an uncontested primary. That left the DNC in the spotlight for the better part of the next 9 months.

The cameras rolled. The debate commenced.

Back at the station, I was preparing to run tapes for KASA Fox 2 News at Nine. For you youngsters, back in that day, we still had giant Beta tapes that we had to shuffle between 3 different decks like a disc jockey. Today it's all digital. Thank god.

After the debate, crews began rolling back to the station and reporters began editing their news stories and video packages.

One of the reporters called me over at one point to get my opinion on the package.

The video was supposed to be maybe 2:30 minutes long. As I watched I could help but noticed that out of the 4 sound bites so far, 3 of them were from then governor of Vermont, Howard Dean.

I brought this to the reporters attention and asked if they would be presenting differing points of view?

The response? Five words that I didn't realize at the time but would eventually sour me and end my career in television news.

"Well, I like Howard Dean."

Straight-faced. Serious. Incredulous that I would not feel the same way.

I told the reporter, "Well then I guess it looks good," or something to that affect and walked away.

I didn't quite realize it then but those 5 words would weigh heavily on me the next couple of years I worked for TV news. I started opening my eyes to the news product I was helping put on the air and came to realize just how outrageously full of crap television news rooms were.

I knew that's how things ran in large markets like Los Angeles and New York. To discover that even a mid-market city like Albuquerque was so blatantly biased was disheartening. I was disappointed in myself that I was helping produce such an awful product that was so biased and full of opinion.

It took me awhile to get to a place where I could confidently say I was finished, but eventually I did.

I came to the decision that my soul was not for sale. Especially not for the $8.50/hr my Bachelor's Degree in Television Production was worth.

Why Am I Sharing This With You?
Many of you are working jobs you hate. You're waking up every morning, punching a clock and find yourself being dragged through life.

I am begging you. In this 2018 world that has so much opportunity literally in the palm of your hand, please, please, please, make the commitment to do whatever it takes to live life on your terms.

Now I'm not saying up and quit with no way to pay your bills. You have to get your bills paid. But when you get home at 6pm, have dinner, and then from 8pm til midnight or 1am, use the tools that have been given to you, for free, and begin planning your path forward.

There is no excuse in a 2018 world to be living a life that makes you miserable.

You'll take hits. You'll take losses. No question. Own them like a badge of honor and go execute against your dreams.

Love you all.