Sunday, 27 May 2007

Happy ending to roller coaster week

Monday, I told my boss that I've had enough of garbage news and that I'm quitting in a year. But by the end of the week, I signed a contract to stay another 2 years. What am I doing? Making strategic choices.

Here's a recap of my crazy week.
Monday: filed four stories (too may if you want quality in any of the stories)
Tuesday: redid a story four times, had a very serious talk with my boss about all the things she was doing that was driving me absolutely insane
Wednesday: did overtime before work AND after work
Thursday: offered a screen test for a program host position at FTV's traffic channel that day but couldn't go because of schedule conflict, got called in for a chat with the news department managing director and offered a 2-year contract to present weekends, got berated over a tabloid story and stayed until 22h00 fixing it, told to prepare for a Taiwanese news screen test for the following night, offered a contract to start presenting weekends at FTV News
Friday: signed contract, got a raise, screen tested for Taiwanese news, came home to Danshui for the weekend

When I was called in to talk about the contract, I was honest and told the MD that I've really come to learn that my values and those of news media in Taiwan is at serious conflict and that I can't keep betraying my beliefs anymore. I gave the most recent example of the live reporting I did on three distinguished men in Taiwan getting honorary doctorates and all the producer wanted was the sound bite of nothing that one of the men said about someone's wedding. She didn't like it, either. She told me that it's hard to strike a balance between ratings and social responsibility sometimes. She said she tries hard to find a balance, and that when I don't like what I'm asked to give to the audience, it's OK to criticize it at the same time. She said we can't give up because Taiwan media responsibility would decompose even faster if we just got up and left, bringing our insistence on social values with us. Truthfully, I was only half convinced. Plus, the contract was terrible. It was for two years, same salary, I'd have to work my regular reporting shift in addition to presenting on my off day(s) and there was no guarantee that I'd be presenting regularly. So with the intent of showing her how I realize it's such a ridiculous agreement, I wrote down those conditions on my notebook, reading it out loud as I did so. She said she didn't like the contract either, but it's company policy and the people upstairs need it if I'm to start presenting. I knew she wasn't about to do anything to change it even if she could, so I told her I'd think about it. She gave me 24 hours to consult my parents and decide.

As lousy as those conditions were, I realized that I'm finally of a certain value to the station and that they want to bind me by law to stay here. Now that they're going to start preparing me to present news regularly, it'll be helpful for me too - I can work on my stage presence, gain exposure and build a reputation. All of these things are exactly what I need if I want to get out of here and move on. It would take some time, and a couple of years doesn't sound like much. If I improve at record speed and I'm spotted by another company, the five month's salary penalty is not much to pay if they are really serious. On the other hand, if the worst case scenario plays out and everything turns sour, then I can pay the penalty and leave.

My conclusion was that I had more to gain than to lose, and so did all three parents. When I went to sign the contract, the MD even gave me an unexpected 5% raise, "for good luck," she said.

Cheers to the beginning of a new stage in my career!

1 comment:

annie said...

Wow....presenting!! Congratulations!!! Although I am not sure how you are going to manage your time, I hope you can still find some free time for yourself.

Two years is not that long, don't worry =)