Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Moving on

Thank you, Everyone for your emails and comments. I’m sorry I haven’t had time to reply to each of you individually. I’ve just been so terribly worn out. (Can you believe this is only the second day I’ve had off this month?) However, I’m truly grateful to have you all to remind me that Taiwan is a wonderful place where democracy thrives, even if some of its political components are still not very mature. Also, thank you for the well wishes. My leg is much better now. The bruise is about 85% gone. I think there will be a little bit of scarring where the end of the pipe hit, but it’ll give me a chance to brag about as a battle scar! Still I hope the scar goes away.

In the past week, I made up my mind to leave FTV in May, when my anchoring contract ends. I’ve gotten to see, be in the middle of and cover events including riots, presidential campaigns, political spitting contests at the Legislature, bloody murder investigations, super typhoons, children suffering from rare and incurable diseases, a minister of education who defended his shoving of a reporter with “microphones are crawling bacteria, and that reporter’s mic was too close to my face,” fun stories, travel stories, food & drink stories, sad stories, heart-warming stories… I’ve been very lucky to experience so much in such a short period of time. And I even learned to tell these stories live, in English, Mandarin and Taiwanese, and also from inside the studio as an anchor. I also sure met a great number of interesting people, experts on various things and made some wonderful friends.

This coming January, I’ll be on my fifth year at FTV. Surprised that I lasted this long? Most people seem to be. Two of my three parents thought I’d be out of this media hoo-ha and back at an investment bank within a year. Anne Hu (the managing director of FTV News) thought I’d be gone from FTV in two. Some coworkers thought I’d only last months, and actually tried to accelerate the process… Some say that a person as foreign as me (relative to the rest of the staff) totally doesn’t fit in a TV station that produced content for an audience whose demographics are 40’s and up, living in the more rural parts of Taiwan. A lot of people thought that with a somewhat privileged American upbringing and prestigious Japanese business school education, I shouldn’t have to and wouldn’t be able to cope with all the stress and long hours of TV news in Taiwan. Heh heh. I showed them. And I had so much fun doing it. I was (and still am) super tired, but it was worth it!

When I graduated from B-school and started working at FTV, “fit” wasn’t so important. But like how my square head doesn’t feel very comfortable in my round bicycle helmet on long, bumpy rides, it’s how I’m increasingly feeling about working here. In the last four years, I’ve grown and learned so quickly and so much as a journalist. However, the growing and learning is slowing down and all the stress and long hours is starting to not feel worth it anymore. My reports are still average or just a little above average and theoretically, since I’m different in many ways from my coworkers, I should be able to produce things that are different as well, but that hasn’t been the case. I have trouble getting my assignment editors to allow me to incorporate a broader point of view, and rarely do I get to exercise my other abilities, especially my language and planning skills. With FTV’s target audience being what it is, I’m not surprised or upset for the most part. But the build-up of rust in my head is beginning to come out of my ears, and it’s getting really annoying and itchy.

These days, I’m feeling more and more like I’m not doing very much for the company and the company is not doing very much for me. They can hire any local college graduate with a smaller salary and have them what I’m doing. Maybe they’d do the job even better.

It’s time to go. However, before I take off, I plan on completing a “graduation project.” After very frankly telling Anne Hu everything, I told her that I would very, very much like to produce at least one spectacular piece of work, which can be a single story, a feature or a series, before turning in my resignation papers. Surprisingly when I went to Hu, I expected to be berated and verbally reduced to nanodust –the treatment that most people get when they tell her they’re leaving, but she actually listened to me talk for nearly half an hour straight, nodding, smiling and interrupting only once or twice. She told me to take some days off first. She says this when people want to quit, and often, after a few days off, people do bounce back, ready to continue where they left off. I explained to her that I have a ton of days stocked up, but I can’t use them, because the editors always say, “we don’t have enough people.” Part of the problem is ME, because when they call asking if I can come back to work or take fewer days off, I always say, “oooookay.” I’m a pushover. In any case, after I left Hu’s office, Solon (my assignment editor) and Jiang (the guy in charge of anchor scheduling) were called into her office. Two hours later, Solon called and said, “good news, we’re hiring one more person, you’re getting six days off right after your night shift in December and I’m giving you a break from anchoring the next two weekends so you can rest at home.” Hallelujah! Well, I had a business trip one of the weekends, but at least this weekend, I get to stay home. But I think Hu knows that I’m determined to leave, even after some rest. In spite of that, she went out of her way to make my life easier, for which I’m very grateful and rather touched. I’m lucky to have met Solon at a time like this because he went to bat for me and he can train me to be an even better reporter in the short time that I have left.

With “media producer” as my long-term goal, for my next step, I’d like to become a TV program host and co-producer. I love being on-stage just as much as being off-stage, like how I’m enjoying both anchoring and reporting right now. I’m aiming to work for a multi-national media company. No specific target firm in sight yet, but they’re starting to come into view with the help of friends. (Thank you, Friends!!) William hooked me up with a TV station in Macau in search of anchors/reporters from Taiwan, and Sting (my production company friend) immediately got on his phone with his buddy who is one of the top guys at ESPN here when I told him about my decision to leave FTV. Interesting how Solon suggested I consider ESPN (whose Asia HQ is Singapore) because I’m quite familiar with sports, compared to most people. He said that when he was reporting at the Beijing Olympics this summer, he noticed that ESPN always had to send a Chinese-speaking reporter along with their English-speaking anchor because they didn’t have anyone who was fluent in both languages AND understood sports.

Nothing definite yet in the way of opportunities or where to go, but for sure, these signs of more good things to come are quite promising. It’s a good start. Maybe I’ll even get to work outside of Taiwan part of the time, which would be great.

I’m so happy that, as Michel put it, my pipedream is now starting to become reality. Thank you so much Family and Friends for your love and support. ☺


David said...

Good luck. I'm sure you'll do well at whatever you choose.

翁郁容 Michella Jade Weng ミシェラ・オング said...

Thank you, David. :)

Anonymous said...

Ultimately, it comes down to doing what is best from yourself - both from a professional as well as personal standpoint, though often the two are connected.

I am sure that you will come out where you want to be.

翁郁容 Michella Jade Weng ミシェラ・オング said...

Thanks. :)
I've realized that especially as of late, my brain has just be totally fried and I'm just spinning water. I'm busy, tired and not getting much out of anything. It's really time for a change, which includes some re-evaluation of what my priorities are. If I can just get those days off to rest and clear my head... Another seven days to go until rest. I just realized that I'm on a 11-day shift this time. Must not think about it. It only makes me more tired.

Peter said...

Hi. I'm sure you got lots of options for media agencies. Ever considered the Phoenix TV (鳳凰衛視), to see how "the other side" views things? They also got quite a lot of expat Chinese reporting in there - one of which was also an i-banker like yourself (if I read you correctly). Anyway, good luck! ;-)

翁郁容 Michella Jade Weng ミシェラ・オング said...

Yes, perhaps Phoenix may be an option. I've heard good things about it. We'll see what happens!

Must-haves of the new job:
1. on-camera work
2. off-camera work (production)
3. international factor

Good-to-haves of the new job:
1. TV program, rather than news
2. international media organization