Tuesday, November 3, 2009

DAY 29

Version 2.0
Apparently version 1.0 was a bit scathing. So, taking the advice of a friendly producer, I am toning this one down a bit.

Writing my diatribe the other day made me realize how much I've missed this little blog. As a result, part two is coming a little sooner then expected...

I think I left off contemplating my struggle to find balance between what I love to do, and what is expected of me. Before I elaborate, let me admit that I am a bit of a cop out. In a desperate attempt to find satisfying work that will actually support the lifestyle I want, I've taken the law school admissions test and plan to enroll in law school next fall. That leaves me with a little less then a year to smile and bear whatever working conditions that I am subjected to.

While I am excited about this new phase in my life, part of me is still mourning the loss of the vision that I had for myself when I left college. I truly saw this career taking me places. I saw myself as a seasoned veteran of the biz... Giving speeches to college classrooms about pursuing your dreams and working hard. I saw myself struggling at first, and then figuring it all out. Naively, I saw everything falling into place.

Reality is never as clear cut as our dreams, but sometimes it comes close. This is certainly true in my case. I love breaking news as much as I thought I would. I love pressure, deadlines, adrenaline, and yes, the satisfaction of a story well told. In those cases reality has actually far exceeded my dreams. I never dared to imagine that I would be standing face to face with a future president, but in reality it happened! I never envisioned the heat of flames shooting ten feet into the sky, but I've experienced that too. I've experienced so many exhilarating things, that it saddens me to call it quits.

But reality has also let me down. It has strung me along, built up excitement, and not delivered. It has given me managers more concerned about the bottom line then doing what is right and ethical. It has put me in compromising situations, that I refuse to fall in to again.

When our station first began transitioning to the platform of multi media journalists (MMJ's) I was the guinea pig. I was the first photographer to be given a story to write. I was the first photographer to voice a package. While I looked forward to producing more NAT packages, I quickly realized the impossibility of what was expected of me. I took on new responsibilities with my whole heart, doing my best to succeed.

After a few weeks of MMJing I quickly realized that I was not only capable of doing the additional work I was asked to produce, but that I was also good at it. When this happened, I approached my manager asking to be compensated for the additional work. I didn't need a lot. I just wanted to be paid fairly. I knew that I would never been given what I was really worth, but somehow that didnt matter. I was ok as long as it was made clear that the extra work was appreciated and would be compensated accordingly. During our meeting it was made perfectly clear that extra compenstation was not in the picture. It was also blatently obvious that I didnt have the option to remain a photographer.

Since then however I have been coming to work with a new outlook. It is called the silent rebellion outlook. Rather then attempting to find NAT pkg ideas everyday (which by the way is pretty much IMPOSSIBLE) I walk in the door and immediately ask who I will be working with. I make it clear that I expect to be given a reporter. When I'm told that I'm on my own, which I normally am, I voice my opposition to the idea. I am still handed things that are impossible to accomplish. I am still given duties that far exceed my job title, but now I make it clear that I don't think it is acceptable.

Don't get me wrong. When I am given a task (whether with a reporter, or alone) I still give 110 percent. Just because I am unhappy with the way that I am being treated, doesnt mean I dont take pride in my work. I do. I still want to improve as much as possible before I leave. I still want my story to be the one that people talk about at the end of the day. Regardless of how I feel about our news organization as a whole, I want my piece to be the best that it can be. No, it isn't my work ethic that has changed, it is my attitude.

I've adopted an indifference toward my superiors. I'll do what they ask because I have to, because at the end of the day they are still signing my meager pay check. I won't do it with a smile however. I wont do it with a skip in my step. My capabilities far exceed the respect they show me. When I go above and beyond, I will do it for myself (for my own pride) and not because I want recognition. I've come to expect that my work go unnoticed.

Yes, I am frustrated. I am angry. I wish that they would acknowledge my worth. But I also know that I can not change them. The only thing that I can change is myself. So I have taken responsibility for my own happiness, and I am moving on. I will ultimately know that I have done far more with my life then I could have ever done if I had quietly accepted their version of my worth. And that in itself will make me happy.