Alan Henney is an assignment desk editor at Gannett-owned WUSA-TV in Washington. He quit this week—mad as hell, the whole bit. In his farewell email, he blamed too much blogging, not enough news-ing:
Subject: Goodbye from Alan
This message will come as a surprise.
I worked on the assignment desk and I enjoyed the work I did with all of you. You are some great co-workers. But I am not receiving the support I feel is needed to continue to attempt a quality news product on the weekends.
After receiving my master's from GWU, I spent my life pursuing a career in journalism. Paul Irvin brought me on as a paid tipster in March of 2000. Then Tony Castrilli offered me the part-time weekend desk position in 2005.
In addition to weekends, for the past three years I volunteered to work unfilled weekday shifts and major holidays, often neglecting my ailing mother. But I treasured every shift, and never once called out sick or missed a day of work.
As we discussed in ethics class yesterday, the top-down decision-making approach is a flawed model.
WUSA frequently lacks the discussion that is vital to the success of a vibrant news operation and falls into this model. Many of us are reluctant to say anything, and the suggestion box on the first floor is not enough.
The consultants and out-of-touch corporate management have ruined the newscasts with repetitive Web clutter, endless sidebar packages, and their preoccupation with the Internet.
You won't find a blog anywhere that will generate enough revenue to support a news operation of this size, there are simply too many. We've heard regular speak of "Web Winners," but what ever happened to the "News Winners?" A dying breed?
IT IS TIME EVERYBODY WORK A DAY ON THE ASSIGNMENT DESK TO FIND OUT WHAT IT IS LIKE.
The next time you holler at one of my colleagues on the assignment desk, put yourself in their position. The WUSA assignment editors are conscientious, diehard news people who work extended shifts without union benefits, never had a meal buyout or OT, and hardly get a chance to eat lunch.
The assignment desk is the WUSA switchboard, the help desk for all of WUSA and the rest of humanity. The assignment desk does pretty much everything nobody else does. TOO MUCH. How many of you call just to ask for another employee's phone number you should have already gotten from Renee's list? Please be thoughtful of assignment desk workers, and volunteer to work a shift to see what it is like.
We are doing less news gathering these days and more information posting. Somebody needs to be driving the news machine at all times, actively pursuing news leads. We've lost our focus.
Any corporation that allows employees to blog as an excuse for not reporting to work on time is not an organization with which I want to be associated.
Effective immediately, I am placing myself on permanent furlough from the Gannett Corp. I will be mailing back my card later today.
I am frustrated, as many of you are. Please don't let that discourage you from staying in touch. As I said, you have been great, and I'll miss working with you.
Thanks for the great times.
He's right you know. [Gannett Blog]