It’s not necessarily what you do – it’s how you do it.
Network Ten, which brought us Modern Family, now seems more like the Manson Family, slashing more than 130 jobs after reporting a full year net loss of $12.9 million, down from last year’s profit of $14 million.
There are a lot of numbers in that sentence. But this isn’t just a story about numbers.
It’s about a television network which has paid scant regard to its online presence, social media, or the modern audience. Put simply, it’s about the death of old media.
Like manufacturing, publishing and agriculture, the media has failed to keep up with changing consumer demands, technological advances, and globalisation. Instead of planning for the future, they’ve adopted a scorched earth policy.
And it’s not just the private sector. Witness “Can-Do” Campbell Newman using a blunt object to smash the public service.
Uncertainty is cruelling this country. No wonder there’s a crisis in confidence; no one knows whether they’ll have a job tomorrow. The media is just a microcosm of this.
On paper, interest rates, GDP and the Aussie dollar look good.
But, as I say, forget the numbers: this story is also about human beings who are dumped out the back with the rest of the garbage.
Co-host of Network Ten’s Melbourne news, the popular and professional Helen Kapalos ( below), arrived at work on Friday morning excited about going on holidays the next day. By 6.30pm she’d been marched off the premises, stripped of her security pass and email account.
(This is reminiscent of the time Vogue editor, Kirstie Clements, was frog-marched out of the NewsLifeMedia offices after having her phone confiscated.)
What, pray tell, was Helen’s crime?
Veteran anchor and respected journalist Bill Woods – co-host of the 5 o’clock news in Sydney – suffered the indignity of his own news leaking to the papers before he was told officially yesterday.
These are talented people who will use their profiles to rebuild their careers. You will read about them in the papers.
But you won’t read about all the editors, camera operators, makeup artists, producers and journos who’ve been kicked to the kerb. These are people on average wages, supporting loved ones, who now have to find a work in a dying industry.
My heart goes out to them.
After being assured last month that their show had a 10-year lifespan, staff on Ten Breakfast were told yesterday it would not continue “in the same format” beyond November 30.
I reckon that show is a crime against humanity. After some of his more appalling comments, Paul Henry should be sent back to New Zealand. But no one deserves to have their hopes raised and dashed on a whim.
Poison is being drip-fed through the network.
The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance is blunt: “Network Ten has treated its staff with contempt after sacking people… without adequate consultation.”
Federal Secretary Christopher Warren has sought information on what the restructure means for journalists – and local communities – faced with a nationalised evening news bulletin.
The network refuses to comment on how much more blood will be spilled.
It makes me wonder: how much power does any employee have these days? Is the might of unions really so diminished?
Why aren’t we standing up and saying, “Enough is enough”?
My advice to anyone in the throes of a corporate collapse is this: It is not the end; it is the beginning.
Getting sacked from Network Ten six years ago was the best thing that could have happened to me. I’m happier, both personally and professionally, having plunged headfirst into the brave world of new media.
Finally, I work for employers who value my abilities.
No one is just a number on a payroll.
We all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
MORE ARTICLES BY TRACEY SPICER
*Tracey Spicer is a respected journalist who has worked for many years in radio, print and television.
Channel Nine and 10 news presenter and reporter; 2UE and Vega broadcaster; News Ltd. columnist; Sky News anchor …it’s been a dream career for the Brisbane schoolgirl with a passion for news and current affairs.
Tracey is a passionate advocate for issues as diverse as voluntary euthanasia, childhood vaccinations, breastfeeding, better regulation of foreign investment in Australia’s farmland, and curtailed opening hours for pubs and clubs. She is an Ambassador for World Vision, ActionAid, WWF, the Royal Hospital for Women’s Newborn Care Centre and the Penguin Foundation, Patron of Cancer Council NSW and The National Premmie Foundation, and the face of the Garvan Institute’s research into pancreatic cancer, which killed her beloved mother Marcia 11 years ago. But Tracey’s favourite job, with her husband, is bringing up two beautiful children – six-year-old Taj and five-year-old Grace. Visit Tracey’s website at www.spicercommunications.biz or follow her on Twitter @spicertracey.