Helen Kapalos


 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.



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*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.


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  • Reply November 13, 2012

    Wendy Harmer

    I was once marched out of an office too when working on radio. No chance to say good bye to listeners… then the rumour got around that I had been out the night before and was too hung over to be on air!
    It’s terrible not to be able to say your “goodbyes ” properly – to clients, customers, colleagues, readers, listeners or viewers.
    What do some of these companies have to fear?

  • Reply November 13, 2012


    My partner was just sacked from his sales job. No reason – the new boss didn’t like him. No redundancy, no payout, and no replacement to do his work. No one seems to care about dignity any more.

  • Reply November 13, 2012


    What has happened to Australian employment? The way people are treated is very bad in some cases. I have seem some shocking things done to people – decent people who are just trying to do a job.

    I use to listen to a radio station with Dicko and Dave ONeil as the announcers – they to were told after their last show they were fired and didn’t get to say good bye. I have never listened to that station again. I would like to say I wont watch channel 10 news again but I really like Mal Waldon so my heart is torn – I thought Mal and Helen were great together. During last week she seemed to really care that Mal wasn’t well however he would be back soon. It is really disgusting they she was treated like so many others.

    I am currently looking for work – I call employers and send off resumes and I don’t even get a response most of the time. I am always pleased as I wouldn’t want to work for people who don’t have respect enough to return communication – it really isn’t that hard.

    I would love to work from home running my own business but haven’t really thought of a great idea yet so I must continue to deal with unprofessional employers in the mean time. Any ideas for a home business?

    • Reply November 13, 2012


      Yes, Ally, I feel the same way.

      I have been intermittently looking for work, having not been in such a position for quite a few years, and am shocked at how rude employers are now.

      In one notable attempt at getting a job, I was interviewed (which went extremely well) and then contacted regarding referees. All my referees (who are professional people of high standing in their industries) were contacted by the employer and gave lengthy verbal references on my behalf. Then, the employer told me they weren’t satisfied and could they contact more people? So I gave them another couple of names and then…. well…. that was it! I never heard another peep out of them! I contacted them via email asking what the status of my application was, and never got a reply. I wish they had just told me what happened. Perhaps give me the chance to respond, if one of the referees had said something negative about me. If you read the job hunting tips online, you are told that you shouldn’t hassle the poor dear employers. You should just suck it up. So I didn’t do anything. Except…feel bad about myself – for a while – but then I was glad I didn’t get the job – My goodness! Imagine how they treat their employees? And, oh yeah, it was a Catholic educational institution. Not very Christian, huh?

  • Reply November 13, 2012


    Tracey you forgot the NSW Govt axing far too many positions as well in the Public Service. The thing is when the media are reporting these things they are not remembering that these are peoples lives they are discussing willy nilly and that these same people are terrified of what is going to happen to them. The management do not care, all they are interested in is their bottom line. Then the media again have a go if the workers actually take some sort of industrial action to try to stop these unecessary cuts taking place. It seems to poor old workers can’t win…..

  • Reply November 13, 2012


    Thanks for your insight, Tracey. I hope that the things that you’ve learned from your own experiences will be a help to others. I’m not in media but have had similar experiences. I was on scheduled sick leave once for a minor op. The first I knew that I’d been “let go” was a payslip in the mail with the description “Term.” on it. Termination. That was it, after years with the company as one of its top-selling sales reps.
    I can’t watch the movie “In Good Company” without tearing up. My wife knows to get the tissues out for me when we start watching it.

  • Reply November 13, 2012


    Far too many companies keep the smile on their faces while hiding massive losses, hoping to ride it out.
    When the powers that be recognise that if that information is shared with workers and consumers – loyalty can often raise work ethics and turnover.
    Thankfully the changing times are sending a HUGE message to the ‘powers that be’ old management styles have no option but to see there is a different expectation from consumers now.
    It is sad – we’ve experienced extreme changes in the construction industry – the Sunshine Coast empties out with Dad’s on a regular basis, as they work away from home – not to create a nest egg – but to allow their families to survive.
    Ally – if you are reading this – get in contact and I might be able to help you sort out what sort of small business would suit you. Everyone has a talent that can be applied to a business model. kidzbizz at bigpond dot com
    And thankyou to The Hoopla for giving us interesting articles that tell it like it is 🙂

  • Reply November 13, 2012


    Hi Moorie,

    Excellent point about the NSW government and the public service – especially since it’s been revealed that they have a lot more money than they thought. I am back on 2UE from December 10 for five weeks. If there’s any industrial action, I know whose side I’ll be on!

  • Reply November 13, 2012

    anne louise

    Since the 80’s our culture has been evolving into one that accepts corporate greed, and arrogance is seen as a desirable attribute. This is what has nurtured the heartless element which is so visible in many of our workplaces today, I think. Frog marching people out of the office without the chance to finish up and say good bye is rude, mean and unnecessary. What do they think the ex employee is going to do? Whip all of their money out of the business? No, it’s already ear marked for upper management’s bonus payment.

    • Reply November 13, 2012


      Ha ha ha… You are so right, Anne Louise!

  • Reply November 13, 2012


    Where is the human dignity? Where is the 2 weeks notice?
    They (Channel 10) may as well shut up shop and for us writers and journos, the times may be changing for the industry, but at the heart of any industry humans deserve to be treated with respect. A program may not be working – but the workers should not fear for their livelihood.

  • Reply November 13, 2012


    What has happened is that union membership is now at 18%. The propaganda worked.

  • Reply November 13, 2012


    Whst did Helen do to get sacked?? I don’t understand. As far as I know, she didn’t do anything wrong. Am I missing something?

  • Reply November 13, 2012


    @Bridget: What you and many others of us are missing is that she didn’t need to do anything wrong in order to be treated like a piece of nothing. Power corrupts. Which is why countervailing /balance of power is always a necessity.

    The individual vs the corporation does not cut it. We women have a lot to learn about gaining clout in industrial relations that men learnt in 19th-20th centuries (but have mostly now forgotten). Sure it ‘s a different landscape now, but the power issue won’t go away no matter how much it is spun by the HR con. Time to wake up and fight (also, equal pay anyone?).

  • Reply November 13, 2012


    @Lydia – I have had similiar experiences with so called christian schools! Not very christian sometime! Yes they same don’t ‘hassle’ the employers but then others say to follow up because it shows you are keen and resilient – who knows.

    I know one day the right job at the right place will turn up and I will be very happy – the rest of it is a learning experience about what you don’t want for a job – a bit like dating lots of ‘frogs’ before you meet your ‘prince charming’ 🙂

  • Reply November 13, 2012


    I have just applied for a promotion internally. I have had three interviews with the person to whom the job reports – one of which where I had to present all my ideas and strategy. I then had another interview with the CEO. All good. Then nothing! No one has answered my emails, no appointment has been made and no one has called me. It’s been two months now.

    I thought I was cynical before about the way management treated people, but this treatment has even floored me. It does make me question whether I want to stay working here.

    Oh, and yes, it is a media company 🙂

  • Reply November 15, 2012

    Ross H

    Interesting observation about the public service aspect of things. Newman started canning jobs after he posted the big signs saying ‘trust me.’ Don’t know about the NSW position, but on election day, 1996, in the Canberra there were full-page ads featuring John Howard and his promises to the public service which included ‘a maximum of 2,500 jobs to go by natural attrition over three years.’ Within months there had been tens of thousands done away with. This was in direct accord with Peter Reith’s pre-election statement that they were going to ‘cut the public service off at the knees.’ Then some years later Peter Costello was shooting his mouth off that all these job losses in Canberra and elsewhere were actually a good thing.

  • Reply November 16, 2012


    I have recently completed 6 months “work experience at retail store. About a month before I finished I was going to be taken on for a shift a week. wasn’t going to complain because 1 shift a week while looking for more permanent work was better than nothing. When the time came to do all the paperwork etc I was promised 15hrs over 3 shifts per week, droping down to 2 shifts if money was tight. that was fine. My first week was 1 shift (paid by someone else. The other 2 were cancelled without me being told till after i’d completed a shift (was paid for it). Since then I’ve 3 shifts in 3 weeks. Not happy. At least I have a a current job though. It looks better on my resume while I look for more permanent work.

  • Reply October 14, 2013

    Sally MCglew

    The old adage that you never take holidays in radio is there for a reason. When you do, you’re job is not there when you come back! Radio is a law unto itself and has never abided by the same rules as other employers and other businesses. Here today, gone tomorrow – just like the songs on the dial.

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