When I was a new college grad, the economy wasn’t great. It took me over a year to get the call for a job that was in my field and permanent. Right before that time, there was a corporation that hired me to work as a temp in their PR office. I was young, naive, and very new with my relationship with Christ.
I learned fast I was the thing that didn’t belong in that place. It was cutthroat, you were to work as a team but be about yourself, always ready to move ahead at any cost. I was point blank told by my boss not to have anything to do with the blue collar workers at the plant. We were the white collar employees and we stuck together.
Well, I obeyed that one for, well under a minute. I’m a blue collar girl and the only person who spoke to me was my dear friend’s fiancee, and he worked the floor. He treated me kinder than anyone, including the team I was supposed to be loyal to.
During one staff meeting the boss handed me a little tidbit that haunts me to this day. The way they (and it was assumed if I was ever in her position, which was the last thing I wanted,) operated in the white collar offices was to hire the blue collars as temps with the promise that after a few months, they will be brought on as true employees of the company–permanent and with benefits. Thing was, when the temp contact was up and the person with a family to feed and health care on the line was ready to receive that contact, they were instead let go. Because they were always employees of the temp agency, and the company saved money using temps.
I knew that moment I would never last in corporate communications, even if I wanted to. I also thought I’d never see such bad behavior on behalf of executives again.
Then came last week.
I started watching NBC morning news programming when I was in high school, circa late 1980′s. I had a little TV in my room (believe it or not, it still works and is in our bedroom) where I’d get ready watching the news before the Today show. There was an anchor named Ann Curry that I looked forward to watching. She knew her news, she was objective, and a mom-like compassion that was the real deal surrounded her interviews. I remember her announcing her pregnancies, and I remember her moving to the Today Show.
I watched Today for the news. That first half hour was always the most important to me, and that was where Ann always was. She broke the news to me day after day, year after year. When she received the co-anchor spot last year, I was thrilled for her, but a little nervous. I watched in the last ten years the news get shorter and shorter, and the fluff grow. Anyone remember when the Today show followed JLo and her then boyfriend, Ben Affleck in their limo to a boys and girls club as if it was a presidential motorcade? Interviews with Kate Gosselein?
It wasn’t too long ago I saw headlines popping up, admittedly not from true news, that part of Matt Lauer’s re-signing his contact at I believe 20+ million a year was that Ann would be out as co-anchor, and he would have a say in who would be in. Whispers became roars and I heard Ann would be gone after the Olympics. Suddenly, it was before the Olympics. I blinked, and learned I just watched her last day.
When every other co-anchor left, even the recently non-anchor departed to GMA Amy Robach, a big deal was made with a genuine farewell. Merdeith Viera received a flashmob song. Ann? A less than five minute goodbye where she broke down and apologized.
Her seat wasn’t even cold and Savannah Guthrie was named the new co-host. A few days later NBC news president Steve Capus decided to pour gas on the firestorm by saying Ann had a year to prove herself and failed–because she wasn’t great at cooking segments and celebrity interviews.
Wow, NBC. Did you mentor the company I used to temp for? Which by the way, they forgot they shared that nugget with me, and when my contact was up, they left me a voicemail announcing they had no plan to keep me on. I laughed, because by then, the job I was meant to have was mine. But what a crappy way to treat people.
And that’s where I’m at with the executives behind the Today show. What that news president said about Ann is to me, a compliment. She’s so good at news that is why I watched, and I suspect when they were ratings winners, why others watched. The ratings slide, I believe, came as cooking segments, fashion fluff and ridiculous interviews including Sasha Baron Cohen showing up in character from his role as “The Dictator” dominated The Today show. News? Get it in the first ten minutes.
Ann will prosper, I have no doubt. I know she received a lot of money, but what makes her valuable is this: her grace. Class. Professionalism. Savannah? She’s in a near impossible position, and I don’t envy her. Matt Lauer? The day of taking his side after the glib Tom Cruise interview, I know I’m over it. Whether the rumor is true or not, his “affection” toward Ann during her goodbye has been dubbed Judas’ kiss. The public reaction to this is overwhelmingly against Matt.
Once I left that corporate temp job, I went into not for profit, where everyone was blue collar. There was team work, and everyone mattered.
As for my news routine? Imagine the timing. I became a Nielsen family the day Ann was let go, and recorded my switch to Good Morning America.
How about you? Do you have any corporate horror stories? Are you a morning news watcher?