No-competes, is this the reason why people are disappearing from local media?

The New York Times had a story a week ago today, detailing the sins of local media. Ironically I found this story a week ago today as well via a Google search of “do meteorologists get laid off like journalists do?” Sadly our meteorologists in the Boston market are in awe of mini-me climate of Charleston, N.C. in the Northeast. Shut the fuck up please!

Of all the professions, perhaps none is more commonly bound by contracts that define where else an employee can go work than local television news.

The restrictions, known as noncompete clauses, have been a condition of the job for reporters, anchors, sportscasters and meteorologists for decades. More recently, they’ve spread to off-air roles like producers and editors — positions that often pay just barely above the poverty line — and they keep employees from moving to other stations in the same market for up to a year after their contract ends.

What would a producer or an editor be transferring that would be considered confidential to a competing station? Or is it something else?

The story focuses on a producer that’s been overworked

The pending rule would most likely help people like Leah Rivard, who produces the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts at WKBT in La Crosse, Wis.

She was hired in the summer of 2021, at an hourly rate of $15. A year later, the station brought on a cohort of recent journalism school graduates as part of a new training program that promised to pay off a chunk of their student loans. Several longer-tenured producers left, and Ms. Rivard wanted to leave, too, since she ended up having to teach a bunch of inexperienced young people how to write scripts and edit video.

When Ms. Rivard spoke to her managers, she was told that if she left for another station anywhere in the country before her contract expired this year, they could sue her. So she has continued to work for the station, an experience she’s called “absolute hell.” But even after her contract ends in June, a noncompete clause will prevent her from working for any of the other stations in La Crosse or Eau Claire, an hour and a half north, for a year after that.

“If your station is so toxic that it’s affecting you, and you want to leave, you have to leave news altogether and find a public relations job,” Ms. Rivard said. “It leaves no accountability for the company to be a good company for employees.”

Public relations jobs… humm I’ve seen a DOZEN people I follow in social media go as a PIO, Comms, public relations, etc. Yeah the work maybe less stressful, but you’re telling me it’s all about no-competes!?

Chris Palmer, WKBT’s general manager, said he believed noncompetes benefited both employers and employees.

But for people trying to leave from one toxic newsroom as refuge, the management and corporate doesn’t see it that way. Worse

Take Amy DuPont, one of Ms. Rivard’s former colleagues at WKBT. After working as an anchor in San Diego and Milwaukee, she moved with her husband to La Crosse, her hometown, after he retired from the military. When Ms. DuPont felt she had reached a breaking point at the station, she quit for a job in public relations. Other stations in town asked if she was interested in switching over, but she didn’t even try.

“Even if I wanted to, I’m not legally able to go there,” said Ms. DuPont, who now represents Kwik Trip, the Midwestern gas station chain. “For someone like me, who’s married and 43 years old with two children, and I own my home, it prevents me from doing my career, something I’ve spent 22 years doing.”

Nowhere in last week’s New York Times article say a damn thing about meteorologists or other toxic cultures other than sexual harassment that local stations could be holding their employees to a chain.

Comments were rather interesting from people who worked in the business, a one with radio experience and others saying “And for those saying a ban on these agreements is interfering in the free market, I would argue that the very existence of these agreements interferes in the free market in the sense that employees are not able to go where they are most valued.”

As a consumer, living in the Top Nine market, to see how shallow and near Top 100 market material pass as “news” stories.  Crime and drug stories even scaring my own family; to the shallowness of not covering serious, multi quarter, multi decade issues, not having special stories derived from same-day reporting.

yeeaaa capitalism… it can do no wrong!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *