Two months before I was fired, I received this Certificate of Appreciation along with a $100 bonus.
Jobs are like women: they come and they go. Sometimes you get lucky and find a perfect match. Usually you don’t but stick it out until someone calls it quits.
Well NBC Miami called it quits on me last Monday. After such a short relationship, I was left perplexed.
They said I was more of a field worker than an office worker, which is what the job entailed. And they are right.
I am a journalist. A reporter who prefers to go out and get the story rather than rewrite somebody else’s story, which is what the job entailed.
I like to develop sources by meeting people face to face. I like to be on the scene of breaking news, snapping photos, shooting video and asking questions. But that is not what the job entailed.
Nevertheless, I liked my job at NBC. I liked the people I worked with. I liked the opportunity to improve their site. And I think I did.
They wanted multimedia stories, I gave them multimedia stories. Something the other NBC Miami reporters do not do.
When the streets of South Beach were flooded after an intense storm, I walked through waist-deep water for several blocks shooting photos and video and getting interviews.
When right-wing Cubans clashed with moderate Cubans at Versailles over the Juanes concert, I immersed myself in the protest for several hours – and spent the entire night editing photos and writing a story – resulting in a multimedia package the following morning that prompted personal compliments from the big boss in New York.
I did this after working an eight-hour shift that Sunday afternoon.
When a group of local food bloggers organized a pizza crawl, I covered it with video, photos and an article, bringing mainstream media exposure to the South Florida blogosphere.
When an 83-year-old pilot landed his plane on the expressway, I was the only reporter to interview him because he became shy and hid in the car when the television reporters got there.
I showed up after they left and got him to talk to me as well as pose in front of his airplane for a photo. That story generated thousands of page views and hundreds of comments after it was posted on The Drudge Report (the comments were all lost during NBC Miami’s redesign transition).
Also, when they were unable to persuade a newsroom videographer to work after midnight to shoot bars and lounges for their Golden Local awards, I agreed to shoot the videos myself, which were broadcast on NBC-6′s television news segments.
I even received a Certificate of Appreciation along with a $100 bonus for the work I did during the redesign transition a couple of months back.
They also wanted stories written with “outrage” and a “point of view”, which is how they described it in their stylebook. Well I gave them that too.
But perhaps I was a little too outraged. A little too opinionated.
At least one local police department called my editor and complained. I thought I was just following the stylebook, but then my boss told me my articles are coming across too much like editorials.
And she was right. But what do you expect when you encourage reporters to write with “outrage” and a “point of view”?
So I toned the outrage and point of view down. And I continually suggested that they allow me get out of the office to write more original stories, but they preferred I stayed in the office to rewrite stories from other news sites.
And on weekends that can be tough because it can be kind of slow. Local newspaper newsrooms are not fully staffed. And neither is the NBC-6 newsroom.
Plus, they also discouraged what they called “low-brow crime stories”, which is what makes up most of the news on weekends.
During the week, the NBC Miami team has the advantage of fully staffed newsrooms at the local newspapers and at NBC-6. The morning reporter also has the advantage that he can focus on rewriting stories because the editor is posting these stories and other stories.
But I had to do all that myself on weekends.
Perhaps their decision had something to do with Bill Cooke of Random Pixels calling them a multitude of times and complaining about me.
That’s the kind of guy he is. The kid who punches you first on the playground, then runs crying to the teacher when you punch him back.
He has called me everything from a “cockroach and boil on the ass of journalism” to an “asshole” with “arrogant, crass, thug-like behavior.”
Yet when I called him a “grouchy old prick” on his blog once (a comment he never approved), he called my boss at NBC to complain.
Perhaps I should not have called him that, but I figured that anybody who can be so vile in his comments would be able to handle a few verbal jabs.
That’s usually the way it is in the blogosphere. For example, Rick of the South Florida Daily Blog called me an “arrogant prick” on his then-active Stuck on the Palmetto blog after I got arrested And this is a guy who doesn’t even allow profanity on his current blog.
How did I respond? I launched this blog and dedicated a post to him. I fight words with words.
That is what I expected Bill to do. Instead, he tattled on me.
After receiving his complaint, my boss called me and told me not to comment on anything related to NBC Miami that Bill wrote on his blog. And I agreed.
But two days later, I couldn’t resist dedicating a post to him that revealed his hypocrisy when he insulted local publicist Tara Solomon, then removed the post after he photographed her for the Miami New Times. It had nothing to do with NBC Miami, so I figured I was safe. And I admit I did so because I was upset that he had called my boss and tattled on me.
So the following morning he called my boss again. Then he called her boss. And finally he called NBC human resources in New York.
That’s the kind of guy he is.
And I know what you’re saying, I should have just ignored him. But I’ve never been one to bite my tongue.
NBC’s human resources department was unsure how to handle this. There is nothing in their employee policy that addresses personal blogs. You can bet there will be now.
So I was told I had to apologize to him. For what, I really don’t know because everything I said about him was true.
But I did apologize because as I said, I liked my job. And I wanted to keep it.
But jobs are like women. You never know when they are going to have a change of heart.
Just over a week after I called him and apologized, I was fired.
Fortunately, I have my media business to fall back on. I have enough regular clients to keep me afloat and hopefully I will receive some donations to my Legal Defense Fund, which allows me to pay off those legal bills that maxed out all of my credit cards.
But having a regular gig with a regular paycheck was nice, so I have my eyes open for any positions at companies that would appreciate my skills. I take journalism very seriously. I am very passionate about my work. And I always give it more than 100 percent.
Here is my resume in case any potential employers are interested in a multimedia journalist who can write, takes photos and shoot videos. I am a new media journalist with an old media background. I have 14 years of professional experience.
I hold no resentment against NBC Miami. I am grateful that they gave me the opportunity in the first place. They took a chance on me and I will always appreciate that.
And I hold no resentment against Bill Cooke, even though he is probably gleeful at the news of me losing my job. That’s just the kind of guy he is.
“Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.” Henry Anatole Grunwald
“I have spent half my life trying to get away from journalism, but I am still mired in it — a low trade and a habit worse than heroin, a strange seedy world full of misfits and drunkards and failures.” Hunter S. Thompson
“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” Thomas Jefferson
I am a multimedia journalist who has been fighting a lengthy legal battle after having photographed Miami police against their wishes in Feb. 2007. Please help the fight by donating to my Legal Defense Fund in the top left sidebar, which helps pay for the thousands of dollars I’ve acrued in debt since my arrest. To keep updated on the latest articles, join my networks at Facebook, Twitter and Friendfeed.