Open letter for sports media folks who lose their jobs – it can be the best thing that ever happens to you

If trends at Tribune Media continue, management will have no one left to fire but themselves in February, 2023.

Dear sports media professional-

I have some bad news.  You are going to get fired.  That’s the way it is.  It might be tomorrow, next week, or next year, but the day will come that an employer will tell you to pack a box – or have security lead you to the front door with nothing more than a promise your personal items will be shipped to you.  It’s not a matter of if, but when.

At least you believe it’s bad news.

If this report of your professional demise sounds heartless and dire, it shouldn’t.  It’s just the reality of the business you have chosen.  You know the day is coming.  Trying to avoid it is as pointless as trying to get Paul George to stop sounding like a tone deaf diva.

When that day comes, your mood will darken.  It will feel strange to have been asked to leave behind all of the people with whom you have built relationships, and forget the responsibilities that defined your value.  But there will be a dim light shining on the path you should follow.  It will be fueled by an objective truth – the people who fired you almost certainly did it for no other reason than your salary fit within the guidances of a corporate mandate for expense cuts.  It wasn’t personal or even professional.  It was financial. The decision was driven by simple math.

Here’s a peek behind the curtain of management to show you exactly how your demise will come to be.  A downturn in profits driven either by a COVID level crisis or manmade malfeasance with motivate meetings in every market where your company owns outlets.  At that meeting, upper management will present a dollar amount the cluster must contribute to cuts.  Your boss’s task will be to decide how to execute the expense reduction with minimal reduction in content quality and quantity, AND limited legal exposure to the company.

Empathy bosses will struggle with the cuts and spend sleepless nights dreading the execution of the plan.  Management will meet again – this time with Human Resources folks – to compile the list of personnel who will pay for the economic shortfall.  The schedule for the terminations will be set – likely a few weeks out.  That sets up the worst period of any manager’s life – the time between knowing and communicating with the affected employees.

Then a meeting is scheduled, and you can’t believe your ears.  Even if an HR person is in the room when you walk in, you will still be in denial.  But suddenly your worst fear is realized, and you go numb.  Whatever is said after “Today is your last day with the company,” is lost in the deafening confusion as you try to process the sudden change to your life.  You might cry.  You might not.  If you feel like punishing the manager, turn loose the waterworks!  It makes them feel wretched.

You call family to tell them, and hopefully they say what I’m going to tell you now – this is a gift.  Instead of being locked into a reality that limits your potential, you are now free to reinvent your career in the way you always wanted it to be.  You can work for the company of your dreams – or for yourself.  All the doors through which you were reluctant to walk are now unlocked and what’s on the other side is much less unnerving.

The first move to make is reach out to friends – not for a job, but to communicate with people who love you and will treat you like the human being you are instead of the victim of corporate cruelty you temporarily believe yourself to be.  Remember, you are not a casualty, but the recipient of an opportunity.  The limits of your professional freedom are now only limited by your financial needs and imagination.

I’ve known media people who were great at their jobs who were fired.  I mean the best in their field.  It’s the fit of the numbers on that Excel spreadsheet, not the quality of the work that gets you canned.  There is nothing that can be done to stop efficiencies from being employed over the top of your gig.  That’s just the way it goes.

Stay strong.  Keep grinding.  Brighter days are up to you to discover.

If you have an issue believing any of this or need a next step plan, shoot me a DM on Twitter @kentsterling.



Leave a Reply

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