Thoughts on an “Open Letter to Rupert Mudoch”

While this is a bit off topic on my usual ruminations about Life After Kids, many of my former colleagues are being affected by a horrible trend in large corporations to make deep and seemingly random cuts and that happened to me too.  However,  I chose to use my new status to “follow my bliss.” I now had real chunks of time to write, read, heal, travel and, more importantly, renew my faith in myself, which I know will lead to my new career path.  For some of my friends and former colleague that may not be so easy and my heart breaks for them as they face unemployment after giving their lives to their jobs.

Here is my response to a letter that a former colleague wrote and which was posted in the LA Observed and on Facebook:

As many of you know, I was “downsized” from my Fox11/My13 almost 7 months ago with 9 other long-time employees who may never work in their chosen career again. I was one of the short-timers – with almost ten years with the company under my belt. One of the other  gentlemen who was  laid off  had worked for the station in all of its iterations for almost 50 years.  Unbelieveable!

Not much of a ripple was made out of this news as the “numbers” of laid-off were low and how they handled it was akin to a CIA operation.  They sneak you in, you pack up your things and they sneak you out.  No farewell parties or goodbyes, just a clean surgical break.  As for me, it was the best thing that could’ve happened to me, but for others that is not the case and as it turns out, that just barely the tip of the iceberg. Next week, on September 11th (an apt date if there were any),  almost 100 employees will be escorted out the door of Los Angeles’ Fox Television Center, their home away from home for many years and more layoffs have been announced.

What the hell is going on here?

Personally, it is my belief that many corporations are using the “dire” predictions of continued economic downturn to fatten their coffers for their shareholders, break unions and probably some other machivellian agenda at the expense of their worker bees.

Where is the fairness when top executives get platinum parachutes and stock options and huge bonuses when a company is doing well, and also when it is not. Fox and other corporations, are in the business of making money but when is enough enough? If a company is still making money, does a percentage drop mean a company should sacrifice those who consider themselves part of the family? With all these high paid executives, do you think someone could figure out a way to do business better and leaner without taking their pounds of flesh?

How many of the top executives & sales people got laid off in this massacre? I mean if those who lead the company were doing their jobs, staying on top of current trends in advertising, marketing, promotion and social media – don’t you think they could find ways to run the company better, sell more advertising, cut corners not people?

I wonder how many people in the network programing department are overpaid for churning out the same old drivle that people no longer want to watch? How many of them lost their jobs for spending way too much money on crappy television shows? I could go on and on but I think you got the picture.

And then, how many Senior VP’s and VP’s does it take to run a company?  Not the beginning of a joke, but in a way it is.  I mean Fox is known to be one of the most top heavy companies around in the number of high-level executives.  Something is out of whack here, a company can only be as good as its worker bees – they are the ones who put in the hours to produce  the sweetest honey and now, they are being toss aside and replaced with automation, and robots and hubs. “They” may call their product “honey” but it’s going to be one sad imitation of the real thing.

This past week the Los Angeles Times lambasted local TV news coverage of the Station Fire. They (the stations) didn’t cover it soon enough, didn’t take it seriously enough and laid blame at the feet of the news departments where it did not belong.  Local news departments are being cut back, consolidated and crimped beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.  Many of those laid off at KTTV in the news and engineering departments were not in redundant positions.

Why doesn’t  the LA Times do a piece on the eviceration and ultimate extinction of  local TV stations or why doesn’t the Times’ Editor write a letter to Rupert directly and ask how stations are expected to cover local breaking events with a skeleton or sometimes non-existent crew. And soon, how will someone running master control in Phoenix know that a fire in Glendale is important enough to cut away from “I Love Lucy” re-reruns?

What happened to the American Dream? Why is a large percent of the country’s wealth spread among the very few? What happened to the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation and taking chances in the face of “dire” news predictions. Why can’t we invest in good workers in the good times as well as the bad.

So many questions, but no real answers.  That is the sad state of affairs local stations are facing, and the sad state of affairs these local layoffs will have on our local and national economy. This is a very sad time for many of my friends and former colleagues.

I have lived long enough to know that the economy will cycle back but good men and women and their families will be destroyed by companies they gave their lives to. Where are these 100 plus people going get work and be able to support their families?  Will they be forced to leave L.A., California for places they can live more economically.

I am blessed that my kids are on their own and I don’t need as much to live on as I used to, I am computer literate and can get a job as a high-level assistant if need be, but that may not be the case for so many others who are the most highly-skilled in their field.  I, too, think about leaving for a cheaper place to live with more chance to find work.

So I will take a chance to assume that with many of those same thoughts in mind, Mark Sudock, one of the most recent victims of the KTTV layoffs, and may I add, one of the most decent men I have ever met, wrote an open letter to Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch which was published in the LA OBSERVED.

Please read this articulate & passionate plea and then please pass it on to your friends. Maybe someone’s friend is connected to Rupert and maybe it will get to him, maybe it won’t, maybe he will care, maybe he won’t. Will he do something even if he does care, unfortunately probably not, but we are all made better by knowing that someone like Mark Sudock cared enough to ask on all of our behalf.

http://www.laobserved.com/archive/2009/09/open_plea_to_rupert_murdo.php

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10 responses to “Thoughts on an “Open Letter to Rupert Mudoch”

  1. I heard this 10 years ago – it sounded extreme back then, but now it feels very real – what do you think?

    • Very omniscient on the part of Noam Chomsky, seems like he knew then what we are finding out now. Thank you for sharing that speech.

      • Dear Marla,
        I read and like your blog. How did the letter to Rupert Murdoch go.
        My wife and I had a conversation this morning about the need for us to
        keep downsizing and make better consumer decisions. The american
        dream is dead. It s time for us without the government to create a
        new dream. A dream that doesn’t include life on the plantation.

      • Not sure if there was any more traction to my pal Mark Sudock’s letter, I must check, but I did receive a very lovely comment today that I would love you to read.

  2. Michael Westerberg

    As one of my co-workers put it…Unfortunately we don’t have careers anymore, now we only have jobs! As of today I have just 14 days left until my 15 year run with my company comes to an end. What strikes me about the decisions that are being made, is that once you “Displace” is the new term, once you displace your seasoned, well trained, tenured Intellectual Assets it will take YEARS to replace many of these incredible employees! if the logic is to hunker down to survive these challenging times that is understandable, however it seems to me to be a very short sighted approach eliminating jobs, instead of finding other ways to save costs. Jobs are fundamental to our economy, we should be finding ways to keep jobs not eliminate them. I have seen some of the most intelligent people I know, and many good friends loose their jobs over the last two years, people who took great pride like the FOX employees, in the job they did and the company they worked for, it has been a long and painful two years! If people are fed up they need to get involved. If you have stock in any of these companies you have a vote, you have say, but you need to get involved. In closing 14 days left for me, I hope for the best for my friends and all those “displaced” at FOX!

  3. Hey Marla!

    Not only do I agree with you 120%, I wrote my own response on my website for all to see–it’s amazing how stupid they think we are. In time they will pay with black on air or a local emergency, as you pointed out, with not a soul around to cover it or control it.

    Then what will those overpaid {insert expletive here} VP’s do? Cash in their options worth $3.21? They’ll only have themselves to thank–we’ll all be gone…

    Love-Roger

  4. Hi my dear.. wow so nice to meet you!

    I love your line early on in the post:

    “time to….renew my faith in myself, which I know will lead to my new career path.”

    I love the topic of your blog… where did you work before?

    I have little kids and I’d like a bit of that ‘bliss’! 🙂

    • Thank you Carissa for stopping by and your kind comments. It’s mommies like you who inspire me…You Rock!

    • I forgot to add that the past 10 years were at the local Fox affiliate duopoly (they had absorbed another independent station as they did all over the country.) Prior to that I worked for a couple of startups that went dotcom BOOM….and before that network television mostly in ad/promo/production. 🙂

  5. Marla;

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and for your openness. It is refreshing and delightful.

    I have many thoughts and comments after reading your post – I tend to be a ‘stream of consciousness’ thinker and yes, observer of the obscure as you coined it on Twitter.
    As a reformed print media publisher, I have several friends here in Australia – I understand how a few high paid executives run these corporations which are quickly losing relevance in both their context and content. Body counts don’t improve ratings and crap television programming is only going to get blocked, TIVOd, or flicked.

    When I sit and discuss social media with said TV exec mates, their eyes glaze over…for them content is still all about a box, not about the end-viewer. The future is all about small screens and real-time sharing. Viewers want content that they can participated in, not merely observe. When the marketing dollar is redirected to engaged platforms the lifeblood of these companies will cease to exist. (My guess, five years max lifespan.) More jobs will cease to exist and rather than start looking for the new, next wave of delivering RELEVANT content (i.e. what people want to view or care about) using places that they like to view this content) people are still dodging the proverbial axe.

    Thankfully, I decided that after the .com crash (and being a asset that was made redundant from CMGI at the end of 2000) that I was the best driver of my own future and have always remained independent of the big media machines (like Fox and New Ltd). I have had friends work in print and television whose jobs were displaced in the GFC worldwide. Losing one’s job, income, etc. is dreadful in any economy, not just this one and not just right now. My heart and prayers go to those who have had to undergo that who nightmare and displacement.

    In the Chinese language the symbol for chaos with the symbol of opportunity. Know that there are emerging groups who are reviewing where news in real time is lacking and from this will evolve a new, sharing and empowered economy as it pertains to news and media. Like Berlin Walls, the separation between those who want news and those who decided what should be pushed forward as “news” is eroding and the sides will blend. News is becoming an on-demand, on-topic commodity and everyone has something to sell (their story, their experience). Film makers, bloggers and individuals with camera phones empowered by social media strategists will rise as the true platform for real time news becomes more obvious.

    I say hold the letter to Rupert for now. Take the energy and redirect it into finding the opportunities that exist from the lack of quality or care the big corporations are giving. Let News and Fox fumble around for another year or so, worry about share prices, board meetings, etc. and while they are busy let us as the future of media ask what is important to our social graphs. Let us use our technology and the point and click tools to deliver news in an organized fashion and allow others to collaborate in real time. NOWISM is the new black.

    This is an opportunity economy and a chance for people to work passionately with things that they care about or have a special skill and rise above the drone. Everyone has something to add. Personally, I am excited about the future and the potentiality. If there is anything I can do to facilitate you and your dreams, goals or visions, please drop me an email it is on my blog page or DM me as @Digitalgodess on Twitter.

    Your son sounds like a real winner…mine is only 3 years old presently so i have much to look forward to.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Stephenie Rodriguez

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