Ways to Keep Your MMJs
By Gary Brown
CEO, Owner of Talent Dynamics
Multimedia journalists, multi-platform journalists, whatever you call them, good luck finding one.
There’s a shortage brewing of qualified, available candidates who are willing to do the job on a long-term basis. The reasons: historically the industry paid MMJs less than traditional reporters. So, a journalist used it as a way to get into a larger market station with the hopes of getting promoted to a reporter role where they would not have to MMJ anymore.
Now some groups are doubling down on hiring more MMJs and they are paying them more than ever before, but the catch is, these roles will not lead to a reporter role. This is the pain point, the conflict, whatever you want to call it, and why some stations are having trouble finding MMJs who want to MMJ.
The idea of one person shooting and reporting their own story has been with the TV industry since the cameras were loaded with film. MMJs in some form have been part of life in the smallest of markets for years.
But in larger markets, the trend started in the early 2000s. It was seen as a way to gather more content while keeping costs low. A station that paid a reporter $70,000 a year could hire an MMJ for $50,000. Typically, after a year or two that MMJ could get “promoted” to a reporter role at $60,000 or $65,000 a year and not have to shoot their own stories, but the station still saves money.
Until the job seekers see that going to MMJ in a larger market is all about telling stories and improving their craft in a more competitive place vs. a means to an end to become a general assignment reporter and make more money, there will be some that hold out for those jobs instead.
In 2023 several groups are hiring more MMJs than ever before. They are putting a focus on community coverage and enterprise reporting — all needed for our industry to remain viable. But there is not a large enough pool of good, available MMJs who are willing to MMJ for the term of their contract.
So, what is a hiring manager to do? First off, follow the lead of some of the other broadcasters and reward journalists for being an MMJ. Don’t use the role as an entry point into your newsroom. Pay them at least, if not more than, what a GA reporter would make in your shop. Make sure anyone you hire knows where that MMJ can lead them in your organization.
Also, set reasonable expectations for them and their day. If you expect an MMJ to report, shoot, edit two different packages each day, that seems excessive.
At the end of the day didn’t we all get into journalism to tell stories and make a difference? Anything we can do that helps tell more stories and be impactful should be what the industry is about.
Gary Brown is the CEO and Owner of Talent Dynamics, home of the TV news industry’s largest video database for on-air and off-air talent. He can be reached at Brown@talentdynamics.com and their website is www.talentdynamics.com.