The Regrets of Going to Al Jazeera

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News Anchor Morgan Fogarty arrived at WCCB (Charlotte) from Hagerstown, Md., in 2005 with objectives that were pretty standard for a 23-year-old in the TV news business: Get to know Charlotte inside and out, make a memorable impression with her journalism, and then leave town as soon as she possibly could.

She ended up staying for a long time, but then got an offer to anchor at Al Jazeera. She thought that was her big break and took the job. 

“First of all, it’s not every day that a network opportunity comes your way,” Fogarty told the Charlotte Observer. “Number two, it’s not every day that a brand-new network starts up. I thought that would be a fascinating experience, if nothing else, to see how a new network started.

“I knew that they weren’t going to cut corners anywhere. I knew that they had deep pockets, and that they were gonna spend money. And it was New York. I was gonna be a New York-based anchor. I thought, ‘If I pass on this opportunity, am I gonna regret it later?’ ”

But the dream job quickly turned into a nightmare. 

She says the Al Jazeera operation seemed disorganized, and that few details had been nailed down, even though they were literally just weeks away from launching. There also was confusion about who was going to be doing what, where and how; it almost felt like they had hired too many people, she says.

Anchors weren’t getting to see content before rehearsals, she says, and the content they were rehearsing focused heavily on international news. Quickly and quietly, she says, her new colleagues began sharing with each other their concerns about the lack of emphasis on stories dealing with the U.S.

Then her bosses told her they were sending her to Doha, Qatar, for “about three weeks, so that you can become fluent in Middle Eastern news.”

It was at that point she knew the gig wasn't for her, she returned to WCCB and just signed a long-term deal to that keeps her at the station until 2022. 

Fogarty learned a lesson that all of us that have worked in TV news has learned. If you're in a city you love and a station you like working at, just stay. 

So often TV people are thinking about the next gig, that they don't realize that the gig they have is pretty good. 

Fogarty is lucky she was able to return to the city that she loved and get her old job back. 

But, her story should be a lesson to everyone in TV news....look before you leap.

It's some damn good advice. 

H/T Charlotte Observer