Saturday, August 30, 2008

Advice from an ex: Ed Bark

Ed Bark needs little introduction. He was the longtime television critic who left the Morning News during the buyouts of 2006.
I'm one of those who took the Sept. '06 buyout for reasons that I think are obvious to the great, great majority of my former colleagues. If not, you could still read the "Why I'm Here" page on unclebarky.com, the local and national TV website that was launched on Sept. 2006.

So how's it been?

Well, it's been liberating, hard work and very educational. The one thing you learn early on is that people will make promises or assurances they never keep. That includes buying advertising, attending Uncle Barky Shows (the seventh will be at Stratos Greek Taverna on Sat., Sept. 13 with guest Mark Cuban) or staying in touch.

But that's human nature. And unclebarky.com has survived because a good deal of people in fact support it as an independent voice in the country's fifth largest TV market. It's certainly not a moneymaking machine, but the satisfaction is priceless. I didn't want to just talk a good game about the value of local TV coverage at the DMN. I wanted to follow through and act on my words. In that sense, mission accomplished. And freelancing opportunities have opened up as well, including two articles in the NY Times. Pretty heady stuff for a kid from small-town Racine, Wis. My pulse hadn't raced that fast since my very first "official" byline in the Madison Capital Times.

I do miss the companionship of many of my onetime DMN colleagues. Blogging is a pretty solitary existence, although I hate that particular term and prefer to call myself a web journalist. In that respect, I'm writing much in the way I'd wanted to continue writing for the DMN. A little more "attitude" maybe, but otherwise journalism fit for both a print newspaper and a Web site.

It won't be easy out there, obviously, for those who want to continue as journalists after either taking the latest buyout or getting severed against their will. But follow your passion. Stand up for yourself. You'll feel better inside even if the finances take a pretty big hit.

I wish everyone well.