My Self-Inflicted Demise



Jan 10, 2009 7:26 PM EST

So the rumor coming off of One Jefferson Pilot Place in Charlotte is that Tonia Bendickson is no longer at WBTV.  Any truth to it, and was it anything other than more budget cuts? (She anchored last night at 5:30, and her bio is off the website).

The rumor – sparked this weekend by this entry on the TVSPY watercooler – a website for chat within the news business.  I think it raises important questions for journalists, as well as any of us whose workplaces have recently experienced layoffs, hiring freezes, or cutbacks.

Are we jumping to conclusions more often now because of the emotionally charged environments we’re working in?

Hundreds of our colleagues across the nation have been laid off.  We recently lost our managing editor and our helicopter pilot here at WBTV due to economic challenges.  So the economic realities of this country are directly affecting us.  And we’re sensitive to the loss of our friends’ jobs.  But why do we assume the worst?  Before asking any questions, before seeking the truth, why do we assume a station would delete an employee’s bio on its station website and send someone packing without any notice?  Is it really THAT bad in our business?

The hilarious truth is, I accidentally deleted my own bio after editing it Friday.  We can’t really figure out “how” I did it.  It was still there when I last worked on it.  But I am a newbie to our website technology (which is not as easy as posting to a blog or working on my MAC) and I somehow scheduled it for deletion, or changed its category, or something – to spark this little local drama.

It’s been both a troubling AND a reassuring experience.  Thank you to all of you who called or wrote to say you hoped it wasn’t true.  But the troubling thing is, it points to our eagerness to believe the worst.

Nelson Poynter told us “Remember to inform first, judge last.”

My bio was gone.  But the reasons behind it were innocent and simple – even funny, now.  As journalists, we’re faced with unanswered questions in dramatic situations every day.  Let’s remember to step back, take a breath, and not jump to conclusions.  It’s a good reminder to all of us, in any profession to have some faith in the people we work for and with every day.  They’re not out to get us.  They’re our friends, just doing the best they can in a very challenging world. 

My bio is back on the site, now.  And Paul has the courage to ask me for help changing his.  Now that’s a true friend. 🙂

4 Comments on “My Self-Inflicted Demise

  1. I am sure glad that it wasn’t true! I would miss seeing your beautiful self. Ecspecially since I feel like I never get to see you in person anymore.

    🙂 Love ya!

  2. Tonia I really miss you and it doesn’t seem real without you. You were the most relatable and the reason that I watched WBTV. I know that you will shine where ever you go. You are a my inspiration and hero. You are truly missed.

  3. Tonia,
    What are you doing now? WBTV drives me crazy getting rid of their employees. You were one of the best. WHAT IS THEIR PROBLEM?

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