Former TV reporter Christine Clayburg (a former meteorologist, reporter and program host for WCCO and KMSP in the Twin Cities) now runs a consulting business called Clayburg Communications, where she creates news-style PR videos for clients.
MinnPost’s David Brauer was tipped off by a reader that Clayburg’s website has a section dedicated to the company’s “U-Team”—” seasoned on-camera TV journalists with impeccable credentials interested in your GOOD NEWS. Many are still working in news now. …Maybe you just need an hour to talk to a professional about how to make a story or event news worthy. Or maybe you need the brain power for an entire world of online content with a professional well versed in life on both sides of the camera. We make it possible for you to talk straight to the experts on what makes news for as little cost as possible.”
If working TV journalists were taking money to consult with clients, that’d be a conflict of interest in most newsrooms. “At KSTP, our contract employees (that includes reporters, anchors and many producers) agree to provide services ‘exclusive’ to us. To provide services outside would put them in violation of their agreement with the Station,” assistant news director John Mason told Brauer.
Brauer asked Clayburg if this was really what was happening. She ultimately said that the U-Team didn’t include any anchors or prominent reporters, only freelancers, and “to be honest, we don’t do it very often,” she said.
“When I asked again if she currently employed anyone working in a Minnesota newsroom today,” Brauer writes, “she said, ‘Not at this time.’”
But Clayburg also said that the TV world is different now. “Stations are cutting back [on full-timers] more and more; someone who sells cars is doing weather on the weekends.”
That’s undeniably true. But is selling cars and doing weather the same thing as working as a media consultant at the same time as working in media? Considering the state of the news media, this may not even be a question anymore. Pretty soon this type of thing may become a necessity, with employers obliged to simply look the other way.