|Life after journalism: It does exist|
|Wednesday, 14 July 2010 00:00|
By Diane Hess(original article here)
Two years ago, amid cutbacks at CBS, Scott Weinberger found himself without a job. Rather than accept offers at other networks, the on-air investigative reporter, a three-time Emmy Award winner, struck out on his own.In 2009, through a startup production company, Mr. Weinberger co-produced On the Case With Paula Zahn, a news magazine for the Investigation Discovery network. He drew on his experience co-producing a police reality series, The Academy, in 2005 and, before that, working as a sheriff in Broward County, Fla. Now ID’s highest-rated series, Ms. Zahn’s show was recently renewed for two more seasons. Meanwhile, Weinberger Media, which employs 30 people, is producing four other shows for various Discovery channels. Revenue has doubled in the past 12 months.
“I knew tons of people,” he says. That gave him an edge.
This year, Joe Dolce Communications is on track to double its revenue. Mr. Dolce is preparing to launch a new venture: a local marketing service for independent retailers, called Paper&String.com. For $2 per day, the service will enable them to advertise limited-time offers on Facebook, Twitter and mobile phones.
“We will work with retailers to say what they need in a specific way,” says Mr. Dolce. “Being an editor is fantastic training for that.”
Jay DeDapper was a TV reporter for two decades, most recently at WNBC, before setting up DeDapper Media, a multimedia production company near Gramercy Park. He, too, thinks his career training helped him get off to a strong start. His firm has generated revenue of $85,000 in its first six months of operation.
“The refusal to take ‘no’ for an answer that is necessary in journalism is critical as an entrepreneur,” Mr. DeDapper says.
There is a belief “ingrained in the journalism culture that as long as you work hard enough, you can make anything happen,” adds Bill McGowan, who created Clarity Media Group nine years ago after a 22-year TV career.
Mr. McGowan left his job as a producer for 20/20 in 2001 to create a TV production company that also trains people for media appearances, snaring a contract from MSNBC to produce news documentaries. When MSNBC shuttered its documentary unit after Sept. 11, Mr. McGowan suddenly had to turn media training from 15% of his business into 90%.
He tapped his journalism background, “and made the fact that I was a media coach the worst-kept secret,” he says. Today, midtown-based Clarity Media Group has 70 clients. The company charges $6,000 for a full-day media training session; revenue has quintupled since its inception and has exceeded seven figures. Mr. McGowan expects big growth this year from a new division that coaches people for job interviews.
“I am grateful that I got out of network television when I did, as there were early signs that things were going to get worse,” Mr. McGowan says. “I figured I was halfway through my career, and I didn’t want to turn 50 and be producing the same stories that I’d done for 20 years.”