Budland: Who are these people?

For a while there, it seemed like the pre-requisites for being a news director at a local television station in America included Type A behavior, paranoia and fronting as "tough" in lieu of actual leadership. My 15-year experience at CBS's affiliate service brought me into contact with news directors from stations across the country. Most were nice, normal people who were team players and had a sense of being part of a greater whole, e.g., a family of cooperating stations. However, quite a few, almost always at the CBS-owned stations, were constantly scared, aggressively demanding and downright nasty. You could attribute some of their behavior to the fact that CBS-owned stations in major markets were all fighting uphill ratings battles at the time (90's into the 2000's) and were annoyed at the amount they had to pay in "comps" to the mother ship, their annual compensation to CBS for the alleged benefits they received being an owned station. They wanted their money's worth out of us, and so nothing else mattered. A couple stand out vividly in my mind, but they shall remain anonymous lest I get my ass sued. This particular attitude presented great, ongoing challenges to managers who had to balance the sometimes unreasonable demands of local stations against the sheer stamina and physical abilities of reporters, producers and photographers. As someone who revered our employees as our most important resource, these particular news directors, and certain bosses who cuddled-up to them, made me sick. The customer is NOT always right. My increasing frustration with the nature of this arrangement probably contributed to me getting fired in 2007. At least I didn't go to jail, as Bud Remmick does in "Budland."


I can't say any news director who I knew was as heinous as the guy depicted in "Budland". That character is based on several people--some news directors, some not--who had particularly irritating views on how employees should be treated. I am unaware of any overt physical abuse perpetrated against an employee the likes of which are related in "Budland." As we know, however, if such abuse went on, we wouldn't necessarily have known about it.


The fantasy of exacting revenge against an asshole boss is universal. There have been movies made and daydreams are abundant. It really wasn't hard to conjure up a nasty bad guy based on my experience and my imagination. Without giving too much away, let me just say that revenge has a price, and playing God is a dangerous game.

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