Until last Thursday, Kai Nagata was the CTV Quebec City Bureau Chief at the tender age of 24. By the weekend, he had the Canadian news industry talking and the Twitter world buzzing when he quit a job many could only dream of and published a 3,000 word manifesto on his blog about why.
“I quit my job because the idea burrowed into my mind that, on the long list of things I could be doing, television news is not the best use of my short life,” he wrote when referring to how in the 10 months he worked at CTV, and time spent before at CBC, he had become disillusioned with how much attention broadcasters paid to increasing ratings, rather than focusing on real issues. The wall-to-wall coverage of the recent Royal visit was a glaring example in his eyes. The amount that TV focuses on appearance and the fact that he could no longer hold his breath on his political opinions also led him to his decision.
His site received more than 100,000 views within two days. Currently it has over 1,000 comments. He was retweeted with words of encouragement, among them many journalists. Some want him for prime minister.
But he also received comments on his naivety. Many agreed he was too quick to quit and his criticisms of journalism offered nothing new. Yes, TV news has its superficial downfalls, but it’s been like that for a long time, blogged journalist Max Fawcett. As a journalist, it’s part of the job description to keep opinions to yourself, he adds equaling Nagata’s post to a temper tantrum. In response to Nagata, Sandra Thomas wrote in the Vancouver Courier, “I didn’t quit my job because as a journalist I refuse to give up, pack up my truck and drive away into the sunset.”
Long-time news and documentary producer Howard Bernstein wrote on his media criticism blog, “Nobody has ever changed things for the better by walking away. By leaving he has in fact, helped those that seek to trivialize broadcast journalism and ceased to be of aid to those who want to make it better.” He writes about his similar experience and regret of quitting Global TV after his boss pulled the news crew from covering the Oka Crisis because their license had been renewed.
Nagata isn’t the first journalist to quit and probably won’t be the last, blogged journalist Robin Rowland, but he struck a chord with many people, especially those of his generation, who feel the same way.
It wasn’t the best week for broadcast journalism either when a journalist of 42 years, Claude Adams, blogged about the end of his TV career at CBC where he was fired as a part-time writer for making a mistake in a story about a dog. His script for the anchor incorrectly said the animal was dead. For Adams, TV journalism has gone to the dogs.