Reality and Kai Nagata

[The following is about former Kai Nagata’s blog post “Why I quit my job” about his resignation as CTV’s Quebec City Bureau Chief.]

I understand what it’s like to be 24 and in a job that seems enviable to a lot of others but that’d you’d like to quit on a daily basis. I’m sure lots of us have had daydreams of leaving jobs we hated with a great screw-you flourish.

The truth is, there are very few people I know who genuinely love their jobs, even the ones who have their idea of a “dream job”. This is especially true in journalism, where people are being told they need to do much more in less time while having a larger number of skills and accepting less pay and benefits. Even the great jobs have slog-filled moments, minor annoyances and some sort of office politics. There is no job purely made up of sunshine and rainbows. This is the mystical unicorn of employment fantasies.

The reality is, starting at the bottom involves a lot of paying your dues. Sometimes, that includes unpaid internships. Kai even admitted he got a lot of control in his position as Quebec City Bureau Chief.

That being said, I don’t know how much Kai did to try and change things internally during his time in his position. I don’t know if he had an internal mentor or manager he could reach out to regularly to ask for advice or suggestions on how to change things. Maybe he really did try to stick around for as long as he could and ended up with little motivation to stay.

Still, by writing the letter Kai seriously burned his bridges to two of the biggest media companies in the country and pissing off lots of other journalists. And while many applauded his blog post, it’s worth nothing how small and well-connected the journalism industry is as a whole in this country. Being well-known for your this-is-why-I’m-quitting letter over your notable experience on two major television networks isn’t exactly something you should or would want to put on your resume.

(Kai’s I’m-in-TV-but-don’t-own-a-TV point also strikes me as a bit bizarre. How else would you check in on how other networks are scooping you? I guess in the age of the internet, you could livestream or Youtube all your competitors instead, but that seems much more cumbersome and likely to be less thorough.)

If anything, this whole ‘saga’ (as CBC’s Kevin D’Souza put it earlier today) highlights the need for journalism students and aspiring journalists to really research what the hell they want to go into and be prepared to do what it takes.

Case in point: I’m someone who really doesn’t like wearing makeup. Bearing this in mind, I knew if I wanted to be involved in television it would only be in a role behind the scenes and that would never give my parents the joy of being able to point to the television and excitedly telling others “That’s my kid!”

Likewise, I know that even print jobs require some sort of multi-media experience. If that means watching videos of other great young journalists, investing in some decent entry-level gear and taking the time to learn video-editing, that’s a choice I make.

At the end of the day, Kai’s move definitely took guts. Doing what you think is right for you in the face of everyone else’s expectations and ideas isn’t easy. But the way he executed his resignation, with the long emotional explanation online and thrashing of his former employers, makes me sad because it is exactly what so many people think an immature 24-year-old “me-first Millenial” would do. It sets a bad example for my generation and exposes how naive and misinformed Kai was about the business of broadcast television news.

I wish Kai’s blog post had been a little bit more to the point, more humble, and simpler. It might have reduced the number of holes critics poked into his argument. But it’s clear his post set off a heated discussion about the current state of Canada’s television news that’s been growing for a long time, especially with the recent introduction of Sun TV and the “wall-to-wall coverage” of the Royal Visit. Despite his controversial delivery method, Kai does deserve some credit for bringing some serious attention to the way broadcast news is currently being delivered. And I imagine it’s a discussion that’s only going to continue and lead to more stories about the industry in the coming weeks.


2 thoughts on “Reality and Kai Nagata

  1. Tim

    As a current reporter and one who DID quit a job under less-than-amicable conditions, I have thought long and hard on Nagata’s post (he lost some of my respect, so he doesn’t get to be referenced by his first name as he would otherwise). It, and your analysis of it, makes me think of what I originally posted on my blog when I left the Northern Pride in Meadow Lake. Shortly after I posted it I took it down, because someone told me keeping it up there probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do. To wit, here it is:
    But once the weekend hits, I will be doing up a response as well to Nagata. Considering I was 23 when I quit, I think my response would be fairly à propos.

  2. […] a follow-up to that, too) There was Grant Lafleche from the St. Catharine's Standard. There was Karen K. Ho. There was Jesse Ferreras, saying Nagata's expectations were inflated. There was Dave Bidini in the […]

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