Taking one for the team

After quarterback Kurt Warner took the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl this year, the team offered him a new, two-year contract for a total of $23 million.  Now, he’s offering to give some of it back, if it will help the Cardinals hold on to wide receiver Anquan Boldin.

What does this have to do with journalism? Glad you asked.

First, let’s put the Warner offer in context. He got a sweet deal at a time when folks all over Arizona are losing their jobs and their homes. Even he concedes the money is “crazy,” but athletes have short careers so they always try to get as much as they can in every contract. Yet Warner is willing to leave $2 million on the table to keep a talented teammate around. So here’s the journalism question: Could he possibly inspire some highly-paid news anchors or news media moguls to give back some of their inflated salaries to save even a few jobs?

One sign of the times: McClatchy newspapers across the country will cut 1,600 jobs, or 15 percent of the work force, starting this spring. Its chairman, Gary Pruitt, is taking a 15 percent pay cut, and no executive will get a bonus this year. Isn’t that the least they can do? Has anyone in broadcast news done anything similar?

Last month, CBS’s Katie Couric blogged about teacher layoffs saying “We are all tightening our belts these days.” As far as we know, however, she’s still pulling in a multi-million dollar annual salary. In December, NBC’s Brian Williams blogged about layoffs at the company, saying, “When companies make less money in a shrinking economy, there’s no magic to it: we’re forced to do more with less.” But it appears he’s not making do with any less, nor is ABC’s Charlie Gibson.

Kurt Warner’s offer to give back some of his salary isn’t really about saving Boldin’s job, of course, it’s about putting himself in a position to win. But at least Warner knows that winning takes a team.

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3 Comments

  1. great great points! maybe someone should forward this to comments at NBC and CBS….and GE, Belo, Media General, Cox, Sinclair, etc.

  2. As much as I admire the journalistic accomplishments of the network franchises, I place no value on their words when it comes to how the economic crisis allegedly “affects” them. In large part, egos need to be fed in this business, so there will be no giving back, no real bandwagon charge to help their lesser-paid counterparts, at least from my perspective.

    I just returned from a visit with the good folks at Bright House Networks in Tampa and got a feel-good vibe that I haven’t enjoyed since 1985 when the Diab family owned my former station, WWAY, in Wilmington, NC. All newsroom employees there are under contract and everyone signs the same contract: three years with guaranteed salary increases and a six-month no-compete if you leave the market.

    There is something to be said for everyone having equal treatment.

  3. There was a scene in the movie Broadcast News in which one of the bosses (perhaps the network preisdent) made mention of the network anchor (Jack Nicholson) taking a pay cut to stem some of the layoffs. If I recall correctly, the notion of the anchor cutting his own salary to spare the troops was quickly brushed off by the executive and the anchor.

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