If you have seen the Tom Cruise movie 'The Firm" you might get a good idea of what it is like to work for a Fox owned and operated station.
The Firm was 1993 movie staring Cruise and it was about a young lawyer who joins a prestigious law firm only to discover that it has a sinister dark side.
Insiders tell FTVLive it is the perfect analogy of working at a Fox O&O.
In the movie, Cruise finds out that the firm he is working for will stop at nothing to make sure that he stays in line. In other words, Cruise's dream job turns into a nightmare.
FTVLive has spoken to a number of former and current staffers of Fox O&O stations and it is scary what the company will do to their employees.
One news executive thought he landed his dream job working for a Fox O&O in a big market, only to end up hating the job, the company and the way they treated the employees.
FTVLive has broken a number of stories that involve Fox O&O stations. One former Fox O&O news executive says that when FTVLive would break a story, almost immediately after a "witch hunt" would start as to who leaked the information to FTVLive?
Managers and staff would be called into offices and asked about the story and if they had any part in leaking it to FTVLive? "It was almost like a police interrogation," says one staffer that went through the ordeal.
One former news manager says he was called by corporate and asked, "Do you know Scott Jones?" The manager said he did know me and even liked me (imagine that?), but if they were asking if he was leaking stories to me the answer was "no!"
Fox wants to control the message and they don't like when someone like FTVLive puts out a story that they don't want out there. Their PR department tries to feed stories to FTVLive's competitors as a way to try and "get back" at FTVLive.
FTVLive reported that WTTG Anchor Will Thomas had missed over a month on air and was working on a separation agreement with the station. A few days later, the Fox PR people told an FTVLive competitor that Thomas was indeed leaving the station and it would be announced soon. Problem was, FTVLive had already reported that was going to happen and the news was nothing new to FTVLive readers.
When FTVLive embedded a video from KMSP the Fox O&O in Minneapolis, Fox made sure the video would not play on FTVLive's website. We could have easily ripped the video uploaded ourselves and used it under the fair use guidelines. It was like The Firm was trying to punish us.
Back in February, FTVLive FIRST told you how WTXF Fox 29 in Philly was pushing viewers to the app Fresco News. The app let's users download it and be contacted to the station's Assignment Desk. The desk can send out the location of breaking news and viewers can then in turn, go to the location, shoot video and upload it straight to the station.
The station can then decide if the want to buy the video or not. "Just like that, you've become an important part of our FOX 29 News Team, and you can see how, as you watch your news gathering on our air, and on-line," WTXF says on their website.
The app is making it's way across to all the Fox O&O's. The idea of making Reporters and Photographers less and less important has been part of the Fox O&O business plan for quite some time.
In a 2014 business plan shared with management at WTXF you can see their vision to to make viewers gather, shoot and tell the news. The plan was to "push the limits" on the IBEW Photographer/Editor agreement.
Here's portion of that business plan, obtained by FTVLive:
The goal is to bring the headcount down at the station. Sources tell FTVLive that all the Fox O&O's are being told to take a hard look at their headcount in 2016. It appears that layoffs will happen this year.
Yesterday, FTVLive told you about cuts at Fox O&O in Detroit. This is not the last cuts to be made. Sources tell FTVLive that a number of open positions at Fox stations will go unfilled.
Fox works on a July to July budget, so the cuts will be coming fast as stations prepare their 2017 budgets.
"Plan is to go lean as possible in 2016 and make as much money as possible...real concern at fox is 2017 with no political and continuing OTT and cord cutting real concerns," says one Fox insider to FTVLive in an email.
But back to the Firm.
News Directors are told to talk to no one, only Fox corporate is allowed to send out the message.
People at Fox O&O's have to contact FTVLive through email accounts they set up on their home computer or laptop. Some text us through their personal phones. One Fox O&O staffer will only email us through his person iPad from a Starbucks WiFi, he's scared to do so from his house.
It's like The Firm.
One former Fox O&O news manger says that the company will look in-depth at the station's serves to see if anyone sent an email to FTVLive. " Fox is telling HR to make sure each person at each station understands if you send anything to ftvlive you're dead," said one news manager after an FTVLive story was posted.
Many are scared to talk at all and that is what Fox wants. They want people scared to death to talk to outside media. Hard to believe that a company that runs news departments that rely on people talking, scare the crap out of their staff for doing the same.
People that have landed what they thought was their dream jobs want out. "This is not what I signed up for", said one Fox O&O staffer looking to get out. "It's like they treat us as if we';re guilty until proven innocent," the staff added.
"This place is just plain scary," says another staffer. "We joke that even the bathrooms are bugged, but I'm not sure how much of it is really a joke," the insider added.
Again back to that future business plan laid out in 2014. You can see that Fox is all about doing more with less. Here is another piece of the plan that was shared amongst managers and obtained by FTVLive:
You would think landing a job at a Fox O&O would be a great goal, but just like Tom Cruise in The Firm, you might not want to get what you wish for.
FTVLive will have more on The Firm.....ummmmmm.... the Fox O&O's in the future.
That's unless The Firm gets to us first: