Back in July, Ryan Sharp – one of the few remaining employees in The Oklahoman’s sports department – hopped on Twitter to excitedly announce that Ellis Williams had been hired to join the paper’s Oklahoma State sports beat.
Excited to announce the addition of Ellis Williams (@BookofEllis) to the @NewsOKSports staff! Ellis will soon be joining @ScottWrightOK on the #okstate beat. Welcome, Ellis! pic.twitter.com/Nb9Q9BTNwN
— Ryan Sharp (@Ryan_M_Sharp) July 23, 2019
That’s pretty cool. Just like the University’s coaching positions, the Oklahoma State sports beat has been a decent stepping stone gig for writers over years. Hell, if Mike Gundy cooperates, there’s even a chance you can become an overnight viral video sensation! Who wouldn’t want that job!
Unfortunately for Ellis, the gig lasted about as long as a Jenni Carlson paragraph. While he was packing his bags and searching Apartment Finder for a place to live, The Oklahoman’s HR Department called and rescinded the offer…
Late last week, The Oklahoman’s HR department informed me that due to a hiring freeze, the job offer I accepted on July 5 was being rescinded. Though blindsided and disappointed, It’s time to rediscover what is next. To those who have already reached out in support, thank you.
— Ellis L. Williams (@BookofEllis) August 6, 2019
That sucks for Ellis, but on a positive note, he doesn’t have to move to Oklahoma. Also, he doesn’t have to spend every waking hour covering Oklahoma State athletics. That sounds about as fun as sitting between Robert Allen and Sam Mayes on a Southwest flight after eating Chinese food!
Naturally, the news really upset the millennial journalism types who fail to understand just how outdated, antiquated and unsustainable the newspaper revenue model has become. They griped and complained and blamed the corporate overlords, which I get, while overlooking that the days of having legions of editors, copy editors and writers covering one sports beat are unsustainable and long gone.
The journalism establishment website Poynter – which covers the fall of newspapers better than anyone – even covered the story. Here’s the quote they got from The Oklahoman publisher Kelly Dyer Fry:
Kelly Dyer Fry, publisher/editor and vice president of news at The Oklahoman, told me in an email, “Ellis is a talented young man and we wish him all the best. There is never an easy way to make difficult cost-saving decisions. Trying to save local journalism can sadly break hearts.”
Not to be pessimistic here, but if we have to depend on a failing, gaffe-prone, conservative newspaper like The Oklahoman to “save local journalism,” than I’m pretty sure local journalism can’t be saved!
Wait. That was deep. Maybe I should turn that “oh so bold” commentary into a house ad?
Anyway, I don’t know anything about Ellis, but just like Kelly Dyer Fry, I also wish him the best. It didn’t involve moving across the country, but I’ve had something similar happen to me in the past. Learn from the experience, move on, and like most newspaper people I know, maybe look at a career in public relations. It pays better and they won’t offer you a job and then take it away. That’s bad PR.