Veteran reporter Tim Minton is the latest in a long line of staffers to leave WNBC. Unlike the majority of others who didn’t have contracts renewed (including Glenn Zimmerman, profiled last week), Minton chose to walk away on his terms.
“I want to produce different types of content… and I want to have a role in managing it,” Minton tells FishbowlNY.
He says it’s all about timing, given the state of the local TV news today; it was the time to make a break for it.
Minton says he began discussions with executives “up to the very highest level of the company” in the last two years. Ultimately, Minton says it was a variety of factors that that led him to the decision last month of walking away. His last day was January 7.
He points out that choosing to leave is in no way a reflection over the product he’s churned out in the 12 years at WNBC. An 18-time Emmy Award winner, Minton says he was compensated generously.
“For me, it goes beyond what do you want to do in the next three months or six months?” Minton admits. “It’s what do you want to do in two years, five years, ten years? And what’s the vision of the industry down the road?”
While not speaking directly for WNBC management, Minton says it’s his sense that “they, from every level, would have preferred that I stay and I will miss all of those people.”
Minton admits he didn’t take this choice to leave lightly.
“What do I see as the future in business that is best for me and for my family? Sometimes the decisions are not easy, and this is one of them. But I think it’s the right decision.”
Minton says the well-documented changes at WNBC over the last few years helped fuel his desire to start anew.
“It’s very similar to the way I felt some time back when I had to make a decision and I was at a fork in the road between print and broadcasting,” Minton recalls. “At the time, I had been writing stories for The New York Times and at the same time I was working…in broadcast entertainment, not the news side.”
Through his mentor, famed former NBC News West Coast Bureau Chief Arthur Lord, Minton had to pick one career path.
“I wanted it to be journalism, but print was not a growth business,” Minton says. “…Now we’re in a situation…in which the business is really undergoing a revolution. It’s bigger than just a few little lurches in one direction or another.”
Although satisfied and excited with his typical reporting on WNBC (and 10 years at WABC before that), Minton was at another crossroads.
“I think that there are other ways that I can contribute and be challenged and have fun frankly, that go beyond it.”
In 2009, WNBC began its metamorphosis using many platforms for newsgathering. The traditional newsroom was gone and a larger content center was constructed. As several high profile reporters and anchors were leaving the station, WNBC turned much of its energy into the burgeoning digital channel –New York Nonstop.
While uncertainty hung over the air, Minton praised WNBC for being cutting edge.
“NBC has been extraordinarily creative, in my view, in exploring new platforms to distribute all different types of content.”
Personally, Minton enjoyed the ability to explore alongside the station.
“Some of the most fun that I’ve had in the business, going all the way back to the beginning of my career, has been the work that I’ve done for the Nonstop cable channel, including the program The Debrief, which may be one of the sharpest new programs to come out of the channel,” Minton says.
Minton says the changes at WNBC afforded him an opportunity, something that he looked to take advantage of as much possible, while maintaining a key role on the main channel, WNBC-TV. But Minton recognizes that cutbacks to the staff are a casualty of the changes.
“When I said goodbye over the couple of weeks, I have realized that it’s like any family. People sometimes come and go, move out of town,” Minton says. “New relatives come back from wherever they were and you reacquaint yourself. I’m going to miss the family.”
Now Minton plans his next venture, of which he is not ready to give specifics.
“I have a very clear vision of what I expect the future will be and I’m going to be excited to share more about it when the time is right to do that,” Minton says.