Call 911. There’s a network correspondent who wants less face time.
“People think you’re insane in this business if you don’t want to be on TV all the time,” says ABC’s Claire Shipman. “The more you’re on, the more important you are. I should be panicked when I’m not on every day. Actually, I’m relieved.”
Shipman, 46, “Good Morning America’s” senior national correspondent, happily cut back to part-time status in the fall as part of her new contract. She appears once or twice a week — at a lower salary, of course.
“It’s been a very smooth adjustment,” she says. “I’m wired this way.” In this economy, so is ABC. “They’re happy to save some money and still have me on the air.”
Shipman is practicing what she preaches in her new book, “Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules for Success,” coauthored by the BBC’s Katty Kay. Their message: Females have far more power in the workplace than they realize, and they can use it to get the life they want.
Network TV is not your typical workplace, Shipman concedes. For starters, there’s the unpredictable travel. With two young children — Hugo, 7, and Della, 4 – she became increasingly resistant to that part of the job.
“I kept having these discussions, ‘Why are you so difficult, Claire?'” she says. “I told them I wasn’t cut out like other reporters. I think they got it. The lesson for women is that it’s OK if everybody doesn’t like you. They need to like your work.”
How times have changed. In 1991, after two seasons as a “60 Minutes” correspondent, Meredith Vieira, pregnant with her second child, was dumped because she wanted to continue working part-time. Today, “nobody would think twice about it,” Shipman predicts.
“Companies are finally realizing that women are valuable and the workplace can’t afford to lose them. Companies that give their employees flexibility are the most successful and have increased productivity.”
Productivity has not been an issue for Shipman. Before joining ABC in 2001, she worked at NBC as a White House correspondent. She spent a decade at CNN, where she also covered the White House and put in five years at the Moscow bureau. (She has a degree in Russian Studies from Columbia.)
While her new schedule allows her more time with her kids, it hasn’t done the same for Shipman with her husband, former Time reporter Jay Carney, since he became communications director for Vice President Joe Biden.
“We have so little time together,” she says. “I was actually hoping for more conflicts of interest, more leaks. I wanted him to come home and tell me the Supreme Court nominee.
“The good news is that I’m not covering the White House anymore.”