On May 11th The New York Observer published a little article on a 'beloved' executive who was leaving the news organization to pursue her dream of becoming guidance counselor. While nothing that spectacular, what caught my eye (after being directed to the article by a friend) are the reactions. I knew behind the scenes politics are a big part of all news organizations but the vitrol comments on this post just blew me away.
Here's the article:
By Felix Gillette
In recent years, when she wasn't putting together stories as a senior producer for ABC's World News or helping to oversee global news-gathering operations as a network vice president, Mimi Gurbst liked to advise her colleagues on various ways to improve their personal and professional lives.
Somewhere along the say, sources tell The Observer, Ms. Gurbst became a kind of cherished, if unofficial, career counselor at ABC News, helping countless young producers and correspondents find their way at a particularly tumultuous time in an already confusing business.
Soon Ms. Gurbst will be counseling uncertain youngsters, full-time.
To wit: Later this year, Ms. Gurbst will step down from ABC News, where she has worked for the past 30 years, in order to pursue a new career as a high-school guidance counselor.
Sources tell The Observer that in August, Ms. Gurbst, who is 57 years old, will begin a master's degree program in "Risk and Prevention," at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, with the aim of becoming a high-school guidance counselor and perhaps someday running her own school.
It's a rocky time in broadcast news. Recently, ABC News cut a hefty amount of its staff in a painful round of buyouts and layoffs. But the timing of Ms. Gurbst's departure from the network, according to an ABC News spokesperson, is not a result of the layoffs. Ms. Gurbst has long been planning a move into educational counseling. In recent years, she has volunteered extensively at P.S. 69 in the Bronx.
"This is a bittersweet time for us with Mimi leaving," Jon Banner the executive producer of World News told us on Tuesday afternoon. "But we’re so excited for her. It’s incredibly fitting that what she’s going to do—and what she finds so much joy in—is something she’s been doing for so many years right here at ABC."
"She has spent immense amounts of time and patience counseling all of us, helping us through lots of difficult times, and giving us advice on what to do," he added. "I can only imagine how lucky every child will be who someday walks into her office for advice."
What's the most memorable guidance Mr. Banner ever received from Ms. Gurbst?
"She made sure that I met and married my wife," said Mr. Banner.
Through a spokesperson, Ms. Gurbst declined an interview request.
No word yet on whether Ms. Gurbst will advise her future high-school students to pursue careers in the broadcast news business—or to avoid the journalism racket altogether.
And a few of the comments posted (to read them all, and there are some doozies, follow the link):
Ding Dong The Witch is Dead!
Submitted by ExABCNewsie on Thu, 05/13/2010 - 07:53.
The bearded Lady, Jabba the Huttress.
I can only surmise that Felix Gillette is either hoping for a job at ABC or his significant other already has a job with ABCNews. Obviously, Felix has no idea of how horrible person Mimi Gurbst is. Did she get her power at ABC News from her early relationship with Bob Murphy by helping to keep his sexual orientation (before he came out of the closet) or maybe she was blackmailing him?
Whatever. It's 20 years too late and countless decent people's careers ruined, not to mention the advancement of many incompetent sycophants.
I spent 11 years there and it was all about avoiding Mimi.
And yes, you really did need to stop by the desk every day and find something to compliment and drop some dirty little sex joke.
Ick! I can still see those big black hairs sprouting from her chin....
Submitted by Former ABC DA (not verified) on Thu, 05/13/2010 - 14:30.
Back when I worked at ABC we had a well-liked producer who reassured us young kids about "TV karma". It followed the same rules as regular karma but it would be doled out to those in TV who treated others badly, acted selfishly and worse.
The tough part about TV karma, again like regular karma, is that it can be slow to act. But it does act. This outpouring of hilarious, accurate and terrible comments about Mimi is a beautiful example of TV karma playing out.
Let's just hope that the kids who Mimi "advises" won't be treated to the same awful, cruel and capricious behavior that so many at ABC were.
Who knows? Maybe all these comments will come up forever in search engines when people actually do a little background checking on Mimi before hiring her, unlike the reporter of this piece. So perhaps we all should be thanking Mr. Gillette?
Karma's a bitch. Just like Mimi.
Mimi Gurbst wouldn't know a
Submitted by optimist (not verified) on Thu, 05/13/2010 - 16:07.
Mimi Gurbst wouldn't know a news story if it wasn't printed on the front page of the NY Times.
I'm an optimist for our future students out there.
At least she isn't going off to try to teach journalism.
Bad Business, The Personal Foulness Just a Part of It
Submitted by Linkage Wizard on Thu, 05/13/2010 - 17:07.
As competitors we would often laugh at how ABC made its decisions based on Mimi's preferences (all those very effete, tepid reporter boys) or David Westin's lust for prestige. David's people seemed to spend more time fighting themselves then actually working on their programs.
Ms. Gurbst is an example of how a company loses its way when the boss manages things by keeping the explosive unruly children at a slow boil instead of leading with a genuine business strategy. The house that Roone built is a mshadow of itself. There is no plan for growth over there, just self preservation.
As a competitor, it was easy to see how this woman did a lot to make that happen. She was allowed to stay on because of her deep and intimate knowledge of Mr. Westin's decisions and ethics over the years.
I knew about her for years. I met her once. Unsolicited, she trashed another woman in the business using foul words and venom, it was like a sewer pipe had opened up and all of Bronxville's waste products were coming out of an orifice. And yet it was a mouth. The subject was someone she barely knew. I wondered at that time if Ms. Gurbst had a daughter or son and what would happen to them in the world one day when they met someone like her. And also wondered how someone like that could have been in a corporate culture so long.