Valeria Sistrunk felt like she had been blindsided two times in a row. She decided she needed to prevent that from happening to others.
Sistrunk, a 2013 graduate of Florida A&M”s School of Journalism and Graphic Communication, had unpleasant experiences at two different news stations, WDEF in Tennessee and WSAW in Wisconsin. She believed journalists who were interested in certain news stations should know what to expect when applying there.
This led Sistrunk to create the website ratemystation.com. The website gives future and current journalists looking for jobs insight on what the environment and workload is like at different news stations.
“I went to two stations and each had different issues,” the 26-year-old said. “With those experiences, it was like man, if someone would have warned me before I came on and got this job! If any of the employees would have given me a heads up, I wouldn’t have went there.”
“That was when I realized, in college we have rate my professor, why don’t we have a rate my station, or something for TV news so you won’t end up in a bad station,” Sistrunk added.
She has left newsrooms for now and the website is her full-time business.
She launched the website in November. In the first month of its launch, it received 100,000 visitors. Now, on average, it receives 1,000 to 3,000 visitors a month.
When viewers visit the website, they see a pop up asking if they are interested in being a freelance writer. Once the pop up is exited, the viewer chooses whether to rate a station or find a station. When a person chooses to rate a station, he or she answers several questions about the experiences at the news station(s).
If someone chooses to find a station, they see a list of news stations along with job listings. Once the news station is clicked, it shows the salary, how long the typical contract is, and other aspects of the job.
Although this website seems beneficial for people looking for jobs, the website has become controversial. News stations are not fond of the concept of the website and have complained about how the websiter is tarnishing their reputation.
Within the first month, Sistrunk was sent a cease and desist letter from the lawyer of WDEF.
“They threatened me with a lawsuit basically saying if I don’t remove what someone else has written on my website, they will sue me,” Sistrunk said.
They station claimed libel, but due to Sistrunk’s knowledge of communication law, she knew there was not a case and the lawsuit did not continue.
Sistrunk is determined to not let the worries of other stations degrade her purpose for the website. She was aware and ready for all the outcomes the website entailed.
The website has received more positive than negative feedback. A former FAMU student and friend of Sistrunk, Alexis Frazier, has benefited from the website.
“I’ve used [the website] to help me when I’m looking at stations to see the reviews; if they have one on a station I’m interested in, then I’ll read it and reach out to someone and dig a little deeper to see if this is a place I see myself in, said Frazier.”
Sistrunk’s goal is to include more of the website. She wants to add radio stations and international TV news stations. She also wants the website to review head hunters who assist in finding people jobs and she hopes that news directors will respond to the reviews they receive.
If you are interested in using the website, visit ratemystation.com.