He never fancied himself much of a coachmeister, but when he left USA Today to become spokesman for the prominent American Institutes for Research, Larry McQuillan fast became the go-to guy for the wave of reporters picked off by layoffs and buyouts that followed. "I guess," says the former White House reporter who also toiled at UPI and Reuters, "I had the right model." With much of the news industry imploding, especially in Washington, McQuillan says he's regularly asked for career advice. Many are in a panic, he says, but he doesn't urge them to jump at the first paycheck. "Do something you'll be happy doing," he recommends. So far, he adds, some of those he's counseled have joined political or advocacy campaigns. "Journalists are naturally idealistic," he says. But, he kids, in a town where reporters are stars, bailing out can mean a lower social status. "Chances are," he says, "you won't be as interesting at cocktail parties."