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A couple career questions

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by GGBonkers, Dec 27, 2019.

  1. Liut

    Liut Well-Known Member

    And I thought my "inheritance" was bad.
    Batman likes this.
  2. Most of the college grads that we hire are as "Web Producers" - basically editors for the site who manage and organize the content, handle social media, post live game coverage, and are prepared to write up fast pieces on trending topics perhaps. It's a good foot in the door and the skills are very transferrable to other businesses. But it doesn't pay great and if you really just want to be a reporter, you won't be thrilled.
  3. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    Yep, that's one of the standard ways in, even at some larger shops.

    The college grads who get good reporting jobs, like I said, are in essence picked to get them before college or just after college starts. They're on a fast track from the very beginning, sometimes from Ivy schools. You can't have a "good senior year" and get drafted easily. And, I know - the exception is always in the room. So I'm the exception is here, lurking and ready to post.

    But, generally, that's how it works. Get a good in with the internship coordinator at your college.
    justgladtobehere likes this.
  4. swingline

    swingline Well-Known Member

    @Batman, I have to ask. Why did you hire that guy in the first place?
  5. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    I wish I knew. I had no input into the hiring process.
    Our paper had been sold about a year earlier, and we were in a huge state of transition to put it mildly. Lots of longtime, experienced employees were either let go or left on their own, and the guy who became ME and acting publisher sort of ascended to those roles by default. Only about three people in the building would have been remotely qualified for either job by the time he got them. He was in way over his head trying to wear four or five different hats and put out all sorts of fires. He was the one who hired the guy.
    I came in one day and was told, "You have a new sports writer. He starts next week."
    Eighteen months earlier we had been a three-man department with a full production desk and two staff photographers. By that point I was a one-man shop working 60-65 hours a week and about to have either a nervous breakdown or a full homicidal killing spree, so anybody was better than no bodies so I was like, "OK, cool."

    Within a couple of months it became obvious that there were serious issues with the new guy's attitude and performance, but I was hopeful it would get better as he became more familiar with the town and the operation. And, because we were so short-handed, I was hesitant to write him off. If we got rid of him, I knew it might be a long time -- if ever -- before we hired a replacement.
    Unfortunately, it didn't work out at all. He left on vacation in late July and didn't turn in those football previews I mentioned earlier (which had been assigned to him in late May, BTW). I was gearing up to have a Come to Jesus meeting with him when he got back, and then he never came back. The day he was supposed to return, he emailed his resignation letter at 4 a.m. and that was that. So obviously, for as much as I didn't care for him by the end, the feeling was pretty mutual.
  6. GGBonkers

    GGBonkers New Member

    Life update for anyone who cares.

    I accepted a full-time job offer as a sports editor for a local newspaper near where I go to school. Going to cover high school sports mainly. I’ve been freelancing for them since around October, and I feel really grateful they’ve extended me this offer. Not a ‘dream job’ necessarily, but it’s a foot in the door. I could already tell this job market is brutal just judging off the number of applications I sent out.

    Some Pros - Current sports editor is staying on the staff for awhile. Sounds like he wants to act like a mentor and get me a job I really want in a few years. Everyone I interviewed with said they expect me to learn as much as I can and move on. He also wants me to cover some D1 sports which I’m hoping helps out my career.

    Some cons - pay is low (competitive and expected but still low), hours are bad (expected), the industry still worries me.

    Some questions
    1. How can I make the most out of this job? What advice do you give me, a recent college graduate, in making this a good experience?

    2. What accomplishments at this position would stand out to future employers? I think it would be awesome to find ways/introduce opportunities to ‘modernize’ the paper, for lack of a better word, and bring in a younger demographic. But I also don’t want to work too far outside my pay grade and be taken advantage of. What might you recommend I try implementing?

    3. How can I best improve my writing (other than more writing)? What are some good resources? It’s mainly a writing/design position. How I can improve other multimedia skills that may be useful down the road?

    4. Soccer is my passion. Is it realistically possible to juggle writing for other soccer publications on the side in order to develop more contacts? How can I leverage the experience I gain at this paper to a future, soccer-specific, writing role?

    Thank you everyone for all of your guidance and advice.
    maumann likes this.
  7. Fredrick

    Fredrick Well-Known Member

    You sound like a sharp person. I'd try to avoid getting taken advantage of unless they pay overtime which is doubtful. If you can cover some Div. I sports as you said, you might do that even on your own dime (the suits will probably tell you to cut those assignments if you are going to complain about OT). I wouldn't do anything else on your own dime except cover a pro sporting event or Div. I college once in a while to show employers you are not only covering high school.
    Since you are just out of college, I'd reassess your situation every 3-5 months. This business is unforgiving especially right now and if it looks like you are going to waste away at low pay forever, there's still other professions you can try. Law school? Medicine?
  8. SoloFlyer

    SoloFlyer Well-Known Member

    Some thoughts:

    1. People matter. Games really don't. Most games you cover will be forgettable. Some may have you question what you're doing with your life. Treat people well. Be gracious, be professional.

    Ownership of your beat takes time. But face time (not the app) helps speed things along. If you can, try not to make a post game interview be your first interaction with a coach. Depending on how many schools you cover, it should be a goal to stop by practices to introduce yourself to coaches. Make sure you have an updated way of contacting them, get background on the team, and just make connections.

    2. Don't try to modernize the paper by yourself. If you can be an advocate in meetings for a more modern approach, don't hesitate to speak up. But don't commit to actual work like videos, podcasts, and other elements without actual support - both in terms of resources and coworkers. Take some time to observe the newsroom and staff before offering ideas. Read the room. Someone fresh out of college telling everyone how they should change doesn't typically go over well (even if the college grad is 100% right).

    3. Look up recent APSE award winners. Many of the winning submissions are on the APSE site. Read the major market elites for inspiration. Then go down to the smaller circulations and start studying. How are they attacking beats? Are there story ideas that you can mine and apply to your area? I'm not talking "kid beats cancer to win state gold medal in 100 meter dash" stories, either. I'm talking about trend and issue stories. Technology, participation, new sports, gender equality, etc. Don't copy their ideas. Take a kernel of what they did and see if/how it impacts your area.

    Then do the same for any state awards. Are they writing about issues in one part of your state that your outlet hasn't touched on yet?

    Finally, go back through the last few years of your paper's coverage. Is there anything the outlet has reported on that was never followed up?

    By doing this, you'll read good writing, hone your critical thinking, and get exposed to new ideas. That's how you get better.

    4. Never hurts to get your name out there. But be wary. Your full-time employer should be the priority. And you don't want to work 80 hours a week. Burnout is a very real issue for creative people, including sports writers. Ethically, as a full-time employee you should not write a story for someone else that you could publish in your paper. But if it's something they don't cover and there's an opportunity for you to make some extra bucks, go for it.

    Godspeed. This industry isn't for the faint of heart.
    OscarMadison, Alma, GGBonkers and 5 others like this.
  9. swingline

    swingline Well-Known Member

  10. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    Difficult as it could be with a full-time job, finish your school work and get the degree.

    Even if it's in journalism, a college degree is probably more important, in the long run, than your full-time job at the local paper.

    Well-written clips (and, once upon a time, PDFs of good layout) are important, but without the degree, you can't even get an interview, let alone work, in some fields.
    PaperDoll and maumann like this.
  11. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    And while you're at it, if you possibly can, get a masters degree. Odds are strong that your journalism career won't last, and your leap into the next thing will be much smoother with an advanced degree. I saw that several times with friends and colleagues, and wish I had knocked out a masters when I was younger.
  12. SoloFlyer

    SoloFlyer Well-Known Member

    One caveat - the masters has to be of high value. Getting a masters won't help in journalism. It will help open the door for teaching at universities (and in many states, even just at the high school level). It will also help for some education jobs outside of teaching. The rest is on a case-by-case basis. Not all masters degrees are equal, plus you're adding more debt to your finances after working in a not-so-lucrative career like journalism.
    justgladtobehere likes this.
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