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Advice on a job switch

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by doogie448, Dec 15, 2010.

  1. doogie448

    doogie448 Member

    First off, I apologize if this thread isn't in the right spot.

    So here's my question. For the last two years I have been covering our third rung prep beat. We have two major conferences. The bigger one we split boys and girls and I do the other conference. Today my boss pulled me in an office and offered me a chance to split time between writing and desking. We have four desk guys but one is moving to the news side. My SE and Assistant SE want me and whomever they hire to flex between writing and designing. I love what I do and I like the conference I cover.
    However, the SE said if I was willing to move he could "throw a few bucks my way" which would be nice because I haven't gotten a raise since I was hired two years ago. My schedule would go from all over the board to strictly nights.
    From their side, I would give them an experienced design person and I also do all of our video work, so I could get out of the office easier because I wouldn't be covering my own stuff. I would probably also become in charge of making sure things are posted correctly to our website.
    Our desk guy who's moving isn't going until January so I have some time to make a decision. I'm on vacation next week so I'll have more time to mull it over, but I thought I would get an unbiased opinion or six.
  2. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    I love working on the desk, personally. For a raise and the chance to do both writing and desk work, I'd take it. If money was the same, I'd probably stick with the reporting side.

    On the other hand, if you don't go along with what the bosses want, that could spell trouble. There are too many unemployed journalists out there who would snatch up a decent job.
  3. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    Where do you want to end up? Are you locked in to wanting to be a writer and only a writer? If so, I wouldn't let them pull you to the desk, even part of the time. If you could see yourself doing more desk work long term or maybe becoming an SE yourself someday, this could be a great opportunity.

    Of course, it depends on how significant the "few bucks" they are offering would be to you. If you really need the cash, I guess I can see it. Unless I'm reading your post wrong, it doesn't seem like something you really want to do.

    Or you could just ditch the lab coat, suit up and be AWE...wait for it.....SOME!
  4. doogie448

    doogie448 Member

    Desk work isn't my passion and my boss said he wasn't going to force me into anything. I've been the guy who fills in on vacations so I was expecting some kind of conversation. This is the first time they've talked money though. And the night shift means I could get rid of the after-school care for the kids.
    I told him no initially then the more I gave him my opinion on what kind of candidate we need to look for and the more I talked about it with the wife, the more willing I was to at least think about it. I guess in the back of my mind I've always thought when I got burned out I would move to the desk.
  5. inthesuburbs

    inthesuburbs Member


    If you can stand desk work, the job sounds like a better plan for long-term job security: If you're the video person, and have Web skills, and can continue to write, it's harder to lay you off. Flexibility pays. When the newsroom gets down to one person, you'll be it! (I know, that doesn't sound like an incentive.)

    Try to split the time in a clear way so you don't end up trying to do two full-time jobs. Declare desk days and reporting/writing days, or hours, and make sure everyone knows that's the plan, within reason. It won't be perfect. But if you're trying to report and write on deadline while you're trying to edit or draw pages, and reporters and stringers are calling, you're doomed. Find a setup that restores quality of life, and gets you home on time, instead of making it worse.

    Don't just get the small amount of money. Get soft stuff too, the kind of thing that can only be negotiated when you're getting a new job: another week of vacation, some flexibility to work at home an hour here and there if needed for family reasons, or one specific writing assignment per year that you've always wanted to do but they wouldn't pay $200 travel for, or a laptop computer so you can do that video editing from anywhere, or they pay the cell phone bill. And throw in some kind of training that will help you and them, especially the kind of training that doesn't require travel (tuition and books for a community college course you'd take, or a local course in video editing or sound editing to add to what you know). You can't get all of that, but you can get some of it. Figure out what would make your quality of life better, and get two or three of those things now. Those things are practically free for bosses to hand out, or at least come out of a budget that's separate from the staff salaries. And getting a couple of those items may reduce the chance that moving to the desk leads to burnout.
  6. Hank_Scorpio

    Hank_Scorpio Active Member

    Another thing to consider: if the newspaper folds, or you want to get out of newspapers, the new position would give you the web experience that an online company might desire.
  7. golfnut8924

    golfnut8924 Guest

    Similar to what the two posts above said...

    If there are any newspaper jobs with any more security right now it's the website ones. Writers are a dime a dozen. With newspapers going the way of the web, the folks who do the website stuff are not going to be as expendable.

    If you don't have much desk experience (although it sounds like you might) take the opportunity. One of my biggest regrets and one of the biggest mistakes I made early in my newspaper career was avoiding pagination like the plague. I had a couple opportunities to get involved with it and I said no thanks because all I wanted to do was write. Well when it came time to apply for another gig, my lack of pagination experience definitely hurt me. Employers want to see that you have that skill and I think it held me back from getting some interviews.
  8. middleman

    middleman New Member

    Also, find out how much "a few bucks" is before you sign off on the new gig. I've heard many stories that go like: "Do this for me, and I'll get you a little bump." Often, the bump is like 25 cents an hour or never comes at all.
  9. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    Exactly, though the flip side is if they offer you the few extra bucks and then not long after you turn it down, they dump the work in your lap anyway. I had that happen to me once.
  10. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I am with the folks who say that job security should be your primary concern.

    It all depends on the paper and the chain, etc., but the CONTENT PROVIDERS generally have the most value to the newspaper/online operation.

    They generate the stories, photos, blogs, videos, etc. that get the web hits.

    Copy editors and designers are often the most vulnerable because any job that is done on a computer can be done by someone hundreds of miles away on a computer.

    But the web experience may be key here and the more well-rounded you are the better.
  11. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    What's the question, again?

    If you are at all interested, I really don't see how this proposed job change is an issue in any negative way.

    They know you can content-provide. They know, or think, you can edit well enough to be offered this position. When Web/online production jobs open up at newspapers, they usually don't go to reporters -- they go to desk people.

    Content providers are valuable if all you want is to have a job, because they are doing something people who have gone to the desk or going for online production jobs don't usually want to do on a full-time basis anymore. BUT, that value doesn't necessarily show up in the pay.

    Better pay can usually be gotten in desk/online production/technical jobs.

    So, really, what's your question? How much do I love writing? Am I so good at writing that I really don't want to do anything else? (By virtue of the fact that you've already done and been used for other things, I think that question has been answered).

    I don't ask that to belittle any love of writing you may have, really. It's just that, in reality, there are very few reporters who really are in that class of pure writers, or even wanna-be pure writers.

    For the most part, those types write books, not thrown-out-the-next-day daily newspaper stuff. By nature and trade, most journalists are more of multitaskers, people who can be versatile and like variety more than they do a total focus on any really major writing talent that isn't usually served that well by newspapers, anyway.

    If you love writing that much, then, yes, you should avoid this switch if that's possible. If not, then I don't really think there is any question.
  12. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    The more things you can do, the more valuable you become.
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