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Am I being screwed?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Pilot, Aug 18, 2006.

  1. Pilot

    Pilot Well-Known Member

    Ok, I have a situation with a raise and I'm not sure how to handle it.

    Let me explain my position first: I'm one year out of school with a lot of experience stringing for a major regional daily. I've been at a weekly for a year now as the sports editor. I do separate 4 or 5 page sections for two different papers once a week. I have two high schools and cover all their sports but have a stringer who helps a lot with one of the schools. I do all the layout, most of the photos, and all that sort of stuff.

    When I was hired I asked or and was told I could get a six-month review, thus a raise. Six months came and sure enough, someone pulled me aside from my coworkers and said I was to get a raise. Well, believe it or not, that never happened. A couple weeks later I asked what happened and they said the budget wasn't there. I didn't make too big a deal of it. Well, I went on, worked through the summer and did a pretty good job. I won several first place awards at the state award thing and in one meeting with management my editor told me I was easily the best sports writer/editor in the chain (we have a good number of weekly papers).

    So finally my year review came and first thing I'm told is of the nine categories I was rated in, I wasn't allowed to get a five (one being the worst, five the best) in any of them -- not because I didn't deserve it – my reviewer said I would have gotten at least two fives had it been allowed, but it wasn't. Anyway, I got a small 3% raise.

    Should I be pissed?

    Here's why I think I should be: If I hadn't been screwed on the six month raise, I would be up 6ish% now. They've told me I'm the best, I have awards to prove I'm at least good, so why do I receive the minimum raise? On the review, I got almost the exact same score that one of my stringers got ... and everyone in the office knew he was not very strong at all. I got the same amount of a raise he got. It almost seemed as if not allowing me to receive a 5 made my score add up so I wouldn't qualify for a larger raise. I don't really have a lot to lose. They can't do without me and I'll really start looking for a new job next summer. If my position was eliminated though, they wouldn't have a problem getting rid of me (not that they don't like me, but they don't seem afraid to take advantage of me).

    On the other hand, I get a lot of overtime and at times, that can get a little controversial. I make a ton of overtime and maybe if I make a fuss over this, that will get cut out. It won't amount to much money, even if I get two or three more percent, so is it worth it?

    I don't know. I feel that if I really raise hell I might get more. I could say my review wasn't valid because I wasn't allowed to receive the top score (my proof being my reviewer who told me that ... he probably made a mistake in that regard). I've worked hard, invested my own money to do my job right at times (I bought expensive equipment that has allowed our paper to do what it's done, I don't regret it as I'll use it with this job or not, but it has really helped the whole office). I've been recognized as the best in the chain by my bosses and been given awards for being one of the best in the area. I feel like I should get more.

    Should I raise hell, or not? I like my bosses, but they make it clear often that sometimes, it's just business. To me, this is business. Should I do something or just take my 3% and be happy?
  2. Point of Order

    Point of Order Active Member

    I'd be pissed, and looking for another job. Not hyperactively looking for another job, but for something better to come along just enough to let the folks know they screwed up.
  3. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member


    No. 1 -- Any paper with a grading system like that is going to be very stingy with handing out 5s.
    No. 2 -- A 3 percent raise is probably above average -- maybe well above average -- for the industry these days. Sorry to say.
    No. 3 -- Verbal promises on scheduled raises aren't worth spit. Maybe the boss means it, but if the bean counter says no, that's it.

    Bottom line, you have reason to be pissed but -- sadly -- your experience is nothing unusual.

    Doesn't mean you can't go looking for something better, though.
  4. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    I'd raise southern Georgia in mid-June, not hell. For starters, an all-out confrontation probably won't do much good, and as you point out, it's possible they'll give you the extra three percent, then insist you not work overtime, and that negates or overrides your raise. That said, if they promised you A and you don't get it, you have a right to be upset and a right to tell them that they didn't live up to their promises. By not getting that raise, you also do damage to your salary history. If you get, say, $25,000 now but you're supposed to be getting $26,000, that lack of a thousand dollars could hurt you when you put in for your next job, because they'll have to give you less of a raise to attract you. It might compound itself until eventually you might find yourself $10,000 in the hole.

    And if they hold it against you, in any way, that you made them accountable for their words, then you start giving your resume a polish and be thinking about the next move, because if they BS you now, they'll BS you later too.

    Also: Grading systems where you're not allowed to get the top score fail at life. At least a bell curve would allow you a chance at a 5 if you deserved it. But saying "you can't have a perfect score even though you warrant it" blows diseased American Idol finalists.
  5. imjustagirl2

    imjustagirl2 New Member

    A.) I can't remember the last time I got more than a cost of living raise.
    B.) Our COL raise last year was 1 percent.

    Doesn't help answer your question...but 3 percent sounds damn good to me right now.
  6. jambalaya

    jambalaya Member

    At our place, 3-percent is the highest they can go with annual raises. And I was even told once people don't get five-stars on their reviews It just doesn't happen. So be happy you work in a place where you're liked and appreciated and actually got a raise. Remember, some don't.

    I'm not sure you got screwed. Most places don't give raises until one year has passed, and certainly not given for simply getting past the probationary peroid. I know they told you you'd get a raise after six months, but you got one afterall so I'd just accept it. It sounds like you won't be there another year anyway.
  7. Mira

    Mira Member

    I've been at my pub almost six years and never got more than 2% annual raise, so 3% sounds good.

    Those performance reviews or "rating categories" were created by HR folks who don't know squat about what goes on in a newsroom.

    If you like the editors and management, that's half the battle when you're as young and new to the job as you are. You have to look beyond the politics and keep churning out good copy.
  8. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    If you're being screwed, we're all being screwed...
    I'm at a major daily, and my pay has increased 1% in three years.
    But, as I watch colleague after colleague over the last five years walk out the door under the euphemisms of "voluntary and involuntary separation packages," I don't feel so bad.
  9. Oscar Madison

    Oscar Madison Member

    Reality check here.

    1) Yes the paper can get by without you. How long were they in business before you showed up?

    2) Just because you've won a few awards on the weekly level doesn't make you good.

    3) Most shops don't give out OT willy nilly, so be grateful that you have it.

    4) Be grafetul you did get a raise. Most people get a small cost on living raise and have to move to another paper to get something more substancial.
  10. leo1

    leo1 Active Member

    of course you're getting screwed. you don't need affirmation from SportsJournalists.com to tell you you're being fucked. look, any time someone manipulates the statistics like that it's obvious you're getting fucked.

    that said, as the other posters have said, it's not uncommon and there isn't much you can do other than start sending out the resumes.
  11. clutchcargo

    clutchcargo Active Member

    Money-wise you're doing okay between the 3% raise and overtime.

    Both of those are luxuries, although I admit saying "luxury" and "3%" in the same sentence gives me the willies.
  12. I'm going to come down a little lighter on your bosses than some of these posts. You're not being screwed, you're being taken advantage of re your inexperience. "Screwed" would be at 18 months still waiting for your annual review and first raise. You got that, so take it and keep a positive attitude. You don't want your first gig to give prospective hiring editors neutral or negative vibes.

    That being said, you sound like an industrious, go-getter type. Be on the lookout for your next job moving up the ladder, a mid-size daily, etc. Decide what you want to do, i.e., reporter, layout, combination of those things, and look for that kind of position. Moving up in your chain is probably not an option if they don't have dailies, but the first places to look are the dailies that operate in your region. If you are winning awards in that state, editors and writers in that state will take notice. I'm guessing you won't make it past two years at your weekly before someone hires you away.
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