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Am I facing unfair treatment?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by WestCoastWriter, Aug 11, 2006.

  1. WestCoastWriter

    WestCoastWriter New Member

    Hi. First time poster, longtime lurker.

    I come here because I am at my wit's end. About a year and a half ago, I took a job at a somewhat large circulation paper. This was supposed to be my "big break", especially since the SE has the reputation for being an outstanding developer of talent. The paper itself has been known to send people to much bigger, much more major publications.

    Over the past year, despite repeated reassurances that I would not be "pigeonholed", I have been repeatedly passed over by other writers whenever a beat comes open, or when one of our "bigger" writers (i.e. our pro sports guys) needs a backup for an event. The last such instance provoked such surprise on the staff that the guy who got this beat over me actually took me aside and said "I'm not going to apologize for getting this, but you got screwed."

    Now here's the thing: My SE is a fanatical golfer. Every member of our staff plays golf. I do not. When our SE is making small talk with people, he's talking about golf. He regularly goes golfing with our other writers. While he's in the office, he is usually too busy and harried to be bothered, but I hear he relaxes much more out on the course.

    I do not think I have been passed over simply because I'm the only non-golfer. This guy is a award-winning and respected professional. He knows his stuff, inside and out, and he wouldn't be stupid enough to hand work over to an incapable writer JUST because they golf together. But some of my close friends in the organization whom I feel comfortable enough to discuss such things with do say that, if all else is equal or close to equal, my non golf-playing may play a role, consciously or unconsciously.

    I have worked for more SE's than I care to count in my career. Some of them believed in seperating themselves from the staff. Some believed in taking the time to get to know each and every staff member individually. Never have I had one who will be openly social with certain staff members, but not others.

    I can't go over his head on this and take my concerns elsewhere, either. My SE's boss is a very big fan of his, and does not question his decisions in the slightest. Plus, I am not a wave-maker. I pride myself on being a good worker with a good attitude, and I'm not about to risk that reputation. I don't feel as if I can talk to my SE personally about this, as he has a very authoritative, tempermental air about him. He does not like to be questioned or be told something he's doing is wrong.

    I am very worried about my future. I will look for jobs elsewhere, but they would likely be lateral moves. I came here to learn how to take that "next step", and was more or less told I would get a taste of that experience. As it is now, no one would likely take me on to do anything above what I am doing now, something I frankly don't want to spend the rest of my career doing.

    I believe I've made it as far as I have in this business based primarily on sheer want-to. I don't consider myself talented, and I certainly don't have a pedigree of internships and/or a good j-school. I've just done whatever it takes. But I WILL NOT spend money on equipment and lessons for a sport I personally loathe just so I can exist in the eyes of my boss.

    I do want to add that I respect my SE enormously. He's by far the smartest guy I've ever had to answer to. Working for him has been the best opportunity of my career, which is why this upsets me.

    I guess all writers, eventually, have to confront the fact that they'll eventually hit the celing. I just never thought it could happen like this.
  2. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Have you talked to the guy about this? If he's really a good manager, he ought to be able to explain to his people why this is or isn't done.
  3. WestCoastWriter

    WestCoastWriter New Member

    No, and I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable doing so. He's a hell of an editor, but he can be pretty rough around the edges. If he's busy, or doesn't want to hear what you have to say, he's not above telling you to screw off. And I doubt any boss wants to hear an implication that he's playing favorites.

    I've considered just saying "I don't feel I get a chance to know you and communicate with you like the other guys," but even that may be pushing things. I can't make this worse.
  4. dixiehack

    dixiehack Well-Known Member

    Are you sure it isn't East Coast bias? :p

    Seriously, ask if you can grab lunch or go somewhere else that is non-threatening, then ask him what specific steps he feels you should take in order to improve.
  5. DENNY

    DENNY Guest

    dixiehack's idea is a good one.

    Ask what you can improve on and make sure the SE knows you want to move up to a better beat.

    If your SE has helped you improve, that should help your chances of possibly landing a better job somewhere else.
  6. Dyno

    Dyno Well-Known Member

    Completely agree with dixiehack and loki. You say you're not a wavemaker, so being proactive like this might feel uncomfortable, but the guy's not a mindreader - you have to let him know what you're thinking/feeling. Unfortunately, just doing a good job isn't enough -- you have to let people know what you want.
  7. WestCoastWriter

    WestCoastWriter New Member

    I understand that. I do. But also, I have to look at it from his eyes: Would YOU like one of your employees imply to you that you play favorites because of golf?

    I know I need to talk to him. My whole career could be at stake. But I have to tread very carefully.

    Also, I feel I need to point this out: I am open to the fact that maybe, just maybe, I'm getting passed over because I'm not good enough. In no way am I solely blaming this for my lack of advancement. But I need to at least know where I stand.
  8. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Have you considered learning to play golf? In a lot of businesses, this would be a no-brainer for a young buck with aspirations.
  9. dixiehack

    dixiehack Well-Known Member

    Who says you imply that? Not you, not as long as you can produce an EKG pattern. You aren't trying to call him out over the last decision, your trying to find out what you need to do to catch the next train coming along.
  10. Fuck learning to play golf just for sycophancy's sake.  This is yet more proof that golf is the spawn of Satan.  Fuck the old-boy, Scotch-swilling, man-breasts-in-golf-shirts, elitist culture.  No one earning a sports reporter's pay should have to put up with that shit.  That's for bankers and financial-firm assholes.

    Best thing to do with this douchenozzle is to let him know that you're hungry for better things and ask him for a frank assessment of what you need to do.  Don't bring up golf and don't imply that he's running the department unfairly.  I wish you the best of luck.  You may want to check out the jobs board, though.  I bet that some SE out there would be happy to have your talents on hand and wouldn't give a fuck that you aren't interested in particpating in some anachronistic, bourgeois ritual posing as a sport.
  11. imjustagirl2

    imjustagirl2 New Member

    So I'm guessing Augusta wouldn't let you in? :D

    On a serious note, I agree with most of what's been posted here. Meet with your boss, OUTSIDE of the office, and talk about you. Your future, your aspirations. Ask how you can get better. Tell him where you want to end up (beat-wise) and what you want to do. Show him what you've done in your time there, and make your case. Do NOT talk about the job you missed out on, unless it's in a tangential way ("What kind of skills might I have needed to have had a chance at that job?"), just focus on you and what YOU can do to get to where you want to be.

    Good luck.
  12. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Do NOT imply that. Just ask what's up, what you need to do, etc. Tell him you thought you had a good shot at such and such a beat and it didn't happen and you want to make sure you're ready next time.
    If the guy is half the manager you say he is, he'll talk to you. That's the major part of managing, communicating with your staff. If he can't do that well, he's not a good manager.
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