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Am I too late to the "I want a reporter position" party?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by NancyLou, Nov 25, 2013.

  1. NancyLou

    NancyLou Member

    My back story is, sad to say, heard too many times and not worth sharing, but the bottom line is, I was hoping to get back into the newspaper game after too many years out of it, following a husband around the country.

    I've been sending my resume, clips and references to many, many newspapers across the country. My cover letter is tailored to the newspaper and the position and I explain in not-too-much detail (because they don't need to know my life story, just the facts) that I'm leaving my state to come "back East".

    While I've gotten nibbles, none of them have been what I'd call "serious" nibbles. I have heard back from two newspapers who had more questions; both of them were worried the pay was too low for me to make the move, though I briefly touched on this in my cover letter.

    The short story, as I'd appreciate some input from editors and fellow reporters:

    1. Went to college, majored in English and Creative Writing, took a couple journalism classes as electives.
    2. Didn't graduate (no, not just one class short, 30 credit hours) due to so many moves and losing too many credits along the way.
    3. Finally snagged a stringer position with a smaller newspaper in Southern Ohio writing primarily high school sports, but was making the move into some features. My sports stories were beginning to be shared with other newspapers in Southern Ohio under the same corporate umbrella.
    4. Did the stringer stuff for nearly three years then had to move with the family, as husband was transferred.
    5. Once moved, got into freelance, but chose travel as it's the easiest to break into, had over 20 articles published in larger magazines, some national, some regional, all well-known and in larger markets.
    6. Have kept current with majority of software associated with being a reporter/writer in an online world and have them delineated on my resume. Also, mention I'm current with all major (and some minor) social networking sites with better than average follower counts but not as large as others.
    7. Have a resume that's tailored to the journalism industry, but I felt I could have put more. Is a two-page resume acceptable?
    8. Have included three references, all three working for major companies, such as National Geographic Traveler, AOL/Mapquest and Tucson's #1 network as a news anchor. Should I change my references? Do I add more? Include some editors from some of the magazines? I have many, many contacts made over 10 years of being a travel writer that would cross over (I think) well into a reporter's position, something a fresh college grad can't provide, most times.

    From my resume, it's obvious I'm older, 49 years old on my last birthday, but I'm making it clear in my cover letter I'm not interested in gaining clips so I can move onto the next newspaper, I'm intending to grow roots and that I love writing for smaller market papers, as I feel I can help to integrate the community with the newspaper, and vice versa.

    Am I just past my prime? Should I move onto something else?
  2. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    Yes, you should move on to something else. But it has nothing to do with whether you are past your prime or in your prime.

    Sadly, the newspaper industry is past its prime.
  3. Bradley Guire

    Bradley Guire Well-Known Member

    I'm only 32, and I'm wondering if I should trim a bit from my resume and not put my college graduation year. Because every time I get passed over for a job, I find out it's for a college grad. (Easy to find out when the papers put their new hires in the state press association newsletter.)
  4. SnarkShark

    SnarkShark Well-Known Member

    I don't think you should give up if you would truly enjoy to job you're applying for and can afford the low salary (with your spouse's income).

    I would take a job I love that pays shitty over a shitty job that pays great any day.
  5. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    If it's something you want to do, and you're well aware of the risks (chronic layoffs, a troubled industry), downsides (low pay, long hours) and don't care exactly what town or what size paper you work at, then yes. By all means, go for it. It sounds like you have a lot of positives working for you. Namely, you've worked in the industry and know how to form a sentence. That ought to be enough to get your foot in the door somewhere, and if you truly don't care where you end up geographically, there's plenty of places to land.
  6. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    Nancy, I ask myself the same questions and even whether I want to get back into the business after a two-year leave of absence to deal with a family issue.

    Your post didn't specify if you are seeking a general news or feature-writing position, or sports, or either. I'd try to tailor my clips to whatever I'm applying for. Personally, I never list references until they are specifically requested.

    Bottom line, there are simply fewer newspaper jobs now than there used to be. And the general line of thinking that young = cheap and older = more expensive. So you'll need to convince editors you're within their budget range. Beyond that, your clips should speak for themselves. Good writing is good writing, no matter what format in which it is published. It's true that long-distance job hunts are harder. But I've done them successfully, so if you want to move to a certain place, but can't just pack up and go now before you get an offer, you'll just have to target things in that area.

    There are certainly many drawbacks and hurdles to overcome, but if this is something you really want to do, don't let anything or anyone stop you. Good luck.
  7. Bradley Guire

    Bradley Guire Well-Known Member

    I also don't bother with long-distance job hunts anymore. Out of the the many places I applied to, only one editor got back to me. At first he set up an in-person interview. The paper wasn't paying me to fly out or for a hotel, but by wild coincidence I was going to be within a five-hour drive anyway. My brother paid for me to come visit before he left for Afghanistan. The editor called back a day later to cancel the interview. Here's what he said. "If you're paying your own way to interview and wanting to move out here for the money I could offer you, you just look desperate."

    I've heard a lot of "you have to move to where the jobs are." Now it's "if you do that, you look desperate and undesirable." I swear, you just can't win when it comes to job hunting.
  8. TopSpin

    TopSpin Member

    A two-page resume is more than acceptable, especially for folks with a lot of experience. Anything more is too much. Use the cover letter to expound on areas relevant to the position.

    For No. 8, only include references when asked. Normally that occurs during the interview stage.
  9. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    If you are willing to work absurd hours for peanuts and move almost anywhere in the country, then you can probably still find something.
  10. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    The question, though, is for how long before the layoffs come?
  11. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    That is one of the most asinine things I have ever heard.
    They won't pay for you to fly out there, but if you're interested anyway and willing to play their games they don't want you? WTF? They could've just taken a match to your resume and saved you both some aggravation.
    And since when is "desperation" a reason to eliminate someone from a candidate search?We're all desperate in some form or fashion. Here's hoping that editor becomes "desperate" for a reporter and has a long and fruitless search ahead of him.
  12. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    Yeah, that's crazy. If anything, being willing to pay your own way demonstrates legitimate interest.

    Has this industry become Wal-Mart, where you hire the cheapest closest person you can find because everyone is pretty much interchangeable?
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