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At what point am I not being whiney?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by DeskMonkey, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. DeskMonkey

    DeskMonkey Guest

    Call it an early midlife crisis if you wish, or say I'm too old to be this emo, whatever but this is starting to get to me.

    I just reached my eighth year in the business, more than six of them in sports, nearing two at my current shop at a medium-sized paper in Big 10 country.

    The entirety of my career has been spent on desk. Now, that's not a bad thing because I'm good at layout and editing but I've long felt like the only voiceless one on staff. I worked four years at a larger paper before a layoff and I was the *only* one never given a chance to write anything. ANYthing. Despite repeated requests for a byline, I eventually was axed because, as I was told, I didn't contribute enough to content.

    I've been content the past few years at my current stop. But, today, while editing our college football preview, I see staff picks. From everyone but me.

    Again, I feel like the only voiceless on staff.

    It's not for a lack of speaking up and I know I'm talented enough to at least get to have an opinion on who will win Saturday's games. And it's not that I *want* to write but it'd be nice to know that my bosses feel I could.

    If this is it, I'd rather be in news because at least there I'd have somewhat more flexibility in scheduling.
  2. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    It sounds like you are good at the desk, and because you are very good at it, you aren't going to be allowed to write at your current shop.

    If you really, really want to write, you have options by trying to get some freelance writing assignments. It may not be fair, but it is your desire to write so you have to do something about it yourself. If you were to get two by-lines a month, for example, that probably isn't enough to develop you as a writer. For management, that would mean you are not doing a job that they see as your role for two days a week. That makes it harder for management, and that is what they care about.

    And if your only desire to write is to show you can write, that isn't a good enough reason for you to be upset. I remember somebody being unhappy because he worked at a place where they only took games and wrote up quick articles. The fellow said, "He (the editor) ruined a lot of people's dreams". Well, if it is your dream or desire to do something, you have to do something about it because it isn't the manager's dream - he/she just wants to to keep the assembly line going.

    If you want to write, then write. With blogs and the internet, you don't need anybody's permission to write.
  3. DeskMonkey

    DeskMonkey Guest

    I get it. I do. And, as I said, writing is not my end all, be all.

    My pants are more in a wad over being the only person in a eight-person staff not asked to contribute to even something as minor as picking this week's winners.

    In and of itself, no big deal. But, in context, it's just a symptom of being the forgotten one over here and now I find myself trying to draw the line between useless whining and legitimate feelings of being left out.
  4. Why not talk this over with your boss? There's no sense in you worrying about something that might not be a big deal. And if he/she doesn't like you or he/she has a false impression of you, maybe you two need to work something out. An boss's job is to manage people.
  5. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    At the places where I've worked, the top desk person has had a much greater hand in the section than any of the reporters.
  6. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Have a talk with the boss to see if there's any chance you can get to cover something, or write a feature. If the boss insists on you staying on the desk, then start searching out freelance opportunities elsewhere.

    If the powers that be complain about you working freelance, then you tell them that you offered your services as a writer and was rejected, so you are looking out for yourself.
  7. waterytart

    waterytart Active Member

    Perhaps your situation is different, but whenever I've seen staff picks, they're from people the readers recognize as covering football, i.e., people with bylines.

    You might be the best oddsmaker on the staff, but the readers don't know you. Obviously, you've asked to change that. Hope it works.
  8. Jake_Taylor

    Jake_Taylor Well-Known Member

    Like others have said, talk to your boss. I can think of a few deskers at papers that sound similar to your's who contribute to blogs on the paper's website. Do you have any particular area of expertise when it comes to stuff in your coverage area that you could blog about -- recruiting, local golf, non-revenue sports, anything that might be undercovered? Perhaps you could contribute stuff during your desk shift. If the boss feels like he's getting something extra, not just losing his best desker to send you out to a game or something, he might be receptive.
  9. zagoshe

    zagoshe Well-Known Member

    Stop whining.
  10. joe_schmoe

    joe_schmoe Active Member

    I'm not going to reiterate the obvious things other have mentioned, but what Versatile said is 100 percent accurate, which is a problem for wannabe writers.
    At your bigger papers, writing is never an option for the desk. They hire top designers/editors and pay them good (well they used to pay good money) to make the writers look good.
    If you aren't satisfied feeling that doing a top job on the desk is making a solid contribution to the section, then it's time to move on, because soon your work and attitude will start to suffer. And it's best you jump ship before you get thrown overboard. If you truly are doing a good job, your clips/award/honors should be enough to help you land elsewhere and find a shop that may present you more opportunities.
    That being said, if you are insistent on staying, first, be satisfied in what you contribute. And saying you are satisfied, isn't being satisfied. You can lie to others, but you know the truth. And second, be ready to jump on an opportunity. Anything. A writer takes another job, vacations, furloughs, any opportunity that you may get to write, no matter how menial, jump on it.
    The key is YOU have to take control. When you needed a job, no one just randomly called you up did they? Likewise, the boss isn't going to randomly come to you and say "Hey, we'd like you to cover the Rose Bowl this year."
  11. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Yes, if you want to be a writer, be a writer. Don't be an editor because you think it's your path to being a writer. It may be, but it probably won't be.
  12. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    I hope this doesn't sound too strong, because I do empathize with you.

    But this is the No. 1 thing a sports editor doesn't need to deal with -- a desk man who longs to be a writer again/for once. And I've had more than one SE tell me that, enough that I never scrounged for writing gigs.

    If you were a Hershey's Kisses maker at Hershey Foods for eight years, and you went up to the foreman one day and said, "I feel like making Reese's Peanut Butter Cups today," you would be told things don't work that way.

    And one more point -- if you "laid out" the paper well, which it sounds like you do, you probably contributed more to the newspaper that day than anything you would have written.
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