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Being surrounded by lifers - advice?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Stuck, Oct 16, 2006.

  1. Stuck

    Stuck New Member

    I know that you get a lot of young people coming on here to ask for career advice - how to move onward into that college beat, etc., etc.

    I'm a little more seasoned, but I think I face a situation that probably a lot of people do.

    I like where I'm at. I could stay here for 10 years. Twenty years. Maybe my whole career if it turned out that way. I like the area, like the beats here, etc.

    The problem is that while I like my job, I'm in a pretty subordinate role right now, and though I have good ideas, have to be careful because you don't want to start trying to outdo people who are higher up than you and have a lot more seniority at said shop. That can backfire.

    On the other hand, the idea of waiting 10 years or more before anybody moves out of their current beat or leadership role - a distinct possibility - is absolutely maddening for me. At present, it feels like every move I make has to be vetted through about five channels, and as someone who considers himself a potential leader, either on a major beat or in a managerial spot, that gets old.

    How have others handled this? Part of me wants to discuss it with my superiors to perhaps revamp my role, but on the other hand, then it sounds like you think you're too good to do the job you were hired to do (I've been here about two years).

    Is good old-fashioned patience the only way to go?

    Perhaps I should have asked about the probability of promotions before I accepted the job, but I naively thought that the natural course of things allowed people, if they did good work and showed initiative, to move up at a decent rate as they stayed somewhere.
  2. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    Do you work at a newspaper? Because I don't know of a single newspaper where the "lifers" aren't vulnerable right now due to their salaries and just the general state of the industry. The majority of newspapers are doing the layoff/buyout thing right now. Youth is what you have on your side.

    My "assvice" would be to stay aggressive while maintaining respect for those above you. Find that balance. You could also keep your ears open for other opportunities... And learn from the older guys -- who knows how long you'll have that resource.
  3. Hammer Pants

    Hammer Pants Active Member

    Don't be afraid to say what you think. Two years is enough time to do that. One of my absolute favorite things about our SE is that after one year, he sat me down and told me to be more vocal about my opinions and not to back down from anyone if I really believe them. This was before he promoted me from utility infielder to one of our bigger beats.

    But respect for the vets is a must, too. But it's really not a hard line to walk. It's OK to let them know you think they're wrong if you're respectful about it. They won't always be respectful in return, but fuck it, they're old.
  4. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Hammer is on the right track here but a little caution is necessary.

    If you feel stuck after only 2 years, you could be heading for a problem. Talk to your SE now about the future...not about getting there next week or next month but hey, what's the prognosis for my future here in say a year or so?
    Do not let the vets know you think they're wrong, it will only make your situation more uncomfortable. Talk to your SE with suggestions that might make things better ... propose solutions, don't bitch about the old guys being a problem.

    Above all, be patient. Two years should be enough time to talk to your SE about opportunities in the not-too-distant future but it's not enough time to act like you're entitled to be doing more than you are now.
  5. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Depends. Are you at a union shop that has rules for layoffs?
    If so, the youngsters usually go first. If not, the old guys with the higher salaries go...
  6. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    Slappy, rest assured when management wants to dump its vets, the union is hardly an immovable obstacle.
  7. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Depends. If they have to layoff according to seniority (or lack of it), it's pretty much iron clad. I was in a similar situation in mylast union job, but applied to be a paginator and it saved my back. Similar to Akron.
    But if there is no clause for seniority and layoffs, anything goes.
  8. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    Typically, a company and union will negotiate a buyout package for senior staffers to get beyond "last in-first out" rules for layoffs.
  9. Sxysprtswrtr

    Sxysprtswrtr Active Member

    The layoffs and buyouts "appear" to be happening at the bigger shops. In my area, all the papers 75K-circ and below -- they have lifers who are there and will always be there. Smaller papers rely on the vets and on the whole, if you're at a 10K-circ paper, you're not making six digits in salary so they can afford to keep ya forever.
  10. Stuck

    Stuck New Member

    This paper is in the 50-100 circ. range. And layoffs aren't an issue. They don't happen here (knock on wood), nor would I want them to.

    I guess ultimately I wonder if editors are amenable to conversations that go, "I want to stay here, and I want to know if you're willing to mold my role so that it's a win-win for both of us if I do stay here."
  11. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry, that just sounds naive in my opinion.

    Good luck.
  12. e4

    e4 Member

    Do what the mafia guy says....


    Promotions. Guys tend to approach them in one of three ways. First of all, there are the babbos -- guys who don't want any more responsibility than earning just enough for drinks and girls. Second, there are the idealists who think their work will speak for itself and that they will move up when the time is right, when they have paid their dues. Third are the cutthroat climbers who can't stop until they’re capodecinas. These guys have their egos on a trajectory that even NASA can't match.

    I've learned a few things about how to move up the ladder, and it's never perfect. Promotions involve people, politics, timing, the market, and a million nuances that can skew the results.

    If you'd like to move up, but feel concerned about stepping on someone's toes, then I must tell you: You're wrong. If losing quality bar time with your babbo pals worries you, then you are wrong. If the fear of a new learning curve and new responsibilities keeps you awake at night, take a shot of cognac and hit the sack. Why? Because you are wrong. Get rid of that nervous change purse and look at change for what it is: opportunity. Moving up is part of life, it keeps you young. Staying in one place eventually becomes a rut.

    As for how to move up, take an approach that lies somewhere between the idealist and the cutthroat. Before you go for the throat, consider some ways to "inspire" your boss and enlighten him without, for example, threatening to slice his hamstrings.

    Become the go-to guy

    If you had brothers and sisters, you remember how one sibling became the default voice of the group. He was the bearer of bad news, the explainer, the one who made sure the table got cleared. Now, as an adult, you are in a grown-up brotherhood that hardly differs, and somebody naturally emerges as the go-to guy, even without anyone declaring it. When bad news needs to be presented to the boss, get serious, steel up and have the guts to do it. Chances are the boss will gain respect for you if you face him with valuable information, especially if it concerns his operations and cash flow.

    Highlight your accomplishments

    A boss remembers jobs performed, especially if he's regularly "reminded" of the success of a project. If it was your idea to skim profits from the casino, then mention how much additional tax-free money you've hauled in. On the other hand, don't beat a dead horse; you'll look like an Empty Suit. Always be involved in several active projects. Most bosses don't think, "What have you done for me?" They wonder, "What have you done for me lately?"

    Put in extra hours and don’t try to become capo in two days… Next >>
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