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Byline quotas....anybody else dealing with this?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by swamp trash, Feb 9, 2011.

  1. swamp trash

    swamp trash Guest

    Fairly new SE at a 2-man operation. Quota is 15 stories per week. They're pretty strict about it.

    Coverage area is small....5 high schools, 2 small colleges.

    Anybody else dealing with this kind of situation? I'd appreciate any advice. We're running out of story ideas fast and trying to get 3 stories in a day prevents us from putting together decent quality centerpieces.
  2. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    The only thing byline quotas do is teach you to put bylines on stupid things that wouldn't normally get bylines (or see the light of print).
  3. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    Worst. Idea. Ever. (Newspaper division)
  4. swamp trash

    swamp trash Guest

    To some extent, I see the usefulness of a quota. I wouldn't mind something more reasonable, say 5-7 stories per week. At least I'd have the time to do some quality pieces.
  5. beardown

    beardown Member

    When we were primarily print, we had byline quotas because of our laziest employees. When we downsized and went digital-first like everyone else with 24/7 blogging, we got rid of it.

    At a 2-man shop, just slap bylines on briefs, roundups, rewritten press releases, etc. 15 does sound like crap, though
  6. jfs1000

    jfs1000 Member

    Bad idea. Just a manger who thinks that by lines = productivity.

    What he should be concerned about is quality and whether what's getting covered is being covered. When you have quotas, your section gets out of whack. I remember at a shop we had a quota and by mid-summer we were writing about adult bowling and covering a local adult baseball league like it was the minor leagues.

    They got better coverage than all our high school teams. Why? Timing.

    Do they take into account staff reports on called in games? How about layout and design? Sports writers usually have design and desk duties that news journalists don't have even at small dailies.
  7. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Put a byline on every little brief or capsule you write. I'm guessing you didn't ask what the expectations were for the job going in?
  8. swamp trash

    swamp trash Guest

    Oh, that's the best part. We're also a hub so we have to do five agate pages a night. Layout of the section itself is done by the design desk but sports staff is required to do agate, which takes up 2 hours by itself even on a smooth day.

    I figure I've got another six months before I burn out, I'm just trying to not to get fired until I can find something else. Kid on the way. FML.
  9. swamp trash

    swamp trash Guest

    No, I knew. But it was either take the job or lose the house. I'm trying to do a good job while I'm there, just need a little insight from somebody who's done it before.
  10. Gomer

    Gomer Active Member

    Been there, got through it. You know how sometimes you'll have a brief within a story that you use a subhead to separate? Now that's it's own bylined story. That called-in score you used to run as agate? Write two sentences and slap a byline on it.

    Eventually the bosses here stopped counting stories because they saw it was pointless. Now they're just thrilled that we can get the section filled by deadline.

    By the way, I'm in a two-man department now. We do our own layout as well. Four nights a week it's a one-man section. You make do with what you have, make the teams you're covering understand and convince them to send you the content you need to write from your desk. Every once in a while get out to a game to keep your sanity.
  11. Three stories and page design duties every day is way steep if they expect you not to slap a byline on every call-in and brief.

    Someone's already said it, but that leads to nothing but quantity-over-quality work.
  12. mediaguy

    mediaguy Active Member

    An inflexible rule like that almost guarantees you won't have the Sunday pullout feature that people will actually remember, but will instead have a steady barrage of eight-inch bowling notebooks cobbled together from faxes from area lanes. Win!
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