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Covering an event for a job interview?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by BigBlue, Jun 3, 2009.

  1. BigBlue

    BigBlue New Member

    Greetings folks,

    I had an interview tonight with a newspaper that, as part of its "standard interview," brought me in for a one-on-one interview with the managing editor, a two-on-one interview that included the sports editor and a meeting with the rest of the folks in the sports department.

    All seemed typical until the tables were turned and I was given an assignment - to head out to a state championship tournament softball game and write a game story. They wanted to "check my raw copy" and my "ability to write on deadline," both of which I thought were baffling notions.

    Part of me thinks that in this day and age, with so many people applying for so few jobs, it's a chance to weed out the crap and see who's really interested. But I must say, my entire time at the game (which wasn't much of one, thank God), I couldn't help but think how insulting this was. I took the night off for this interview and ended up working - and won't see a dime from it.

    Is this standard fare anymore? I can't imagine that any company that asks its potential hires to go out and cover a game is a good place to work for. Thankfully, I have recieved no indication that they're going to use the game story tomorrow, which is great for me because that means my current employer won't know but also makes me feel like I misled the coach and players I talked to. It was also a bit more acceptable knowing that the game I was at was probably a 20-minute walk from the offices, so it wasn't anything worthwhile mileage-wise.

    Anyone have experience in this situation, or at least any other thoughts?
  2. Point of Order

    Point of Order Active Member

    No notice? Spur of the moment? You weren't sure whether they were going to use the story you wrote in the paper? Whoa!
  3. clutchcargo

    clutchcargo Active Member

    Sounds like a cheap way for a paper to get a bylined story. They probably are "interviewing" 2 or 3 candidates a day to beef up their sports section while cutting expenses.

    Seriously, it's not a bad idea in terms of properly vetting a candidate. Clips often can be very misleading. I say, just roll with it and do a good job with the story. If they run the story and don't hire you, send them an invoice for $150.
  4. clutchcargo

    clutchcargo Active Member

    Better yet, send the invoice whether or not they run the story.
  5. crusoes

    crusoes Active Member

    At an interview part of my test was to interview a guy who was an umpire somewhere. Turned out he worked in the press room. I got the job, and they ran it. I saw the story taped to his door.
  6. Point of Order

    Point of Order Active Member

    Another benefit to the paper: "if the guy doesn't ask in advance to be paid for the story we know we can lowball him with our offer and screw him with unpaid overtime at every turn."
  7. Roscablo

    Roscablo Member

    About 10 years ago I interviewed with a weekly and part of it was covering a city council meeting. Of course this was thrown out in the open from the very beginning along with the possibility it would be published and I agreed to it, right or wrong. To be blindsided by such a chore is a bit much.
  8. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I've had tryouts on the desk, that's standard at some places. Almost always, it was paid and always arranged beforehand. I haven't worked anywhere that tried out writers while I was there.

    There was, a long time ago, a paper that ran a long piece without a byline. It stuck in my mind because it was a great piece -- it had to do with contingency plans that pro sports leagues (or maybe it was just MLB, I don't remember) had for restocking a team if the team plane went down. This was not very long after Thurman Munson died, IIRC. Coincidentally, a few years later I wound up working with the guy who wrote it. I forget how it came up -- something about great but sick stories. The guy says, "Yeah, I wrote that. It was a tryout piece and they couldn't run my byline because they weren't going to offer me the job and it would have gotten me in trouble with (the paper he worked for at the time)." He wound up quitting the biz a couple years later to be a lawyer.
  9. KevinmH9

    KevinmH9 Active Member

    I had an occurrence like this come up in an interview I had with a small paper in northern New Hampshire a few months ago. I sat down with the EIC and had a normal one-on-one interview, we shook hands and I was on my way back home.

    A few days later, she called me and told me that as part of the process to find the ideal editor that she was seeking, she was having every applicant go out and cover a game/tournament.

    I went, covered the tournament and sent the story in that evening. I got a call back about her receiving the story, but that was all I heard.

    I can't say I was insulted by it, though. I can totally understand that when a paper is looking for a writer/editor who can write on deadline, be an efficient writer without heavy copy editing needed, etc.
  10. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Yes you have.
  11. FileNotFound

    FileNotFound Well-Known Member

    I've done this. Treated it like a freelance assignment, and yes, I was paid as such. Got the job, too.
  12. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Seen this done before, too. It was always, always treated like a freelance assignment.

    You do any work for them, even as a tryout, they better pay you for it.
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