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Getting back in it

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by PMO, Mar 7, 2020.

  1. PMO

    PMO New Member

    Hey all ... don't know how many of you have gotten out of the business then tried to get back in after a bunch of years, but here I am. I just wanted to pick everyone's brains here for a bit, or just commiserate.

    I had been employed at a newspaper every day of my life from the age of 16 to 42. It was in that last year I fell in love with the perfect woman whose career was entirely incompatible with stability: She is a career Army officer.

    So in order to be together and be flexible for whenever she would have to PCS to another locale, I walked away from a wonderful gig at a great newspaper. Seven years later, she is now closing in on retirement and we are looking for a place to start our second act.

    Now, I have been freelancing all along and for one year in there, I worked full-time at a local newspaper. When my wife was promoted to Major and shifted into a JSOC role, her duties became insane and her hours overwhelming, so I quit that full-time gig to be available whenever her sporadic downtime sprang itself upon us.

    I've missed the day-to-day badly. Never wanting to leave in the first place, now I fear the perception of perspective employers is that the game has somehow passed me by. It hasn't. I feel fresh out of college, frankly. The years away from full-time work were beneficial in that I got a lot of time to be with my son, so it wasn't all bad, but y'all know what I'm talking about.

    I guess what I'm looking for from the good folks here is a story swap. I'd like to hear about other people in the same predicament I'm in or people who have found their way back to this wacky profession of ours.I want to know what, if anything, proved to be a necessary hurdle to be cleared with prospective employers. This is me tooting my own horn, for sure, but I was damn good at what I did and all I want to do is do it again.

    And, of course, if you have a job opening ... I'M HIRED! ;)
  2. 2muchcoffeeman

    2muchcoffeeman Well-Known Member

    The way the industry is collapsing at its core, you’re better off running away from it.
  3. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Where are you and your lady looking to have your second act? Are you both flexible in where you can live, or is it one specific area that you are looking? Is she also looking for work? That is another factor.

    I’m sure you’ve noticed, but newspapers haven’t exactly been the most stable industry in years, and it’s only gotten worse since you left and the emphasis is on younger (polite word for cheaper) employees. Do you have your heart set on newspapers? Or do you just miss working full time and you would be willing to work in journalism on a website or in a different industry?

    Depending on what you’re seeking, your skills do translate to other industries, and you can explain to prospective employers, whether you are in newspapers or not, that you took time off because your partner was in the military, you were moving around with her, and now that she’s retired, so you can settle down again.

    Also, network heavily. Try to get ahold of your former coworkers and employers and see if they’re willing to put in a good word for you.

    As for me, I was out of the business after a lay-off for more than a year. I ended up back in the biz because the hiring editor had worked for my previous paper, albeit he had left before I was hired there. So he knew that anyone who had been hired there was good, and he was friendly with my previous bosses, so when he talked to them about me, he valued their opinion.
    PMO likes this.
  4. Marvin

    Marvin Active Member

    I agree, where are you? That’ll make a big difference in assessing the possibilities. Plus, what’s the ideal gig?
    PMO likes this.
  5. PMO

    PMO New Member

    I'm in North Carolina, but I've worked all over the country. While I'm really easy and can find the joy in just about any locale, my wife wants to live somewhere we can spend the days off out in nature. I agree. The great thing about being an Army family is moving expenses are unnecessary. When she retires, they'll move our stuff wherever we land. :)

    EDIT: Oh, ideal gig? There again, I'm very easy. I've been a sports editor, a designer, a beat reporter, a columnist and an enterprise writer. An ideal gig probably no longer exists anywhere but at the big puppies (producing long-form enterprise or investigative pieces). I've covered all the big stuff (World Series, Super Bowls, etc.) but my purest joy is in talking to high school and small college athletes. I have no illusions about jumping back in where I was before I left. I'd be happy to spend the rest of my days as a high schools reporter. I can also be just as happy as a mentoring editor. I guess this is just the long way for me to say I love every part of being in this biz and I've missed it every day.
  6. PMO

    PMO New Member

    Yep, I get what you're saying about the biz. I have been fortunate in that quite a few people I know and love in this biz are still shoveling words into the paragraph furnaces. I've picked up some photography and video capabilities during these years of freelancing and have my own equipment. My first interest is getting back into newspapers, in whatever form they exist, but of course web sites, radio and specific interest publications are outlets I must be open to. I have faith that the newspaper industry will eventually find its equilibrium, likely post-print.

    What you say about informing prospective employers concerning why I have been out of the biz: That has been my primary concern. I am trying to get out in front of it with any cover letter or email I send, since I fear if they only open my resume, they'll see the hole and toss it without knowing the context. I suppose that's all I can really do on that front. It worries me, though.

    I am slowly winding up my personal PR machine, hoping all the great folks and former coworkers I contact are willing to hit the spin room for me. So far, so good on that front.

    My wife just wants to end up somewhere we can have an active outdoor life. She's going to pull a living wage in retirement pay, so she is pursuing her passion to be a yoga instructor who one day owns her own studio. She doesn't care if it's warm or cold. She loved being stationed at Fairbanks, for example (fortuitously, a recent job opening for which I've already applied, lol). She grew up in Arkansas and doesn't want to return. I grew up in Kansas and, save for the two amazing college towns of Manhattan and Lawrence, I suppose I'd rather be elsewhere. So I guess those are our vetos. :)
    Baron Scicluna likes this.
  7. PMO

    PMO New Member

    LOL ... yeah, it's a complicated lover, to be sure. But ...

    PaperDoll likes this.
  8. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    Your ability to do all the things I bolded is a strong selling point ... provided you find a place that still values print. And there are a few small dailies (such as my shop) which have trouble finding young journalists who can write, edit copy and paginate — not to mention have the news judgement that is a plus to any online or print organization.

    The major hurdle, of course, is pay — everybody wants a bushel basket full of skills and experience at the discount price. So if you're willing to accept a lower salary with your skill set, I think you'll find a paper willing to hire you.
    PMO likes this.
  9. PMO

    PMO New Member

    This is probably me tipping way too much of my hand (wait, I've already been doing that, right? LOL) but I'm not concerned about the lower pay. If it's a living wage, I'm good. My wife will have her Army retirement pay plus whatever gig she winds up doing. We've got some loot stashed away. Got a house we can sell. If I'm slingin' sentences and tellin' stories, that's a wee bit of pay in itself. :)
  10. Sam Mills 51

    Sam Mills 51 Well-Known Member

    There are no worthwhile gigs in North Carolina - or I don't know the right people. Moved somewhere else because there were no gigs of any sort where I was, not just the biz.

    I like your enthusiasm for the biz and it borders on a necessity because of all the other crap that continues to get poured on the industry's employees. But too many poorly run operations making too many poor decisions will wear on anyone.

    Good luck. Take care ...
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2020
  11. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    For whatever it is worth if anyone IS hiring - I've worked with PMO before and he IS damn good. I sicced him on the person he worked with in that full-time gig he mentioned and the guy hasn't stopped thanking me.

    He brings a ton of ability and work ethic.

    I have an opening on my current team but it is for an editor, not a writer. So, no, I won't be hiring him for that. But someone ought to be snapping him up real quick.
    PMO likes this.
  12. PMO

    PMO New Member

    Shoot, high praise indeed! Thanks!

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