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Getting back in the biz

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Rhody31, Jun 30, 2014.

  1. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    I've been out journalism for 18 months, not by choice.
    Today a paper began advertising for a job. I'm more than qualified for it.
    I just don't know if I want it.
    Right now I'm working full-time as a caddy and I pick up a day at another course working in the shop. I'm making anywhere from 150-250 a day caddying, most of it cash, and because of all the running involved, I'm in the best shape I've been in since my mid-20s. I don't get to see my kids as often as I'd like, but I can take days off pretty much whenever I need to so it's not a problem if I want to go away for a weekend with the family.
    I'm happy and I know it.
    But I don't know if I'm totally happy.
    Being in journalism is all I've ever wanted to do. I don't care how shitty things look, it's what I want to do.
    This gig opens up and I've heard some stories. I'm familiar with the company. I'm horrified at what the pay might be.
    I don't know if it will make me happy or not. I don't know if I want to get back into the grind.
    This is one of those moments in life where I feel like this job could help me get things back into it and if a job ever opens at the big paper, lead me there, but it could also be a job that makes me wonder why in the hell I want to do this.
    Sorry for spewing here. No place else to go. I'm just so torn and I feel like any decision I make I'm going to be questioning it for the rest of my life.
  2. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member


    If you think you MIGHT be interested, go ahead and apply. Investigate. If further down the road it doesn't seem right to you, it's OK to politely decline any offer.
  3. BurnsWhenIPee

    BurnsWhenIPee Well-Known Member

    Definitely apply. Things may make themselves more clear down the road.

    How long have you been doing the caddying? I ask because I assume that money goes away from November-March - is that a problem?

    I was that way for a long time with newspapers. It was the only thing I had ever done and it truly made me happy, even with the crappy pay, crappy hours, etc. There are still days I miss it, years after getting out. So you're not alone.
  4. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Rhody, your job does not define you.

    You don't need this to make you happy. I fucking fix espresso machines for a living. It's not glamorous. I had sexier jobs in the past. But, this pays the bills, and allows me to enjoy my life.

    Find that. It might not be what you are doing now, but you can find it. And, find some other way to scratch your journalism itch if you have to.
  5. You'd see your kids more working as a journalist, plus make less money? As for thinking you could go on to a bigger paper, what would change this time?
  6. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    Burns - The money does go away come Oct. 15. Technically, I work for a company that is hired by the club to employ us as caddies. We're paid based on our duties (forecaddying for a foursome is $40 on the paycheck) plus gratuities (minimum is $80 per group); that doesn't count the cash that usually comes with it. All that adds up when you get out five times a week and because of what's on the check I'll be able to collect unemployment until the season starts again May 15. Oh, and I married a woman who was smart enough to major in something that takes care of her family.
    Walter - I don't know if I'd see my kids more or less. My worry is I'd turn a 40-hour a week job into a 60 hour a week one like I did at my last gig when I didn't have a kid. With the caddy gig, I wake up with them, bring them to my mother's on days my wife doesn't work, then pick them up anytime between 3 and 7 p.m., depending on what time I get done. I don't know if I like the idea of saying goodbye to them at 3 p.m. and not seeing them again until the next morning, but I do like the idea of having two days off with nothing work-related to do.
    As for setting me up at a bigger paper, it's come to my attention that the ones who do the hiring want people with a certain type of experience, regardless of their work. My last gig I was at a weekly paper and doing a damn good job, but it didn't carry the same weight as someone at a daily. I'd rather be in a spot where I have a daily paper attached to my name.
    I'm going for it because I think I'd hate myself more if I didn't.
    And in honor of me going for it, I'm gonna play 18 holes of golf on a PGA Tour course after I work tomorrow just in case I don't get a chance to do it again.
  7. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    Can I make a suggestion, whether this works out or not: Pitch something to a golf publication as a freelancer. I'm talking like Golf Digest, Golf Weekly, etc. I don't know what exactly, but seems like it would be a way to combine the two worlds. Golf writing is certainly hard to get into, but having experience doing the caddying thing could certainly help open a door somewhere to one assignment, which maybe becomes two, three, etc. There has to be a good caddy story that's not Steve Williams or Fluff Cowan or Jim McKay that a publication would be interested in running. Just having done it would seemingly give you better perspective than most scribes.

    Just thinking out loud. Feel free to ignore.
  8. BurnsWhenIPee

    BurnsWhenIPee Well-Known Member

    Good luck, and I think it's the right move. If you hate it, in 2 years you can move on, go back to caddying, whatever. If you pass, you'll always be wondering if you did the right thing.
  9. Bronco77

    Bronco77 Well-Known Member


    Your story resonates with me because I went through something similar four years ago. I'd been "strongly advised" to accept a buyout from my newspaper in 2008 and had been making decent money (albeit without benefits) as a work-at-home freelance editor for almost two years. But when a newspaper 75 miles away advertised for a night editor, I said, "What the hell," and applied -- even though my qualifications didn't really fit everything they wanted and it was a much smaller operation than the major metros I'd spent most of my career with.

    Much to my surprise, I got the offer. It would mean (a) going back to working night hours and handling difficult, stressful situations, (b) accepting a salary that was about $20,000 a year less than what I'd been making at my old paper and below what I was earning as a freelancer, and (c) living away from home five days a week and commuting home on days off. And except for (c), I couldn't have been happier about it. So I said yes. And I've never regretted it. I was even able to make a job change two years ago that got me closer to home and allowed me to move back permanently, with slightly better pay. Given industry conditions, there's no way of knowing if my job will be around for the five or so years until I can retire somewhat comfortably, but to me it was a chance worth taking.

    Thus, I think you're making the right decision by applying -- nothing ventured, nothing gained. You have nothing to lose. If the situation isn't right, you can say no and still be on the lookout for something that may be a better fit. Best of luck with whatever happens!
  10. I'll never tell

    I'll never tell Active Member

    My only question I think you have to ask yourself is this: Would you really get to see your kids more if you take the newspaper job? My experience with smaller papers is they try, and mostly succeed, in working the hell out of you. If you're making good enough money now, and you CAN take off whenever you want, take one day every two weeks that's strictly kid day.

    In the meantime, scratch your itch with some kind of internet gig (I don't know about your area, but in the deep South, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a Rivals or some other kind of college site; They all want content, and if you've got chops, it'll open the door quicker for one-off freelance pieces.)

    Just a thought.
  11. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Rhody, I wish you the best, but I'm not rooting for you to get this job. I understand why you are applying, and I hope this will let you leave it behind with no regrets.

    I like DD's ideas. Approach it from a completely different angle. Use the experiences you have as an advantage.

    As for getting back on the ladder, employers don't only want certain experience, they want to see other things too. They want to see a certain career trajectory. In today's employment situation -- and this is amplified in journalism -- employers are looking to cover their ass first. They make safe hires. This means they will hire the guy/gal with the degree from the top school, who had the right internships, and has been steadily moving up. Yes, content/excellence matters. But, at the level you're talking about, it's harder and harder to stand out based on excellence. (And, it's hard at every level. Folks are always going to be looking at the safe hire, but it's a numbers game too. The lower you are on the ladder, the more folks who are eligible, and the harder it is to stand out.)

    And, there are other ways to tell stories, and use your creative side.

    Check out something like The Moth: http://themoth.org/events?category=21

    It's not journalism, but it's storytelling, and it's an opportunity to communicate on another level. There's even an event tonight. I bet you would dig it.
  12. daemon

    daemon Well-Known Member

    I agree with this. Journalism is something you can do on your own time.
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