1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

How Editors Judge What Job Applicants Bring 2 The Table

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by big green wahoo, May 21, 2008.

  1. I mentioned this in the Springfield, Mo., link on the Jobs board, but I figure not everyone's going to look at that, so I'm going to mention this issue here as well. I'm genuinely interested in what folks think about this one.

    The reply below is what I got back just now after applying for a job covering Missouri State women's hoops. I declined to ``prove'' myself in these particular ways and I find it a little odd that these are their criteria.

    I've been in this business for 15 years and my clips get a lot of positive feedback. But I doubt they were even read in this case and why send them in if I'm going to be judged on writing an essay? I haven't done that since J-School in classes that taught me next to nothing.

    Or am I the one who's wrong here? Happens all the time.

    Thanks for your interest in the News-Leader Media Group’s sports reporting position. As part of our recruiting process, we will need you to complete two exercises to help us assess your skills.

    The first exercise is to write an essay. The second is to create four story ideas. These assignments will help us winnow the list of candidates.

    Your deadline for all the above is 5 p.m. Thursday, May 29. You can e-mail the assignments to me by the deadline. If your materials are posted on a Web site, please provide me with a link by the deadline.

    Full disclosure here: There are so many good candidates for this position that even the slightest misstep – misspellings, inattention to detail, a missed deadline – will eliminate you from consideration.

    Assignment 1: Essay.

    I would like you to explore this question: “Is there too much emphasis placed on winning in college athletics?” There is no length requirement. I want to see your logic and critical thinking, your ability to express yourself and how well you articulate your point of view.

    Assignment 2: Story ideas.

    At the News-Leader, we have reporters who cover sports. But they are reporters first and foremost. They, like other reporters in our newsroom, are critical thinkers. I’m looking for reporters who can get beyond the scores and games and generic coverage to create daily enterprise stories that inform and enlighten and delight. Too many clips from applicants thus far have been soft features or game stories. Our readers deserve more. How can you prove that you can do the work required?

    1) Give me four story ideas that you will write about the Missouri State University’s women’s basketball program. If you want to make the cut, you’ll need to do your homework and learn all you can about the Lady Bears. Then you’ll need to develop four smart, enterprising, innovative ideas that are must-reads for our community. Generic ideas aren’t going to make the cut. Think enterprise. Be specific.

    2) For each story idea, give me four primary sources you will use to report the story and why each is important. Sources can be data or human. But, again, be specific. (ie: Don’t tell me you’ll look at NCAA data. Show me why – specifically -- the NCAA’s 2008 graduation report will make your story better and more authoritative)

    With all these assignments, I’m looking to see your creativity, your curiosity and your critical thinking skills at work. Everybody wants to be a sports writer. Show me how you will do it differently. These are tough assignments, to be sure. But covering the world of sports is more complicated than it has ever been. We need the best and brightest to do it, not those who want to be fans. Got what it takes?
  2. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    In this market? Such tactics will winnow a bulging field down to managable size.

    Risk, of course, is, that some real crack talent will resent this level of hoops-jumping.
  3. pallister

    pallister Guest

  4. Jeremy Goodwin

    Jeremy Goodwin Active Member

    The field is probably bulging more than ever since it is graduation season. Mizzou's graduation was last weekend and I bet lots of those grads would love to stay instate.
  5. spup1122

    spup1122 Guest

    Missouri State's graduation was last weekend, too, and for some reason Springfield retains a lot of its graduates. I don't understand the complaint. Do you want to apply for the job or not? It's pretty simple. If you do, complete their requirement. If you don't, don't finish the essay and story ideas by the deadline. Easy enough.
  6. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    For research, I stick with Wikipedia, Facebook or MySpace, the Web site that publishes sexually-based gossip about girls on campus, and my favorite of course; SportsJournalists.com.
  7. Well, I doubt I qualify as ``real crack talent'' but again, what are you possibly going to be able to tell about my skills from writing an essay on this huge, unwieldy topic that you can't tell from my clips?

    Perhaps if I were right out of school. Or had never covered college hoops. But I'm neither. After 15 years in the biz and experience at four papers, I think my track record shows both my successes and failures.

    If essay writing is so important, then why not put it up front in the job posting? Will I be asked to write essays for print? Do you think I got to the decent level of professional accomplishment I have by not being able to report, write, think critically and organize?

    I'm sure tons of folks are preparing their essays for this guy as I type. But I still don't get it.

    Then again, I didn't understand why my driving record was so important to the last place I applied...
  8. alleyallen

    alleyallen Guest

    Not sure that it's really all that unreasonable a request.

    At my first post-Navy gig, I actually interviewed while I was still on active duty and home on leave. They asked me to cover a playoff game free of charge, which I readily did.

    At the second, they wanted me to go to lunch with the staff to see how I interacted. And to see what I would order, oddly enough.
  9. spup1122

    spup1122 Guest

    To be blunt, there are a lot of people out there looking for jobs in this business. People are being laid off left and right. If you're not willing to go above and beyond and do what an editor wants to get a job, maybe you shouldn't be applying for jobs. You're complaining that they're asking you to write an essay or come up with story ideas this week. Last week, you were complaining they were checking your driving record.

    You'd obviously rather be where you are or unemployed than write an essay. So be it. Let someone who wants to work have the job.
  10. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    Anyone ever take that Knight Ridder management examination and logic test?
    I'd rather have my ear whittled down with a cheese grater than take that fucker, again.
  11. hondo

    hondo Well-Known Member

    Well, in your case, I hope you don't bring clips that show you writing like you're texting your BFF ... such as the title of this thread.
  12. pallister

    pallister Guest

Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page