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Is it possible?...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Rusty Shackleford, Oct 10, 2006.

  1. Rusty Shackleford

    Rusty Shackleford Active Member

    OK, I know it is, techically speaking, possible, but still...

    How many people out there start at small papers and end up either at a big paper or with an impressive job (pro/college beat, columnist, SE) or both? I ask because it seems that anytime there's an opening on the jobs board that makes me think "Man, I'd love to have that job," the person who end up getting it has credentials that are just out of this world. I mean, the person will have started at a 100k plus paper, or with a major beat, right out of college, and work up from there.

    Meanwhile, I almost never hear of people who began at Podunk papers ending up with those kinds of positions. It seems to me that if you start at a paper with either a) a circulation in the 100k range or b) a college beat, you'll end up in a great job if you want. But people like me who start at 20k dailies doing half desk/half writing, will never end up much better than that 100k paper so many others start at.

    I guess it's just frustration on my part. I didn't realize I wanted to do this until I was halfway through college at a school not at all known for journalism that didn't provide any help or guidance with internships and has few notable alumni in this field. And at this point, I've only got a few years' experience. But I see people with the same years' experience I have landing jobs that I'll still be looking longingly at in 10 years, and it frustrates me. And I see some of the people landing these jobs and realize that if in 10 years I'm working at the paper they started at I'd be very surprised, and I just get pissed off and frustrated.

    Anyway, that's my depressed, probably incoherent rant for the night. Goodnight.
  2. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    The only thing I have to add is this: I am the only person known to be in journalism that graduated from my college. Good luck to me having that on my resume.
  3. gauchoguy16

    gauchoguy16 Member

    I graduated from a university without a journalism program, but I did work there as SE and EIC my soph. and jr. years. Even then my first job was half-desk/half-writing at a 20,000 paper overshadowed by many others in the area. I worked there 11 months, moved on to a 75,000, worked there 11 months, then moved to my current 190,000 and have been a MLB beat writer the past two years. I am 26. It can be done.

    I don't want this to seem like I might be saying "Look at me" or anything, but instead to give you hope that if you work hard, make some contacts, build up your clips (that could be the best thing about a smaller paper - more freedom to write enterprise pieces or so-called "clips pieces") and apply for jobs on a ladder system, it will work.

    Good luck and keep your chin up.
  4. slipshod

    slipshod Member

    Well, it USED to be possible. I started out at a tiny PMs daily right out of high school, worked part-time at that paper and the Eugene Register-Guard when I transferred to Oregon. Went to work news-side for another small daily, then hooked on at the AP and worked my way to some good gigs _ nine Olympics, NBA playoffs, World Series, Super Bowl, Final Fours, etc.....
    But it was a process, didn't happen overnight. Tried to improve my writing and reporting along the way. The bullshitting part of it seemed to come naturally.
  5. MC Sports Guy

    MC Sports Guy Member

    I know someone who started out a small daily (around 13,000) and is now the SE at a paper at least seven times that size. Does that make you feel better?
  6. Stupid

    Stupid Member

    A guy that started out at our 17K daily is now one of the AP writers for the area. he made the jump straight from here to there. he's young enough and talented enough to be at a much bigger paper someday.
  7. imjustagirl2

    imjustagirl2 New Member

    I started at a 12K paper, worked there five years, got a job at a 180K paper.

    Make contacts, build clips, and apply for everything. Contacts, contacts, contacts. You'll find out about jobs that may never even be posted.
  8. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    As they say, it's all about who you know. I, unfortunately, don't know the right people. Yet.
  9. Precious Roy

    Precious Roy Active Member

    Don't get caught up on guys like Snow, he's an f'n stud...

    You can get there someday if you just stay persistant enough.
  10. mannheimadler

    mannheimadler Member

    Sometimes, though, it seems hard to break through when you're at a smaller paper because so many papers seem to promote from within.

    I'm cool with that because I feel you should reward people who work hard for you and do well, but it is a little frustrating because it seems to make it hard for some of us to get our foot in the door.

    My question lately has been is it better to wait it out and try to get a similar job to the one you have at a bigger paper (I cover a small D-I college and preps).

    Or is it better to get your foot in the door at said bigger paper and take a lower job there (such as a page designer or covering preps exclusively)? I've been debating this for a while now and would appreciate some input.
  11. Crimson Tide

    Crimson Tide Member

    My former SE started as an education writer in Montana, became a sports writer, then SE at a 23K, now he's the high school editor at a 100K. He's maybe 35, so unless he really fucks up, he'll be fine. In his case, I don't know if he had a ton of contacts, but he blew away his competition on his editing and speed. Under him, we rarely missed deadline.
  12. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    I don't know how much it's changed, if any, but Simers went from DeKalb, Ill., to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, to Beloit, Wis., to Morristown, N.J., to Memphis to Denver to San Diego to the Times OC and finally to the Times.

    Some pretty small papers there.

    On the other hand, Plaschke and Wojciechowski both were doing preps in Fort Lauderdale before moving on to bigger and better things. In other words, they started higher doing lower-level things.

    Works both ways, still, I'd think.
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