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Is there a benefit to working at a PM daily?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Riddick, Jun 17, 2006.

  1. Riddick

    Riddick Active Member

    A buddy of mine recently accepted a gig at a small, p.m. daily. For the veterans on here, how do employers view something like that? Sure, he gets to run things there, but it IS an evening paper.
    Should working at a PM daily be something to avoid at all costs?
  2. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    It really helps if you like getting up early.

    I can't imagine that a hiring editor would have any concerns ... after all, nobody has to work harder than a sports writer at a PM.
  3. Beach_Bum

    Beach_Bum Member

    Nah, it's not a big deal. Good writing is good writing, good clips are good clips.

    It's a fallacy that PM papers have more significantly more deadline time. At most PMs I know, that's not really true. Good work is good work, no matter what time it gets published. Where the PM could be a factor is in job security and salary, IMO. Outside of very small markets, there are not many PMs left and the ones that survive are, in many cases, just trying to stay afloat. That could affect salary and leverage.
  4. ECrawford

    ECrawford Member

    Granted, it's been seven or eight years since I worked for a P.M., but I had all kinds of time to write gamers. Basically, all the time I wanted. I can't recall ever having to hit the button, then turn around and have the write-through filed in 30 or 45 minutes at a P.M.

    I've always thought that P.M. work, if you can get it, is a great thing. The big reason is that, unless you want to parrot what the A.M. daily is writing, you are going to take the most obvious angle and toss it out. Then you come at the game or whatever story you're doing with a different slant. And that's a great practice to get into.
  5. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    Sure. Unless you're a dot com dork. In which case it doesn't count.
  6. TheHacker

    TheHacker Member

    The problem with being at a PM is the fact that unless you're at one with a good-sized staff, you're going to work a split shift -- mornings to edit and lay out pages and afternoons/evenings to cover games and write. I did it it a paper where we had two full-timers in sports, plus a few freelancers and it sucked. It was a bit of a unique situation -- my first job out of college and the sports editor didn't know Quark, so I had to do the layout every day. Ideally, even in a two-man staff, you'd alternate the layout duties so that both people wouldn't have to work a split shift every day. There is no easy schedule in this business, but that split-shift really takes something out of you. I did it for a year and promised myself I'd never do it again.
  7. txsportsscribe

    txsportsscribe Active Member

    i'm at a small afternoon daily. when i was still the sports guy, i often had the option of filing stories from home so the split shift didn't really bother me. but i often went into the office in the morning anyway. i'd get there usually 8:30-ish and be gone by noon at the latest, whether i had a game to cover that evening or not. didn't worry about what angle the story would take because we're 95 percent preps and the 800-pound metro gorilla down the road never did more than boxscores on the local teams except for friday night football and even then the story was usually no more than 2-3 grafs. only night i had to worry about quick turnaround on stories was friday night and even then the deadline would be about 8 a.m. so the only reason to write the story immediately after the game, besides still be fresh, was to avoid waking up early on saturday morning. and as far the thought someone threw out about money being an issue because a p.m. paper would be struggling, i started at about 25k a year and was making 32k four years later when i moved up to managing editor.

    and why in the world would a hiring editor judge an applicant to be lesser quality simply because the person previously wrote for a p.m. paper? good daily writing is good daily writing.
  8. Stupid

    Stupid Member

    I'm at 17K p.m. daily now and the split sked can be tough at times. I'm in between 6:30-7 a.m. Deadline is 10:30 a.m. Usually out the door by 11:30 a.m. The news staff works 8-5 but the sports guys can leave because we're working at night. Sometimes, but rarely, do I write in the morning. I usually go home after the game and file from there. The guys who don't have a PC at home go back to the office and file after games. We have a 4-man staff and if all 4 of us are there in the morning, it's not a problem for 1 or 2 of us to write on morning deadline. I just work better at night so I write then.

    The really tough part of our week is Friday. We put out an a.m. paper on Saturday (no Sunday paper) and so our deadline is 1 a.m. That means that we start our workday at 6:30 a.m. on Friday, leave at 11:30, return around 6-7 p.m. (whenever the game starts), then work until 1:30 or 2 a.m. (summer deadline is midnight).
  9. insideman

    insideman Member

    I have some knowledge of The Patriot Ledger near Boston. It's a medium-sized PM daily (55,000, AM on Saturday). What they do is write "game colums," which keeps them away from the drudgery of play-by-play crap that nobody's goiing to read 24 hours after a game. They pick a topic and write a game-related column. It's pretty readable compared to dry AM stuff. And they have all night to write the stuff. That's not to say they don't work their asses off or that they ignore relevant day-to-day minutiae. They also write daily game-related notebooks just like the AM guys, where they cover the nuts and bolts. But the columns are a refreshing and creative outlet for the writers. The Ledger writers are for the most part dedciated to their beats and don't do much, if any, desk work. That's not the case at smaller papers, of course.
    I was thinking the other day about TV sports, where they show game highlights more than 24 hours after the fact. What incredible laziness and lack of enterprise. If a PM writer ever wrote like that, he'd be fired.
  10. joe

    joe Active Member

    The biggest benefit is you get to have a normal life with normal hours -- except for sports reporting, of course. If you're on the desk, it's perfect.
  11. crimsonace

    crimsonace Well-Known Member

    For a desker, it's a great life (Mrs. Crimson, who works at the same PM daily as me, is home at 4 p.m. every day).

    For a sports guy, it's a great life in the summer (when there's nothing going on) and you can work normal hours. It's difficult when you have a newsroom culture where everyone is expected to chip in during the deadline cycle.

    I try to keep my staff's sanity by having people work three nights a week, but usually no more. They can file their stuff in the AM.

    Writing-wise, the best part about being a PM is that you have extra time to work on angles and finding more unique ways to tell a story. Most of the AMs in our area have firm 10:30 or 11 p.m. copy deadlines, which barely affords enough time postgame to get quotes and fit them into a running gamer. We usually have the luxury to develop a storyline and write the "game feature," which has really develloped my skill in event coverage. Developing that style will really help you at an AM, because your mind is almost forcibly trained to think and look for featury/analysis angles from games.

    We have the luxury of being able to staff the local NFL and NBA team's home games, as well as the stuff at a really big racetrack in the major metro. Because I know the Major Metro Daily has that covered like a blanket and hits the streets 8 hours before we do, I have to work extra hard to give my readers something different.

    Working at a PM has really helped my writing skill, but you still get to build some good deadline reporting skills.

    The split shifts, though, royally suck. There are times -- especially during heavy preps weeks -- where you feel like you work around the clock.
  12. Stupid

    Stupid Member

    Before I started this job, I hadn't taken an afternoon nap since I was 5. Now I do it several times a week by necessity. I usually just pass out in the recliner.
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