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Job(s) Scenario: What Would You Do?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by EagleMorph, Dec 9, 2009.

  1. EagleMorph

    EagleMorph Member

    I want to throw a hypothetical job situation out there for discussion and, perhaps, some advice.

    Say you're a year or two out of college with a journalism background in the current economic environment. You're freelancing heavily for a newspaper or two in a relatively large metropolitan area, covering everything from preps to high level colleges to professional sports.

    You love it. It's what you want, you like the region, you like the freelance work and the people you work with. But it's not full time. Money is still tight, no benefits.

    Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, a full time job opens up in this industry and you're eying it up. You do some research on the paper and you like what you see. Good section, pleasant enough area, some quality writing and design. But the paper and the coverage area is nothing like your current one; all preps and small colleges (D-3, NAIA, JuCo).

    Do you pursue the job opening, saying you need the money and the benefits of being full time even in a smaller market? Or do you stick with the sexier bylines, even though you're essentially forced to work other part-time jobs to make ends meet, hoping that something more in line of what you want comes along?

    What would you do?
  2. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    At least apply. How can you tell about anything if you don't at least talk to them? It can't hurt to look.
  3. Fredrick

    Fredrick Well-Known Member

    I agree you should apply, but in this day and age you might be better off freelancing for fun and satisfaction and getting some other part time job to help pay the bills.
    I think the parttimers will be the wave of the future. This will become a no benefits paying gig for the most part once we all go online only.
  4. TrooperBari

    TrooperBari Active Member

    Go after the opening — don't ask, don't get. And if the hypothetical benefits include health insurance, that is not to be sniffed at.
  5. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    "Sexier bylines" don't always last in freelancing, and I'd argue that in a newspaper, even the big metro, they're not necessarily as sexy as you might think. Go for the full-time gig, or at least apply. Then, in your free time, come up with some kickass ideas to pitch to magazines. Those are sexy bylines to show future employers, along with the fact you held down a full-time job.
  6. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    Sexy bylines don't always pay the light bill.

    Apply for the job, talk with them if you're fortunate enough to get that chance and seriously consider taking it. If nothing else the experience will be good, positive or negative, for your future path.
  7. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Honestly? I think I'd pass if those were my exact priorities and desires.

    I doubt the freelance work will dry up, it's cheap labor that newspapers love these days.

    And you don't need much experience to grab a bigger job these days, just the luck to be the one application out of 100 that catches some editor's eye and a willingness to live in a metro area for rural poverty wages.

    If your absolute goal is to cover bigger sports, then I think the freelancing does you just as much good as the small-town job.
  8. Riddick

    Riddick Active Member

    Freelance work is fine, until you get injured.
    I was in a similar situation, and took a full-time job at a bi-weekly. It certainly wasn't my first choice, but figured I needed to work full-time.
    Four months into the job, I injured my knee.
    I was never so glad, or felt so lucky, with having a full-time job. Benefits are easy to look past, until you don't have them. Because if you get injured without them, it really can ruin your financial life.
  9. jfs1000

    jfs1000 Member

    A job is a job. We work for money. But, as far as a career, this comes from experience, you have to find a way to standout. I know great writers who do great work, but never moved on because they didn't have the opportunity to cover major college, pro etc.

    You have to make sure if you go to that area that you can do some kick ass work. If you have aspirations to cover major sports, you have to be a market that has those sports, and get into an outlet that will allow you to cover them. A prep beat a suburban daily that covers only home games of metro pro team is a perfect opportunity. Even if you start on prep desk there, there is opportunity.
  10. PopeDirkBenedict

    PopeDirkBenedict Active Member

    If an entry level gig opens up at the paper you are freelancing for, will you have a legit shot at getting it? Freelancing for a big paper is great, but if the people who do the hiring will only see you as a freelancer and not give you a shot at a regular gig, it seems like you are spinning your wheels.
  11. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    It depends on what you need in life? Do you need the golden handcuffs? I did.
  12. Mystery Meat II

    Mystery Meat II Well-Known Member

    I get some semi-regular work for a respectable newspaper in town. I not that long ago covered a fairly significant event for them. The dramatic newroom cuts are leaving some surprisingly low-hanging fruit available for the stringers. I do a good job for them, I think. I'd like to think that most days I have a byline, it's not the worst story of the section, or at least it's not definitively the worst.

    But I also know it'll never get me a full-time job there. Ever.

    I work a part-time job at another paper. I'd like to think I do good work answering phones and composing roundups and proofing pages and the like. I've made a couple decent catches of factual errors in stories.

    But I also know it'll never get me a full-time job there. Ever.

    There's no hard and fast rule, but based on personal and observed experience, there's a wall that separates the part-time/freelance writers from the full-timers. While your bylines look the same, when the hour of reckoning is at hand, they're probably not looking you way for a job, unless it's an unusual circumstance.

    So unless you're willing to be a journo as a paid hobby/second job, you should definitely give this other job consideration. If you want this to be your career, you have to be full-time SOMEWHERE. Unless you can hustle enough freelance work to make FT coin that way. But that's a lot easier said than done.
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