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!

Leaving the business fully or not

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Leaver?, Dec 21, 2011.

  1. Leaver?

    Leaver? New Member

    A long time admirer of this website/message board, very informative and many of the sentiments expressed I can identify with.
    I'm out of the biz on a full time basis two years now, and I miss aspects of it. I don't miss the treatment from some higher uppers and the sort of things people have to put up with, as did I.
    Anyway, my question to those of you who left the biz is did you guys go for a clean break (voluntary or not), or did you gradually get out of the newspaper business.
    Reason I ask is that after getting out of the biz in less than ideal circumstances, I initially figured I'd get back in, I didn't and am retraining in a totally different field, using none of the skills/qualifications I got from sports writing.
    I found on leaving the biz full-time there were no real opportunities for me on a full-time basis, my skills didn't seem to matter in the jobs market so I made a radical change into a health related field. I'm quite some distance from qualifying, and while I like the course, I ain't anywhere near as passionate as I was when I got up in the morning to work in newspaper, (ok, well, let's just say when papers treated their staff well!).
    A friend (not working in the biz) said to me 'you need to believe in yourself', stick with the biz, blah, blah. Others have said the same, you have talent. Having explained that there's heaps of guys way more talented than me out of jobs, they kind of accepted I was no longer their friend with the 'cool job' as they saw it.
    To those of you who left and retrained/worked in something else, once gone from the newspaper biz, did you have opportunities or tried to get back in?
    I know the above makes no sense in light of the fact that I know things are awful for many people in the biz, but I'm finding it strange doing something that I am nowhere near as passionate about.
    At the minute I'm stringing, and not fully out of the biz, and it's probably taking from my efforts to get into something totally different, a little, and I'm finding it real hard to cut the chord..
    So to those of you who left, are you better to make a slow transition or just cut the ties completely with the industry? I'm half way out of the biz, but still hoping 'that' job will come up. I could also be an astronaut, I suppose, if I got real lucky..
    On the plus side, I will say since leaving the biz my health/relationship with significant other and many other aspects in my life have improved, but I still get a hankering/wonder will I regret in 30 years time not giving the biz longer!
    I spent over a year doing so after I finished up in my last full-time role, and at that point I said enough was enough.
    Interested to hear if anyone else has gone through something similar.
  2. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    Whatever you ultimately decide to do, you'll miss the business because, let's face it, it sure beats working. That said, we all have to graduate from high school eventually. There will come a point when you realize it's time to get a job with better pay, better security, better respect, better hours, better equipment, better perks, etc.

    I left the business voluntarily ... twice. The first time was for myriad reasons -- including all of what I mentioned above. I went into corporate communications. I wasn't entirely sure PR was what I wanted to do, though, so, when an opportunity to become executive sports editor at a paper in my market opened up, I took the offer. Within two months, I remembered all of the reasons why I left the business in the first place. Within 10 months, I left and never looked back. I'm doing strategic media on a corporate level and cannot imagine doing the newspaper game again. Especially in this business climate.

    Good luck.
  3. Floyd R. Turbo

    Floyd R. Turbo New Member

    Reading your post made me feel like someone else was writing what I've been feeling. I was let go a year ago after 22 years. I've applied for every type of writing job imaginable and came up empty every time. They keep hiring 25-year-olds with supposedly "more experience." The truth is all companies are going for the low-cost option. They don't care about professionals anymore, just someone who will do it cheap. And there are so many out there who will write for nothing, and web sites and newspapers who will run their stuff. Readers aren't demanding quality writing either. I'm definitely not going to find another job in the newspaper biz. What I've really found is that most employers who want someone to do any writing, also want publishing skills, like knowledge of Indesign, Photoshop, any software related to publishing and printing. I also have struggled to get this training because I get occupied doing low-paying stringer jobs. I think I'd be better just turning down that stringer work and devoting my time to new training. I've decided I need those skills. There are few, if any, jobs for writers right now, and I don't see that changing. Very discouraging. I've also checked out many jobs unrelated to writing, but again it's a "buyers market" for employers. I've even tried to drum up business being a self-employed publicist and writer, and there's not much there either. I'd welcome a total career change in a totally new field, and I'm just hoping someone gives me the chance. Journalism is in a sad and spiraling downward state. I miss it, but I'm ready to spend the rest of my working years doing something that's appreciated. So, like you, I'm contemplating making a clean break and turning my back on writing.
  4. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Unless you can catch up, and keep up, with the technology, you will, eventually, be out of the business, even in spite of your passion.

    The technology trumps the journalism these days. It used to be that you couldn't get a journalism job without reporting skills. Now, you can't get one without being well-versed and up-top-date on an assortment of publishing programs, videography, the blog writing and maintenance or without being a social-media wiz and enthusiast. But you can get one without ever having been a reporter. Most of the young guys on desks, as well as the Web producers/editors these days are not and never have been reporters. They are graphics-media guys.

    When I lost my last full-time job -- at the only place I ever truly aspired to work -- I kept applying for journalism jobs for three years afterward, because I knew I was well-qualified, and I felt that way. I applied many times, had several serious interviews, and a couple of close calls/possibilities, but...no dice.

    Now, as time continues to pass, I feel less and less qualified, because time and the speed of technology are not on my side. I can't help but feel this way, and you won't be able to, either, if you don't get back in on a full-time basis sometime soon.

    It is possible to be, or to become, passionate about something other than newspapers, and, after being hurt by them, I found that I prefered not to do journalism at all over trying to hang on (as I perceived it), or feeling like a second-class citizen because I was only a freelancer instead of the full-time staff member I wanted to and believed I could and should have been.

    So, now I'm out of the business. Oh, I still think about newspapers, all the time. I even actually still look for jobs in the business, and have occasionally continued to apply for things that are of interest to me. But let's just say that I'm far more choosy now.

    I'm now in retail, and, frankly, I like it a lot -- much more than I ever thought I would, and I've excelled in sales, again to a surprising extent, and I'm beginning to see the possibilities in this field.

    After a fashion, I am also just as passionate about my current work as I ever was when I was in newspapers. I still want to, and do, work hard. I still strive to excel, I still have ambition, I like working again, and I have an trained toward the future, plus the desire, and, hopefully, the ability, to do the things it may take to gain upward mobility in this new endeavor.

    Perhaps you just haven't found your new niche yet.

    That doesn't necessarily mean you won't, though, and that there's nothing out there that you could like and be passionate about besides journalism.
  5. crimsonace

    crimsonace Well-Known Member

    I had a pretty clean break from newspapers -- matter of fact, I was very bitter for a long time about the way things ended at my previous shop (I left voluntarily and on good terms, but an ethically-challenged publisher screwed me out of a promised raise and, to be honest, I was pretty burned out on writing).

    I didn't write -- nor did I want to write -- for several months. I did some freelancing for another SportsJournalists.com member and eased back in.

    However, when I got out of the print world, I jumped right into broadcasting, and have been doing that for six years. After I got past my initial burnout, I have done a little bit of freelancing and have enjoyed it, have worked as a stats person/off-ice official for the local hockey team, and the last couple of years, began teaching journalism at the high school where I now work.

    So, the media bug never really leaves you. I'm still very passionate about the craft, but not so much about the business side of it.

    Amazingly, I was probably ahead of the curve -- my degree was in broadcast journalism and I've always been inclined to the computer/technology/broadcast/online side of things. When I bailed out was right when "convergence" was starting to hit smaller newspapers -- where I worked. I probably would have been a perfect fit, but I have no plans on going back. Freelancing keeps the itch scratched while allowing me to make money -- I make about 40% more as a teacher than I ever did as an SE.
  6. Floyd R. Turbo

    Floyd R. Turbo New Member

    A lot of good stuff here, and encouraging to read that I'm not alone. But I do have one question: Why are they still teaching journalism in high school or college? No one in their right mind would go into that career, because it's not really a vocation anymore. Too many people will to write and publish it for free or dirt cheap.
  7. podunk press

    podunk press Active Member

    Learning new skills isn't heard. I picked up video editing in a day.
  8. Prospero

    Prospero Member

    I freelanced for a lot of websites after I got laid off three-plus years ago, but I was always on the lookout for something full-time in my town. Finally landed in marketing (Internet marketing, actually), and even though I still miss the press box and most of the people, there's no way I could go back to the old career -- even it was still there. I've gotten too used to going home at 5:15 on weeknights and having what I consider mini-vacations EVERY weekend after two-plus decades of working most Saturdays and Sundays. I actually make a smaller salary than I did at my last newspaper gig, but I'm pretty sure my hourly wage -- the money I make for actual time worked -- is close to double what it was.

    Do I still have a hankering to do all that stuff I used to do? To travel and move in those circles I used to move in? Occasionally. But whenever I get that itch, I think about how and why it ended for me (and thousands of others), and take another sip of wine on my couch as I flip away from the ballgame I might have been at to Storage Wars or some other comfortably inane TV show I never knew existed when I covered sports for a living.
  9. dirtybird

    dirtybird Well-Known Member

    EVERY weekend? What a magical world.
  10. crimsonace

    crimsonace Well-Known Member

    Because what we do is a profession that needs professional training, it's the ONE profession that is protected by the Constitution, and because journalism prepares students for life in so many different fields. Indiana University prof Jack Dvorak has published a study (recently updated) detailing how high school journalism students tend to score significantly higher on standardized tests and get better college grades. We teach not just how to write a lede, nut graf and IP/narrative style, but also how to balance time, how to network, how to write, how to develop sources/contacts -- things that can help in any profession.

    And, even though our industry (e.g., newspapers) is certainly dying, there will always be a need for journalists. Citizens want credible information. That, and *where* people are getting their info from is changing. While newspapers are drying up and shrinking like raisins, TV stations and nets are increasing their offerings and, in sports journalism, teams/leagues are hiring their own people. It's a changing world, but in a way, there is a greater appetite for information now than there ever has been. With that, there will always be a place to get it from credible sources.

    Add to that, about a decade ago, I went to an Indiana J-school alumni event. Of about 40 people in the room, only four were practicing or retired journalists (myself, at the time, included). Tons of lawyers, teachers, PR professionals, et al. Journalism training provides the baseline for a LOT of other fields.

    And, of course, we can still freelance, and believe me, our skills are in demand.
  11. three_bags_full

    three_bags_full Well-Known Member

    My advice, Leaver?, is to go with your gut. If you see the writing on the wall as did I, you'll know when it's time to go.

    Six years ago, the opportuity of a lifetime came along. My wife finished school, got a job about five miles from our little apartment that allowed me to leave the business and pick up a tiny part-time job while I went back to school.

    I saw the writing on the wall that, having not finished my education at the time, I was about topped out on that career path. There wasn't much more for me in the business. Truth be told, I probably wasn't nearly as good as I thought, now that I look back on it. I had been passed over for the head job in my department, and I didn't like it very much.

    So, when this opportunity came about, I hopped one like a porn star on a dildo.

    It was hard leaving, but I knew I was doing the right thing, both for my happiness, my wallet, my wife and our future children. I still covered games on Friday night for a while, but eventually the need to do that passed, too. I still think about it quite a bit.

    My new job is a mixed bag. Half the time, I absolutely hate it with a passion; half the time, I can't get enough of it. But almost all the time, it's extremely rewarding, if that makes any sense. It comes with a unique set of risks, both physical and emotional. It also comes with a few perks, like an entire month of vacation each year and so many holidays I can't count. Almost always home by 6 and by lunch or so on Friday.

    With all that came quite a bit more responsibility, though. On a day-to-day basis, I am totally responsible (in almost every way imagineable) for 22 people and about $15 million in property. Starting Tuesday for the next month, I'll be filling in for my boss' boss and managing the operation of a 400-person, $600 million organization (wow, that just sank in).

    Long story longer, I'm happy I made the move. Pros and cons with the new gig, but more pros, I guess.

    PS: Anyone looking for a stringer in the Nashville area? :D
  12. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    I still do some freelance for a nearby newspaper. It's hard to give up completely.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page