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Looking for a little advice...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Pluggin Away, Oct 10, 2014.

  1. Pluggin Away

    Pluggin Away New Member

    Long-time lurker, long-absent poster...

    In the eight years since I graduated from college, I have had the chance to work at two small dailies, working my way up to the sports editor's chair at each. It has been a rewarding experience, but one that has come at the expense of anything resembling a healthy work-life balance. So, during the past six months or so, I have been looking for opportunities that would either get me closer to friends and family, get me off the night shift or both.

    In the past couple days, I have been offered a position at a twice-weekly that satisfies both those desires. It is a full-time position that involves serving as the editor of the community news section, while also serving as a sports/recreation writer as needed. In any case, it will allow me to get out and write as opposed to being chained to my desk as I have been for most of the past five years, and will greatly reduce the stress that comes with working under constant deadline pressure. And then there's that whole actually-having-a-social-life thing.

    However, the one thing that concerns me is this: if I step away from the world of daily newspapers now, is it an opportunity that I will lose forever, or will I someday be able to come back to working at a daily should I so desire? Obviously, none of us knows what the future of this industry is beyond it not being exactly bright, and dead-tree print journalism might be but a blip on the radar screen once I've accomplished what I hope to accomplish in my life outside of work.

    TL;DR version: is going from a daily to a twice-weekly tantamount to career suicide?
  2. old_tony

    old_tony Well-Known Member

    Sadly, in five years most dailies will be only publishing 2-3 times a week.

    If I had any advice to give it would be to get the heck out of newspapers.
  3. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Tying yourself to the dream of newspapers is silly at this point. What digital opportunities are available at each place?
  4. Pluggin Away

    Pluggin Away New Member

    My current employer avoids anything remotely Internet-related like the plague. The twice-weekly I am looking at has a bit more of a digital presence, i.e. post your gamer to the Web site Friday night, but do a more featurey story for the Tuesday print edition.

    I am by no means married to the idea of staying in newspapers. I know that eventually, print journalism is going to be purely digital. In fact, that is part of why I am making this move, is to get my foot in the door with the journalism community in a place where I actually might want to put down roots (a good friend of mine is the president of the local SPJ chapter, so that can't hurt from a networking standpoint). Then, in a couple years, maybe I can find a job that is still journalism-based, but outside the newspaper realm.
  5. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Given these two options, your choice is clear. I don't understand killing yourself at a small daily for $25,000 a year.
  6. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Do what's best for you right now. You can't worry about the next steps on the ladder, since no one knows what the ladder is anymore.
  7. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Choose the road that leads to fun and happiness away from the office.

    I did it hard from 18 to 40, and it was great, time of my life, kid, but I did it hard at the expense of a normal social life, and because I devoted everything to a cause that didn't give a shit about me one way or the other I made some wrong choices to fill the social void.

    You have to find joy in your work so that you can enjoy everything else. Otherwise, what's the point?
  8. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    First, do what's going to make you happy.
    If you know the area you want to be for the rest of your life and there's a gig, take it. You don't know when another will pop up, especially one with a comparative salary.
    Without knowing your marital status, it's tough for me to tell you what's best. I'm in a position where personally I have everything I need - wife, kids, house, land, giant TV, friends - but career wise there's something missing. Would I give away the things I have to go and chase jobs around the country, moving paper to paper in hopes of finding a spot somewhere? There are days I wish I did and days I'm glad I don't.
    I wouldn't leave the daily, especially if I saw a path from there to another that could keep my career going.
    But if you saw a family in your future in the other place, that's not a bad place either.
  9. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    I'll echo what others have said: Take the new gig, especially if it better suits having a life outside of work.

    Re: going back to daily papers, I left a small daily for a job at a weekly (a Catholic weekly paper, no less) and after a few years returned to the daily newspaper world as a copy editor/paginator, which I still am today. The only real difference is the nightly deadline pressure, and it looks like you've handled that for quite a few years. When I applied for the copy desk gig as I was leaving the weekly, they looked at my pages, then had me work a night on the desk to make sure I could handle deadlines. No problem, so I got the job.

    If there are any daily print papers being produced in five-10 years, I'm sure you could go back.
  10. murphyc

    murphyc Well-Known Member

    My first job out of college was at a small daily. When I was looking for my second job, I turned to my alma mater's VP of student publications. His advice: don't overlook weekly papers. I admit I had done just that, like they were somehow "beneath me" or would ruin my career path. I found a job at a weekly and discovered my true love for journalism. In my career I've been at two small dailies and three weeklies. I prefer the weekly route myself and found covering sports at a small daily the most insane 16 months of my life.
    Of course, YMMV.
  11. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    It would not be career suicide to go from a small daily to a twice-weekly paper, particularly if the latter has other important positive factors in its favor as far as you're concerned.

    These days, with the constant changes going on in the industry, almost nothing could be considered career suicide. Go with what you're looking for right now, especially if you think it could very well make you happier in the long run as well.

    If you ever need/want to step up to a daily again, well, it's not like you've never done it at all before. And you can still build up again from the twice-daily, taking whatever steps you deem necessary along the way.

    The path isn't linear anymore. It has more to do with adaptability, your work/clips and your computer/technical skills. Where and how you got them doesn't matter as much nowadays as it once did. That is why those hired for digital-media jobs, especially at larger papers, oftentimes are not even people with previous journalism backgrounds.
  12. I'll never tell

    I'll never tell Active Member

    I spent a decade at two small shops. My ex-wife woke up the Sunday the day before football practice started, walked out to the living room and told me she wasn't going to be a football widow any longer.

    Our marriage wasn't perfect. I could have done more, and she could have, too. Maybe it was just the last straw, but this business shouldn't have been the straw.

    If you've got a wife and/or kids, do what puts you at home. If not, if you've got chops and are willing to move, I think there will always be chances to get back into the daily grind. And a chance is about all anybody can ever really ask for.
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