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Plain Dealer lawsuit

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by martygit, Dec 10, 2006.

  1. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    I share your feelings, Marty.
    I will never forget the feeling I had when the SE of a large midwest daily called one early morning and woke me out of a sound sleep to tell me that I was "one of the top two-three candidates for the position, but we've opted for minority hiring." (Psst, if that's where you were going to go in the first place, then why did you bother considering me at all.) Actually told me that the color of my skin was the reason I wasn't hired.
    The way he said it angered me so, that if I had recorded the conversation, I would have had a retirement check and he would have been out on his ass.
    16-plus years later, I can still hear his voice telling me that. 16-plus years later, he's still at that paper, albeit higher up the management food chain.
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I am not doubting you slappy, but I find it hard to believe that a manager would be dumb enough to tell that to a job candidate -- especially if it was true.
  3. martygit

    martygit Member

    Actually, Ace, I was told that myself by a major midwest daily sports editor...maybe the same one! He said they needed to hire a woman...and they did.
  4. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Believe me, I was floored too... two things always stand out from that conversation.
    One was that he started to say two, almost finished the word, then quickly said three.
    The second was, and I will never ever forget it, was "we've opted for minority hiring." I remember getting off the phone and thinking "You had a tape recorder built into the phone. You should have taped it." Who knew.

    But since I didn't, I would have had no way of proving it because common sense tells you no manager would be dumb enough to say it.
    But it is true. It is as true as the air outside and the ground beneath my feet.
  5. loveyabye

    loveyabye Guest

    This thread was linked on Romenesko today.
  6. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Well they deserve to be sued for stupidity, if nothing else.
  7. ballscribe

    ballscribe Active Member

    It's a complicated issue, one that I can only approach from my personal journey (as a woman).

    When I went into journalism school around 1990, I was the only person in my class who actually wanted to be a sportswriter - male or female, although I have to say the class was predominantly female to a scary extent.

    I was going back for a second degree, so I was older than the rest of the gang. What I mostly got when people found out why I was there was something along the lines of, "Don't you want to do something IMPORTANT? i.e. became a foreign correspondent or save the world or whatever. That's the idealistic 19-year-olds talking. My take was, 'No, I'd actually like to follow what I'm passionate about, and I'd also like to be employed."

    I can't name, even now, more than a half-dozen people out of that graduating class who have decent jobs in the business. Not a lot of hiring up here, mostly because we do very little preps and therefore have few entry-level positions available. I got hired pretty much right away.

    Now, my first job came out of well-paying summer internship at a good-sized paper. There were 5-6 interns that summer; all were female. I was the only one who expressed an interest in sports, so I got July and August in the toy department, when everyone was on vacation, and therefore got plenty of assignments and experience. I was the only one hired to stay on after the summer.

    As far as hiring women goes, my understanding at that time, around 1992, was that I had sort of missed the big movement five years previously where every big paper felt it "had" to have a woman on staff; thus, there was quite a bit of hiring then.

    The problem with that is that there just aren't that many women who have enough basic knowledge and passion for this job to go around; therefore, many bad hires were made in the name of "diversity". Most of them didn't last long; what did last longer was the stench of all those bad hires. It scared a lot of people away from it for a long time, and the easy excuse they could use was "we tried it; she sucked = all women sportswriters will suck".

    Fast forward a little. There still aren't many of us around. And I'm of the firm belief that the vast majority of us who do get good jobs actually have to be a whole lot better than the average white joe, precisely because of that previous history.

    I'll tell you this, though; if we're good, it would behoove you to give us good gigs. Because we're not going to last long.
  8. ballscribe

    ballscribe Active Member

    I'm scratching my brain to think of more than a handful of female sportswriters in the country on the dark side of 50. It's one thing for a 50-something white male to keep plying his trade. There are thousands of them around, and they can still relate on a guy-to-guy basis with most of the subjects they cover.

    We don't have that luxury. No chance in hell I'm hanging around long enough for some athlete to call me "Grandma."

    I consider that I'm in the prime of my career right now. Enough experience to know what I'm doing, but still young enough to relate. But unless I pack up and move to one of the newspapers that have expressed interest (and I can't, because my husband's business is here and I've already moved on him twice), I'm SOL.

    Doesn't matter that I'm good; there are 4-5 white males ahead of me in the pecking order. And none of them are retiring any time soon. While I don't begrudge them anything, I'll be out before they are - well before I'm 50.

    It won't be my loss, and I'll have had a good run.

    When I was hired here eight years ago, there were several reasons weighing into it - and only one of them was my gender.

    That was clearly one; there were no women on staff and had only been a couple of brief, unsuccessful attempts to add one in the 15 years preceding. But there were several other factors.

    -They needed to get a little younger; just about everyone was pushing 50 (there hadn't been a hire in almost 15 years, and the one guy they did hire was the one who left and whom I was replacing).
    -They desperately needed someone bilingual, because no one else on staff (which includes a couple of Americans) could properly interview a French-speaking athlete.
    -I was a local who was willing to move back from the U.S. to work here.
    -Nobody else in the entire newsroom, I'm sure, wanted the MLB beat job because it's a bear of a job and there wasn't really a backup. I have no doubt they would have hired from within to avoid adding a salary if they could have.

    I think it's a misconception to assume that an editor will bend over backwards to hire a woman. Hiring one who isn't good at what she does is a lot more trouble than it's worth. So I have to presume that if a women is hired over a similarly-qualified white male, it's because she can do the job, or has the potential to do so. And, because of her gender (and the same applies to a racial minority), he/she simply brings more assets to the table in terms of that different voice, different viewpoint. So that can tip the balance in their favour. And, quite frankly, it should. Just like, for example, if you had two candidates and one of them played a Division I varsity sport, and the other didn't. That would give Candidate A a perspective Candidate B wouldn't have, all other factors being essentially equal.

    Don't forget that it ultimately falls into the editor's lap if he makes a bad hire. It will ultimately reflect poorly or well on him.
    In the case of a female, that hiring is going to be watched a lot more closely. The pressure is on to make the right call. The editor is rarely going to just hire a woman for the sake of "having one on staff." There is too much at stake.

    I understand how tight the market is these days. And if people want to fool themselves into thinking that's the only reason they didn't get hired, I guess that's all right. But that assumes that all the people doing the hiring are fools, too. And they can't all be fools.

    After all, they did have the good taste to hire many of us. :)
  9. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    Marty, what did you think of Tom Feren's line back in June?

  10. martygit

    martygit Member

    Sorry, what was Tom Feren's line? Maybe I'm doing something wrong because I didn't see it when I called up that link.
  11. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    As I have said before, at a previous Gannett stop, I was told by the ME that an open position in sports HAD to be filled by the best-qualified female candidate and that we were not to consider any male applicants for the job.
    We hired the best female for the gig, on some things (basketball) she was very, very good, on other things (football) she wasn't. But that wasn't much different than a male writer who was hired a few months later.
    Different people have different strengths, and that is to be expected.
    I liked Alma's post earlier on how preps coverage is considered the outhouse. I think some of that is due to the shuttering of bureaus around the country. At the big papers, you used to have these things called "bureaus" it seems almost like a foreign concept now, but papers used to have offices outside of the main building in the suburbs and when a new person was hired, they did bureau work and if they were good, they go moved up. Almost like the minor-leagues. The other thing metros used to do is comb the talent pool of the smaller papers in the coverage area and hire them away. Again, almost like the minors, but that is a trend that is going away. I actually heard a board favorite, who is an SE at a major metro, say that they tried to stay away from those people, they did bring experience and local knowledge, but they also brought local baggage. Plus, when you work in a big chain, that cuts down the ability to hire locals.
  12. martygit

    martygit Member

    Never mind, I saw it. Actually, I wouldn't think anyone who read that on June 23, 2006, would have any idea what he was referring to.

    Drew Carey? He's funny, but give me Barney Fife any day. That's one thing Welcometotherock and I can agree on.
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