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Punchclock journalism?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by ChrisMaza, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. ChrisMaza

    ChrisMaza Member

    I work for a small company that puts out a series of free community weekly newspapers for communities in and surrounding a medium-sized city. Our revenue is completely advertising driven. Lately there has been a lot of talk from the higher-ups regarding the amount of money the company has been losing and terms such as cutbacks and furloughs have been included in the latest rumors. But to this point, it's been mostly hair brained schemes to implement quick fixes.
    Before I get into the specifics of the latest idea, let me first tell you that this is the first newsroom I've ever worked in where you literally punch a clock. Obviously I've filled out timesheets elsewhere, but this place has a very strong 9-5, M-F punch clock mentality which obviously doesn't jive with journalism.
    We also fill out complex monthly mileage sheets that ask us specifically where we went on each trip and for what purpose, which I'm fine with filling out. However, it doesn't matter how much I actually drive. I'm reimbursed the same amount every week regardless. Example: If you drive $120 worth (at 51 cents a mile), and they have determined that you will get $60 a month, you get $60. But never fear. You can claim that extra $60 on your taxes. Anyway, I'm getting off the subject.
    Because the office closes sometime around 5-6 everyday, if any reporter goes out for a night assignment, they have to fill in their hours on a supplemental out of office timesheet. Well, because he feels the company is losing money, he is requiring that anytime we use the out of office sheet, we detail where exactly we're been and for what purpose.
    Am I overreacting in feeling like we are being made to feel like we are stealing whenever we are not in the office and actually doing our jobs? Anyone else working in a newsroom that has such a punchclock mentality?
  2. Sue

    Sue New Member

    Find a new job. ;D There's lots of them listed on this site.
  3. Rusty Shackleford

    Rusty Shackleford Active Member

    Mileage is $.55 1/2 per mile, FYI.

  4. ChrisMaza

    ChrisMaza Member

    We're lucky we're getting 51 cents per mile.
  5. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    We get 29 cents a mile here, by the way.

    So do you get paid a flat rate per mile or some lump sum at the whim of some bean counter?
  6. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    So, what's wrong with documenting what you are doing for your overtime?

    At least, they're willing to pay you for that time, unlike a number of well-known companies.
  7. FleetFeet

    FleetFeet Member

    So long as it's not a time-consuming system, I'd encourage a method by which an editor and fellow reporters could track each others' time and efforts. I've worked in a handful of newsrooms and every single time there is at least one person not pulling their weight - and they get away with it.

    Part of this is shoddy management, in my opinion, because the higher-ups don't hold anyone accountable. They just let it go. Whether a reporter is writing 1 story a week (for a daily) or five or, in case of the higher-producing reporters, 8-10 or more, there is no evaluation system.

    That said, I hate - absolutely hate - time clocks. Only worked at one paper that made that mandatory.

    But a quick document to say, "hey, I spent 3 hours on this story (including game coverage), or six hours on this feature, including the drive time out to Ancient Egypt to talk with the kid who wrestles bears" ... I see nothing wrong with that. If there is a strong team in place, I see it as a temporary tool.

    If there is a weak team in place, it could become a useful part of an evaluation process and there could be even more job openings listed on this board.
  8. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Nah, they'd just cut the jobs and save the money (i.e., South Bend).

    Documenting reasons for overtime, I'm fine with. And using documentation if you suspect a worker is consistently slacking off is another good reason.

    But if I'm busting my butt every day, and told that I now have to document: "6:00, I edited this story. 6:12, I paginated this page. 6:23, I wrote this headline." That's not only a waste of time, but it's insulting, too.

    Save it for overtime, or to light a spark under a slacker's ass.
  9. ChrisMaza

    ChrisMaza Member

    I'm sorry if I made it sound like we are documenting overtime. This is documentation of regular hours. God help us if we go even an hour over 40.
    It seems like the publisher is trying to catch us cheating so he can dock pay to save money. He's putting a microscope on the newsroom and asking them WHY they are going out of the office because of his money worries instead of looking at his sales team and asking them why they're NOT out of the office trying to secure more clients.
    I literally feel like he's looking at me sideways anytime I walk into the office after a day in the field. It's like he thinks because I wasn't chained to my desk I wasn't working.
  10. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    First, I don't know of any state (someone correct me if I'm wrong) that would allow a company to dock a worker their pay if the worker already worked the hours. It's illegal.

    Second, what is the publisher doing to ask for documentation. Is he just asking, "Hey, what are you working on?" Or is he wanting everything written down. Who you talked to. Where you went, etc.
  11. Seriously, it sounds like you need to find a new job. This publisher doesn't understand journalism, and if you stay it will just drive you crazy.
  12. apeman33

    apeman33 Well-Known Member

    1) I think we're lucky to get 32 cents a mile.

    2) Does your publisher think nothing happens on Saturday or Sunday or after 5 p.m.?

    3) Get. Out. Don't hesitate. I can see this guy just coming in one day and announcing massive layoffs. Why wait for the bomb to drop? Get those resumes typed up.
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