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Pursue the desk job? Or gamble with freelance gigs covering things you enjoy?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by BobSacamano, Apr 20, 2010.

  1. BobSacamano

    BobSacamano Member

    My conundrum is not unique. You've seen this snowflake before, and probably were one yourself. Therefore, it is you who I look to in my request for opinions, guidance, and thoughts.

    Simply put, I'm a fairly young guy who's getting his feet really wet in sports journalism. I'm going from being invited to a few events a month for interview opps with notable pros to being a fully credentialed writer covering a major sports team.

    Now, there's an opportunity here to pursue a desk job for one of the larger local papers as an editor/writer in something that's not sports. The M.E. knows who I am and I have a co-sign from inside the walls, so I'm (arrogantly) thinking that it's only a matter of interviewing to land some job security in a field where nothing is promised anymore.

    And then there's this inconsistent freelance thing that doesn't pay as much, or as frequently, but will be significantly more satisfying. It's also more enticing because it means I won't be chained to a desk; and that I'll be doing the kind of reporting that initially lured me into this business.

    The way I see it, there will be no more time to pursue these interview opps I do now. I can't reasonably accept an invite to meet the new pitcher in town when I have to, I don't know, report on politics.

    Now, I'm not concerned about the content I'd be producing at the desk. Except, the current bane of my existence is this office job I'm posting from while moonlighting as a freelancer. How long until I hate the desk again -- even if I am in a creative, news-making environment? I want to daylight as a writer.

    Do I already know the answer to my question? Or would I be immensely irresponsible in not traveling down the secure route?

    Any help is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. bwright

    bwright Member

    Tough question, and one I can't answer. I can only wish you luck.

    I've never worked a desk job. What kind of hours would in require?
     
  3. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Not sure what you mean by a desk job as an editor/writer. Also what hours will you be working to allow you do do the kind of reporting that initially lured you to this business?

    To be honest, you sound a bit overly optimistic.

    1. It's a tough job market out there. Really tough. Just because you have an in doesn't mean you'll get a job offer.

    2. If you can land a job that pays decent and you are living off stringing/blogging whatever it is you are doing, I don't see how you could turn down a possible full-time job.

    Best wishes.
     
  4. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    Re: Pursue the desk job? Or gamble with freelance gigs covering things you enjoy

    There's everything to be said for the relative safety of a full-time, benefits-offered, taxes-withheld job in this economy. I say "relative" because there's nothing "safe" about a newspaper job anymore.

    Happiness with your job is an important thing ... it's 1B on my employment checklist. 1A is a steady paycheck. Admittedly, that's just my personal opinion. I'm no economist, but it strikes me as the smart thing to have your bank account as padded as possible if/when the bottom falls out.

    If you have the time (and clients who don't compete against your prospective employer), you certainly can continue to freelance during your down time if you're a desker. You're freelancing now at your office job, right?

    Just one point of view. Good luck.
     
  5. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    Considering the state of the business today, pursue the desk job. You can always work as a stringer.
     
  6. Boy, that would be a tough decision. If you do get offered the desk job, I would take it because it's steady, full-time work in your field. That being said, I would still try to do whatever I could to still keep your freelancing job because it's sounds like a great opportunity and something you really enjoy. Who knows? Maybe it will lead to a full-time beat reporting position and you won't have to be chained to the desk anymore :)
    Believe me, I know how hard it is to land full-time work in this field right now, so I would take the desk position. Good luck!
     
  7. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Freelancing in this climate will not lead to a full-time beat reporting position, only to more freelancing. Maybe...hopefully.

    Unless you are sure you will always love freelancing -- and all the attendant insecurity, all the inconsistency, the very real reality of being at the mercy of others (even more so than you are in a regular-full-time gig) for consistent assignments, the need for spending your life always doing nothing but worrying about what's the next thing, the lack of benefits, and the unlikelihood of it ever leading to anything except for more of the same -- take any regular full-time desk job at a larger paper that is offered to you.

    Also, you ask how long it would be before you'd hate the desk.

    How do you know you'll hate it? How do you know you'll feel "chained" instead of maybe comfortable and focused, and in line for other potential opportunities in connection with Web editing/production and multi-media moves?

    I would contend that you, very possibly, feel "chained" right now because you are -- by the situation. I'd venture a guess that you don't like your current desk gig largely because you are dependent on it, because your freelance stuff can't be relied upon and doesn't provide enough income.

    A regular, full-time job on the desk would do that, by itself. There's a lot to be said for that, and that fact probably would change your experience and perspective of the job immensely.

    Keep that in mind.
     
  8. exposbabe

    exposbabe New Member

    I'm curious as to what this means:

    "accept an invite to meet the new pitcher in town"

    ???
     
  9. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    And if you insist on using "invite" as a noun instead of "invitation," you shouldn't be hired by any reputable newspaper.
     
  10. BobSacamano

    BobSacamano Member

    Slam! Applause for catching that. My sincerest apologies.

    Nonetheless, I appreciate all the help and guidance. I keep weighing my options, and the scale tips against my more reckless instincts. It's knowing that I'd be sacrificing the freedom of 'excepting an invite' (gasp!) for a one-on-one, or to cover an afternoon ballgame, that applies the most pressure to my throat.

    WriteThinking:

    I can't thank you enough for being the voice of reason I've never had.
     
  11. I would urge strongly that you interview for and pursue the editor/writer job. Once you're on the staff full-time, you can look around apply for other openings at the paper. As rapid as turnover occurs these days, having somebody with the versatility to work in another job is a plus. And it's easier to get hired if you're already there than if you're on the outside looking in.
     
  12. I took an entry-level desk job at a large paper as my first full-time job.
    Albeit it was in the era before the massive cutbacks of late, but the effort I put into that created myriad opportunities that have provided the job satisfaction you are looking for.
    Go for the full-time gig. If you don't like it, you can always return to freelancing.
     
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