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Sports Copy Desk Chief, Philadelphia Inquirer.

Discussion in 'Journalism Jobs' started by wickedwritah, Dec 27, 2007.

  1. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    From the ACES listserv:

    We're looking for a Sports copy desk chief who knows the
    subjunctive mode and the sequence of tenses as well as who won the
    Conn Smythe Trophy three times. Who can tweak a caption to make it
    not only concise and effective but on target to the rabid fan of that
    sport. Who comes to work on NFL Sundays with three or four label
    heads already in mind for a win or a loss, but knows that high
    schools are as important to our future as the pros. Who can make
    deadline on a multi-edition, multi-zone newspaper working in close
    cooperation with assigning editors, designers and photo editors. And
    who can be a positive day-to-day leader of an experienced and hard-
    working staff that never seems big enough.
    We're one of America's top 20 newspapers, in the heart of the
    Northeast, with enough prizes to line a hallway. We anticipate that
    the successful candidate will have at least at least five years of
    experience as a copy editor and at least two years of experience as a
    Sports slot editor at a mid-size to large daily, and while knowing
    Sports backward and forward will have experience editing local and
    wire news copy as well.
    If this sounds like you, send a cover letter and a resume
    with references to dsullivan@phillynews.com. We also want to see
    three sections (not special sections) you have slotted in the last
    month; send them by mail to David Sullivan, Assistant Managing
    Editor / Copy Desks, The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101,
    so as not to crash the e-mail server with attachments. A test and a
    one-week paid tryout will be required of finalists. Both parts of the
    application must be received by Jan. 18, 2008.
  2. steveu

    steveu Well-Known Member

    Wow. This should get a TON of applicants. I know the Inky's had its problems, but it's still a solid paper. Good luck to whoever tries out.
  3. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Dunno. Maybe they haven't updated the staff contacts list or something, but I see a deputy copy chief and two (2) copy editors listed under "sports copy desk," plus a night deputy and night assistant.


    If true, that's kind of like being a QB with a thinned-out offensive line. It's going to be very hard to look good to those higher-ups who really don't understand the nature and pace of sports desks. All they know is that your shit is sloppier than the features section's. And you can't really 'splain it to them.

    And while it's true that there are lots of sports desks in smaller cities with that kind of staffing, the expectations are different (oh yes they are). Had a gig slotting copy once where there were usually two rimmers per night on a 300K with lots of space. At some point I had to ask myself if I had spent all those years learning how to do it the right way so I could now cut all kinds of corners just to get the paper out. No matter how good you may be, a good-size section is a collaborative effort, you need your teammates as much as they need you. And even if your bosses don't notice all the stuff that got past you, you'll notice. Unless you stop reading the paper the next day.
  4. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    Based on this:

    "...We anticipate that the successful candidate will have at least at least five years of
    experience as a copy editor and..."

    I would say they're in a big hurry to hire!

    Or maybe that means I'm hired!
  5. Editude

    Editude Active Member

    I can speak from related experience that this would be a challenging gig ultimately determined by how solid the crew was. You can do all you can individually and teach/inspire to some degree, but copy editors at a paper this size would have built-in good-bad-in between approaches that would be tough to turn around. Bring your Red Bull and Starbucks.
  6. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Kenn Finkel says a good sports desk is populated by a variety of types. Basic problems involving skills, attitude and communication with writers can be worked out pretty easily if you don't go in like a missionary trying to save heathens from damnation. As far as "approach," I believe there ought to not only be tolerance for a variety of approaches, but encouragement for them. Sports desks suffer when there is an attempt at achieving groupthink. You can't change a bulldog into a poodle, and you can't get the best out of a bulldog if you're always giving off the vibe that I know you'll always be a bulldog, but I really wish you were a poodle.

    The problem the newspaper industry has now is a fear-based culture desperate for a magic "solution" that usually involves imposing a system and forcing people into it, rather than evaluating a group of people and designing a system around their attitudes and their skills. As I once tried to explain to a (bad) boss, these are race horses, not show horses. Now note I am not saying they are plow horses or glue-factory horses, either. They are fancy horses in their own right, they just don't dance and leap for people's amusement, it's not what they do and it's not what they believe in, and it's not the most efficient and effective use for them.

    A good leader needs to focus not on changing a dissenter's overall approach, but in bringing out the best of that different mind-set. A good leader needs to be secure enough to let people disagree with him and sometimes to see where they are right. It makes for a more difficult, yet more creative, collaboration than when you have six people saying the same thing.
  7. Chi City 81

    Chi City 81 Guest

    Those posts make me wish Frank would post more often.
  8. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    Yeah, he pretty much nailed it.
  9. Basil Exposition

    Basil Exposition New Member

    Just wondering: Isn't it time to bury the one-week tryout for copy editors?

    It jacks with the applicant -- making her choose whether to disclose prematurely that she's looking around, or to lie to the boss (not to mention taking the one-week of vacation) -- and it's not usually that helpful to the hiring paper. One week is barely time to digest the editing system, much less get familiar enough with reporters and editors to start improving copy.
  10. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I agree. I think if you can't tell enough from test, clips, critique, interviews and recommendations, you need a better test and better interviewers. I also think that the person you hire will be more effective if he or she uses vacation time to refresh rather than to learn a computer system and edit copy. But then I think it's also absurd to give any journalist less than three weeks of vacation time per year once you hire them.
  11. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    This is interesting thing. Let's say for example I was interested. I've been a line editor for a long time, and we'll just leave it at that I'm considered decent at it.

    Well, I've been online for 10 years. I couldn't show them three sections I've slotted unless I could find some from 1997. You think they'd accommodate somebody like that?
  12. PHINJ

    PHINJ Active Member

    I think tryouts for a senior position like this are pretty absurd.

    I was under the impression that the copy desk no longer falls under control of the sports department. Could someone clarify the situation here?
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