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Starting at a weekly vs. a daily

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by BRoth, Mar 18, 2007.

  1. BRoth

    BRoth Member

    I'm making the plunge soon and I'm looking at a lot of options (I'M HIRED!). I was curious about people's work at weeklies/dailies. I've only interned and worked part-time at a couple dailies and I like the pace, but don't know much about the weekly work at ... well .... weeklies.

  2. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    I was at dailies for 10 or so years, and I've been at this weekly coming up on 4 years. I've made it work but I miss daily deadlines.
  3. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    Perhaps too much of a generality, but here goes: If you have the option of starting at a daily, start at a daily. It will only help your career path.
  4. TrooperBari

    TrooperBari Well-Known Member

    You won't have the daily deadline pressure, of course. Depending on the size of the weekly, your plate will likely still be full with a week's worth of sports, shooting photos, paginating and possibly covering non-sports stories.

    When I started out at a 3K weekly, I covered city/village council, school board meetings and cops on top of sports. Definitely challenging, but I think I'm a better writer because of it.
  5. miroba71

    miroba71 New Member

    I was offered a job a weekly right out of college. I'd have covered sports and a town. I didh't end up taking the gig because I wouldn't have made enough to live on and I would have had to relocate. So I decided to stay home, live with the parents and freelance like a madman. It took more than a year, but one of the dailies I freelanced for hired me full-time. Since then I've been a Sports Editor and now I'm on the sports desk at a paper with a circ of over 100K, but every once in a while I regret not taking the job at the weekly. I think I would have learned a lot covering a town. Perhaps I should have sucked it up and worked at a supermarket to make ends meet. They would have only expected me to stay for about a year (at the paper, I mean).

    So what am I saying here? If you have an offer from a daily and an offer from a weekly, take the job at the daily. Your career will take off quicker. But if the only full-time offer you have is from a weekly, take it and do whatever you have to do to make it work. The job at the daily will come soon enough.
  6. dawgpounddiehard

    dawgpounddiehard Active Member

    I've worked at both. I must say, working at a weekly has given me more opportunities to do more things than I ever did at a daily, thus building my portfolio.

    To say working at a daily will help you move up faster I think is false. My experience at a weekly is that there will be times you deal with deadlines and gamers... but in addition to that, you are able to write more profiles, columns and enterprise stories.

    I know for a fact my time at the weekly will help me in this business more so than my time at the dailies. It's made me a much better writer, as well.

    And this in no means is to suck up to my bosses. (Hi, guys. Can I refresh your coffee?)
  7. Taylee

    Taylee Member

    Take the better job.

    Before thinking that all weeklies are the sterotypical 2K-circulation rags in small towns, check out the groups from major metro areas. Chicago, Columbus and Dallas are a few examples.

    For many the decision to work at a weekly comes from seeking a balance in life, especially if you're a copy editor/paginator where the hours are second shift.
  8. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    I did start at that proverbial 2K weekly rag and I found it to be good experience. I was able to concentrate on writing quality, as opposed to banging out hackwork on tight deadline. Plus I had time to learn design (most of which I copied from the major state daily at first, but I did learn the fine art of lines of force, flushing heds, etc.)

    Then I went to a 7K PM daily, and it switched to AM while I was there. I was able to learn to write tighter and my speed got better. When we took the AM plunge I was ready.

    I think in retrospect if I started at an AM daily from the get-go, I might've been in over my head, because I would've spent too much time "making love to my story," as one former SE of mine would say. I think a lot of writers are "daily-ready" right out of the ivory tower, but deadline writing is a whole different critter.
  9. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    I'm a sports editor at a good weekly, and I'm quite happy here, but I agree with some of the other comments. Daily papers like to see daily experience — even though I think to put together a good weekly or semi-weekly product, the workload is every bit as heavy as at some dailies.

    Definitely, I'd consider that, but also consider what you're going to do. You might be better off designing pages, shooting photos, and editing at a smaller shop (of any frequency), than manning a telephone or brewing coffee.

    Find the place that's willing to invest time and energy into helping you improve, and the money you're willing to work for. Good luck.

    As for workload, we have deadlines at weeklies too and you really need time management. You're likely to have a smaller staff and if you don't give yourself rigid deadlines throughout the week, you could be juggling several major projects to the wire. At least at this shop, we're almost always on call too - weekends, nights, you name it. It's not as easy as some suggest.
  10. ZummoSports

    ZummoSports Member

    I was at a weekly for what seemed like four long years after I graduated college. As the sports editor for 3 weeklies, and a one-man sports department, I probably learned more about sports writing working there than I did in 4 years of college.

    It can help develop your writing and if there's a larger daily in the area that also covers some of the same towns, the experience of sharing a post-game interview with them and noting the questions that they ask is a great way to learn if you lack experience.

    But overall, it's tough to make the jump to a daily. I finally did, but it was a long time before a daily paper was willing to take a chance on a sports reporter from a weekly with no daily experience.

    It's possible to get pigeon-holed a weekly, but the experience of covering every sport is second-to-none.
  11. the_rookie

    the_rookie Member

    Here I am: 19-years-old, fresh out of high school working at a weekly. Pages range anywhere from 16, 20 or 24. It depends on how busy the week is, and that might be the case if you're working at a weekly -- of course depending on how big the town is. You might be covering a small community event or a crappy little fishing expo. But it's part of the weekly gig.

    I'm covering sports and news, taking photos and getting cozy. I even found myself a girlfriend and I've only been here for two and a half months. Although I haven't experienced daily deadlines yet, I'm sure most on here will agree at weekly you have a better shot at a social life if you posess social skills.

    I know I wouldn't be able to handle a daily yet, but if you think you can and know you can, then there's no reason to give'r!
  12. statrat

    statrat Member

    Weekly will keep you plenty busy. I'm a one-man sports department at a twice weekly, design the pages, write 90 percent of the copy, shoot the photos and routinely work 6 day/ 60-hour weeks. But the fact that I don't have to yell at a photographer for not coming back with a single usable photo makes it all worth it...
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