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State of journalism

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Tom Petty, Oct 1, 2006.

  1. greenthumb

    greenthumb Member

    I know there are two sides to this piece of advice, but I'm throwing it out here anyway ...

    Learn to do everything. Refine your writing, take the time to learn layout and design, learn how your Web site runs, get good at editing other people's copy, and get management experience if at all possible. Talk to other departments and understand how they operate. Develop strong working relationships, and try to remain professional even when you disagree. Talk to IT and find out everything you can about how to fix minor computer and system problems. Hell, I wouldn't rule out having a passing familiarity with RIPs and plates and presses. If you don't know how to do something, learn how and make sure those making decisions know it.

    I know some will say, 'If they know I can do desk, I'll get stuck doing it all the time.'

    Well, maybe. But I can tell you that when layoffs come around, they'll be a little slower to cut the versatile folks. And I'd rather be on the desk than unemployed. The well-rounded employee is a tough one to get rid of.

    Of course, if you've been in the business for a while and have a big salary with a gaggle of children on your insurance, you're probably screwed no matter how much you know. I think it is a sad statement on the condition of our industry that we'll fire someone with years of experience and local knowledge to save $15,000. No one ever stops to consider how much firing that guy might cost us in training time, increased errors and missed deadlines.
  2. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    I make decent money, actually good money. But I work every day. I've worked almost every day the last three years. I have to work every day because I'm the only one in the department and I'm trying to outperform other papers. But I'm tired. I'm considering leaving this paradise for a straight-up reporting job in another state far away, which means less money, because I'm not sure how much longer I can wear 28 hats. I've been in the biz for 15 years at a variety of domestic and international papers. I know my limitations: I'll never be Esquire Jones but I'm far from Podunk Bumblestink who can't string a verb and noun. I want to be part of a team instead of the entire team.
  3. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    Easy answer -- don't get older.
  4. spaceman

    spaceman Active Member

    that's why you're da man
  5. sartrean

    sartrean Member

    What really pisses me off is we got debt-ridden reporters and junior editors making $27K a year, and there's eight publishers downtown at corporate making $200K a year who don't do shit.

    I've been doing this for 15 years now off and on. I briefly went over the dark side of PR, but I quickly learned I couldn't be myself. I like being myself than a fake person, and for that I'll stay here until the shithouse goes up in flames.

    But in all my 15 years, having worked a variety of positions from desk, photo desk, photographer, news reporter, AME, sports editor, back to sports reporter and editor, I have no friggin clue what a publisher does.

    If anyone knows like the day-to-day duties of the typical daily or weekly publisher, I'd like to know. My current publisher(s), there's like eight of them and every time I'm downtown, they're walking around with a friggin latte in their hand, or they aren't there.

    So, what the hell do publishers do for all that cheese?
  6. Probably the biggest issue is that those whom have taken so much from the business have not given back. And it's a problem lacking the forsight of creativity and finances.

    I know I abuse way more than I praise, but overall, it's editors and writers that have built and sustained this business since the creation of a Free Press. A leading issue is that the corporate machine has hi-jacked the credibility of newspapars almost entirely. I can't name one paper that I whole-heartedly believe is free from corporate influence. Thus, society continues to buy into the credibility of what now are pundits and political mafia. You have fair and balanced Fox, left-leaning CNN run by one of the richest men in the world, NBC (GE, why does an electric company own a TV network. Talk about controlling the story?), CBS (Viacom), left-leaning Washington Post, The NY Times owns a bunch of stuff, Belo is a smaller fish, Clear Channel and the list goes on and on, but the majors are a relatively small whose who of old, credible news organizations. Does this mean it's the same journalism or the same credibility? Certainly not.

    So the solution is above. To have a fundamental shift, those former hard-core journalists, real reporters, real managing editors, real publishers, real sales people have got to come together, with their own money and use their credibility to establish an organization that people can go to which is untouched by corporate cancer. I think Dan Rather and Mark Cuban are venturing into something like this. I don't know how far along they are, or how serious, but it's a start.

    The larger picture is not so much the concern of a loss of the history and creativity of the newspaper, it's the loss of journalistic skills, ethics and laws that are most frightening. The current administration, which I voted for (twice), talk about preserving freedom, yet they seek to destroy anyone that tries to use that freedom. To save the skill, it must start with like-minded and differing patriots that go back to fundamentals. People might call that a revolution...see American history somewheres around 1770. There are plenty of 20- and 30-somethings that are willing to follow the lead of credible, knowledgable journalists. But, not at the expense of our future...I just don't know if any baby boomers are up to this. America's greatest generation (I think that's a crock) is one that is ready for gratification...they are ready to enjoy those 401ks and retire to Arizona and Florida. But we need that generation to provide the funds it has to make certain a true free press does not die.

    I talked recently with a man that worked for 50 years+ in this business, retired and enjoying the good life...whatever that is for him. It was striking that he mentioned he never earned a college degree, in fact, never enrolled in one class. In polling some of the same-aged individuals, I was shocked to find that, save for senior managers, most of the old-school reporters never went to college. So, we don't need any more bullshit scholarships...we need a system that will challenge the status quo. And only the wealthier, older journalists can provide the credibility and finances. Otherwise, we leave jack ass conspiracy theorists on the internet, claiming to be credible journalists. And people are starving for anything outside the norm.
  7. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    Some help with ad sales. The real money in newspapering is in sales. Even smallish papers will have ad reps in the six-figure range.
    Other duties include keeping up good relations with all the advertising clients. Taking them to lunch, dinner, events (face-to-face marketing). Also putting out fires. Not just with clients, but also readers and employees. If the paper is part of a chain, the publisher also has bosses.
    That isn't exactly day-to-day, but I think you get the idea.
  8. JME

    JME Member

    These quotes hit home.

    I'm creeping up on 30 years old and still have no clue if, when or where I'll make it in this business. The only reason I haven't given up on it by now is because it's what I love doing, and I feel like I have some ability. But the market is atrocious. Jobs that should be getting college resumes are getting young pros. Jobs that should be attracting resumes from young pros are fetching them from experienced, well-credentialed veterans.

    After being laid off 14 months ago, I've been working at a major metro as a part timer and doing some freelancing. It's hard to pay the bills like that. I don't apply for a lot of jobs because, quite honestly, I can't see moving to some random town to cover preps. I've covered a major DI beat and have assembled some decent clips and awards, but yet it seems like the type of job available to me, and people like me, are the kind that recent grads should be getting. Every time I check in with an SE somewhere, he says thanks but we're not sure if the job is going to be filled. Or they already have someone lined up. Or they already have in mind a specific type of profile they want to fill.

    I don't really have an answer to any of the questions, I just feel like rambling and feeling sorry for myself once in a while when I momentarily stop avoiding the issue of what I'm going to do with my life.
  9. Crimson Tide

    Crimson Tide Member

    I'm going to stay where I'm at for the time being while I work my ass off to become debt-free. I'm not too far away. When I get there, I'll still be under 30. I'm going back to school to be an architect most likely. I love writing and I enjoy covering preps because I enjoy the contacts I've made, but this industry is never going to allow for us to make a decent wage to raise a family on and not live in a constant revolving door of debt. Likewise, if I wanted to move up the corporate journalism ladder, and I've said this before, get a business degree.
  10. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    This brought to mind something I have been mulling over the last year or so. I was thinking to myself: Do I want to try and push myself to become a professional sports beat writer or not? And I think that answer is no. Part of the reason is I wouldn't want to be away from my family for xx months out of the year, but part of it is also that I love covering high school sports and I don't see it as a "knock" on me if I cover high school sports the rest of my life. I am sure I will be ripped for not trying to "advance" as high as I can go, but there are some of us out there that have no problem not "moving up" in the business.

    Also, financially what I do isn't really that big of a deal because I married a RN.
  11. Remind me not to turn my back on you when you're cleaning the revolver.
  12. Jeff_Rake

    Jeff_Rake Member

    Hey, if I can pull it off, I deserve the job.
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