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Transitioning from sports to news

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by DeskMonkey1, Apr 13, 2015.

  1. DeskMonkey1

    DeskMonkey1 Active Member

    A paper in another market contacted me today about an open copy desk chief job (I was recommended by a mutual colleague - not a complete cold call) and I'm certainly going to talk to them. But I don't know the best way to address a certain situation without sabotaging myself.

    First, a quick recap of the positives: This paper, while still a midsize market, is nearly double the circulation size, per 2012 numbers; the pay would be higher; 3 It's a bigger market and a suburb of a MUCH bigger market, which means if things go south, I'm in a position to find new work without having to move (again.)

    That said, here is why I'm not happy with my current situation, and it's something most of us can relate to.
    I'm tired of exclusively working nights, weekends and holidays. The news folks at my current shop rotate and only work weekends once a month and nights two weeks a month on rotating shifts. The rest of the time they work on special sections that don't require them working an evening shift (unless they simply choose to.) Plus, they can work out among themselves who works certain holidays and who do not.

    The long short of it is there is much more scheduling flexibility at my current shop which works well with my next family situation (older kid started school last year and the younger starts next year).

    Another biggie: I'm stuck in neutral at my current shop. I've been bluntly told I'm not moving up, down or sideways as long as my current boss is there and considering he just turned 48 last week, he's not retiring anytime soon. That has killed my motivation.

    How do I approach this in the interview tomorrow (yikes!) in a professional manner? All the stuff above? That's personal and the hiring manager is interested in what I can do for him, not what he can do for me. And I don't want to ignore it because I'm not gung-ho to have the same set of problems just under a different back drop.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. ringer

    ringer Member

    Remember: you don't have to sign the deal tomorrow. AND you might not be the only candidate.

    I'd just ask what kind of schedule they had in mind. (It might not be as inflexible as you assume.)

    Re: career growth.. try to (tactfully) find out what happened to the last copy chief (or two). It's fine to mention that you do have a long-term plan and that if you uproot yourself for this job, then you want to see if it seems reasonable at least. Obviously, no one's going to guarantee anything.

    But try your best to save the lifestyle questions until the end, AFTER you sell them on your skills and they see what a perfect fit you'd be for the job.

    Hope that helps.

    Bottom line: if they make you an offer.... leaving a dead-end job is always the right move. Life is too short to stay in neutral for more than 5 years (unless you're making a ton of cash).

    Also, who knows? If you do get this other job, then maybe your current boss will offer you an incentive to stay. If not, then that should just reinforce your decision to change.
    Bronco77 likes this.
  3. Bronco77

    Bronco77 Well-Known Member

    The previous post offered excellent all-round advice, but the quoted points are especially strong.

    One thing I'd add is that along with trying to find out what happened to the last few copy chiefs, it might be worth somehow (if you have a source at the paper or know someone who has a source) finding out if there's an in-house candidate for the job you're interviewing for, and how that candidate might react to someone else being hired. When I was promoted into my first supervisory role, I had to deal with a disgruntled employee who was passed over for the job and maintains to this day (14 years after the fact) that she should've gotten the job. Believe me, it wasn't fun.

    Also, I think that even if the new schedule isn't ideal, it's probably preferable to remaining in a dead-end job. Look at it this way: If you prove yourself at the new job, your chances of being promoted in a year or two into a position with a better schedule are very good.

    Finally, does the copy chief position involve scheduling responsibilities? I spent a few years doing the schedule and it was a royal pain in the butt, but one of the few advantages was that I tried to schedule myself for a Saturday off every six weeks or so for mental health reasons (and the bosses were so grateful that THEY didn't have to do the sked that they let me get away with it). So if you have scheduling duties, don't be afraid to give yourself a break every so often.

    Best of luck!
  4. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

    Life is too short, and newsroom jobs are too busy,
    to worry about an in-house candidate's butthurt. That's the manager's arena.

    Change is good if you keep growing. And it's about the only way to get a big raise anymore.
  5. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Never turn down coffee, or an interview. What's the worst that can happen?
    Mr. Sunshine likes this.
  6. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Spilling your coffee at the interview?
  7. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    Sorry I didn't see this sooner, DM ... hope the interview went well.

    You titled this thread "transitioning from sports to news" ... is that why you anticipate more day shifts? As a second-shifter who's had 15 years of scheduling adventure around children's school and sports schedules, that alone would be a good reason to make the move.

    One other point: Although it's daytime hours, working on special sections brings a whole lot of headaches, especially since many of them are "advertorial" jobs that require kow-towing to ad reps at the very least, if not actual business owners. Redoing the same page multiple times, or trying to fit last-second photos and/or new copy onto a page, is a huge pain in the ass.

    Good luck!
  8. DeskMonkey1

    DeskMonkey1 Active Member

    Yes. While I hold no illusions of never working another night shift, I've long eyeballed the news section because, at least from what I'm seeing, there is more flexibility in the scheduling. "Hey, I want to go out of town on this weekend next month." "No problem, we'll shift things around that week." I worked news for two years and although I did have an exclusive night schedule, I at least had the flexibility when I needed it. In sports I have to take a vacation day. And I got every other weekend off.

    At my current shop, we have one guy, 25 years old, who works 90% days, only working one weekend a month and only working nights because he wants to (unless it's hit week to do the daily, of course). I get very envious.
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