1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Two Charlotte Observer jobs

Discussion in 'Journalism Jobs' started by Mike_Persinger, May 12, 2006.

  1. Madhavok

    Madhavok Well-Known Member

    Well when I read 'designer' I'm assuming the position requires design and layout. Now that's out of the way...What are you looking for in terms of experience? The usual 3-5 years of working at in intense daily, deadlines....
  2. fmrsped

    fmrsped Active Member

    I think he meant that in more of an abstract sort of way, i.e., he wants a "designer," which could be interpreted as a very good "layout person." I think he said layout person meaning someone who comes in, puts a picture in the middle of the page, goes around it and leaves. I believe Mike, although I don't want to speak for him, was kind of saying he wants a damn good designer, not the description I gave above.

    I could be wrong.
  3. Well said, el grande.
  4. Thanks for all the interest in these jobs -- I'm at about 50 resumes. Here's one interesting e-mail I got with 20 questions about our section. Since I took time to answer it, I thought I'd post the answers here. If there's a typo, forgive me. It was, after all, 20 questions, which either means the e-mailer is very curious or big trouble:

    1) How much interaction is there between the sports copy desk and the
    writers? Are we to be glorified proofreaders and spell checkers or
    will there be opportunities to shape and improves stories if we see

    I expect you to work with reporters to improve their stories. This of course requires that you gain their trust through solid work and give and take, not just changes for the sake of making it like you would write it. There's a protocol for making changes to stories, mostly common courtesy stuff like discussing any change of consequence with the writer. But you do have routine chances to do this directly with the writer. If you're good at it, they'll tell me. If you're bad, they'll tell me that, too.

    2) Do Observer sports copy editors build their own pages? Or do you
    have those robots that do the job?

    Some copy editors build formatted pages, like the baseball or NBA page, but it's not required and I have designers to do the high-end stuff. You're free to learn as much as you want, and design skills (or even layout skills, and there's a difference) won't hurt you. Robots are another thought I hadn't considered, or is that what you call designers where you are?

    3) How many layers are there between the copy desk and you? Your title
    is Executive Editor, is there a Sports Editor, a Sports Copy Desk
    Chief and separate Sub-Editors as well? I feel like there are so many
    layers between us already, you never call, you never write...

    My door is open, now and always. I'm at the sports desk meeting every afternoon at 4:15. There's an ASE in charge each night, but that doesn't mean you can't get me if you want me.

    4) What is the policy regarding copy editors who write? Is this
    verboten, punishable by exile to circulation?

    Copy editors don't write much for us. There are stringing opportunities, and I have no problem with people doing this on their day off. If you want to be a writer, though, go be a writer. This is a copy editing job, and you shortchange me, yourself and the job if you want it to be a bridge to something else.

    6) Is this position an agate-only position? If not, will there be
    agate training? How much? Can you give a percentage estimate? Can you
    name the days? Come on, stop stalling and answer the questions.

    Not an agate-only position. Much of the agate you would handle is data formatted when it comes into the system, and you only have to assign it to the page. There's some of this, some taking phoners, etc., to make the paper run and get out on time.

    7) What is the sports staff size? (Number of employees, not their
    heights, please, I'm afraid of heights.)

    I have 29 people, myself included, in sports. There are also three bureau sports guys who report to editors in those bureaus but often have their stuff in our section.

    8) Did you notice I totally skipped question number five? He'll show
    up later, he's just like that.

    Just get it right before you publish.

    9) "I'm looking for a copy editor with the drive and guts to go beyond
    reading what's put in front of them and conceive and execute ideas
    that make our section better." These are your words, are they not? So,
    just how flexible is the sports front?

    I'm flexible, but you're gonna have to sell me. And understanding this market is important, because it's different from where you are. If you've got a good idea, pitch it. Maybe between us we can make it great.

    10) Describe the interaction between the Sports and Internet
    departments: Chinese Wall or revolving door?

    Revolving door. One internet sports person does two days in my department, three for online. They like sports, want sports, need sports, and we'll do more online as we go forward.

    5) How likely is this copy editor position to disappear once the
    merger is complete? (Told you it was important.)

    Not gonna disappear. Needed to get out the paper. If anything, I expect us to gain a person or two after the merger with McClatchy.
  5. PART 2, since I exceeded the 5,500-word limit (who knew?).

    11) Telecommute?

    Not unless bird flu makes it necessary. There's a plan for that. CCI computer upgrade will make it possible, though, so in the future, who knows? But I think it's a healthy atmosphere here, and that the intellectual exchange will outweigh the convenience for the employee. I have system access from home, and let me tell you it's sometimes no prize.

    12) What percentage of your staff are "lifers" or guys who are growing
    moss between their toes? Every paper has them, some have more than
    their share. These are the guys who hold things back with "I don't
    know if we can do that," and "That's never going to work," and "What
    was management thinking?" So how many — come on, you know. How many?

    I have three copy editors and a deputy who predate me here, all with nearly 20 years at the paper. Then I have a group that is much younger. My people know I listen to them, so mostly I hear about things they disagree with before they get to the "what were they thinking" stage. I'm not nearly smart enough to have all the good ideas.

    13) And what is being done about them?

    No need to do anything. They all have great knowledge of the Carolinas, are great copy editors and keep me out of trouble.

    14) Who resurrects abominable stringer copy?

    Copy editors, usually. We have a pretty good stable of stringers, though, so it's not awful. The benefit of being in a pretty big market.

    15) Think fast: Ratio of sports features to game coverage stories?

    40-60, maybe? We've won APSE awards for game stories the past four years (I don't want to see that category go away) but we also do a lot of other stuff, features, analysis, etc. Good question, though. Thinking fast, that's my best guess. Maybe 30-70.

    16) How many reporters are devoted to community sports coverage? 110
    high schools is a lot of high schools — I do not envy the guy covering
    that beat.

    We have three full-timers in sports and three in bureaus who do lots of prep stuff. We're the "hometown paper" for Mecklenburg County, so our focus is there and in the contiguous portions of the surrounding counties.

    17) Where does non-traditional sports coverage go? (Adult "recreation"
    sports like softball, soccer, basketball; street hoops; running;
    pee-wee leagues; cards and other games; Midnight bowling;
    weightlifting; the gym scene; those nutballs who are always on their
    bikes on MY road when I'm driving to work, what about them? Do you
    have a traffic nuisance section?)

    Not in sports. We do high schools and higher, unless it's kids competing on a state or regional level. Agate only on those kids for the most part.

    18) Do we have dedicated sports photographers? Are they photographers
    or "artistes"? Here's the definition: a photographer will shoot a
    picture of high school kid who was just signed to a 1A school; an
    artiste won't.

    Our photo staff has several very good sports photographers, and they all like to do sports. We generally have them shoot only events we're considering for the front, with the exception of multiple high school football games on Fridays in the fall. It's a good relationship. They shoot good stuff, we play the pictures well, everybody is happy.

    19) How much space are you willing to devote to a kick-ass story? 60
    inches? 100? Is there a limit?

    There's not a limit, depends on the story. We've won two green eyeshade awards for feature stories, both four days, two pages a day narratives. I'll save space for greatness. That said, it better be great, or readers won't read it.

    20) What is the ad percentage on our pages?

    Depends on the day. Probably 25-35 percent ads. We have enough space to do things well, but we're not swimming in it.
  6. fmrsped

    fmrsped Active Member

    I'd bet my left pinky toe it was DyePack.
  7. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    It wasn't, so you'll limp through life.

    My main question would be: Do you hire the best person? Or do you go through a lot of nonsense about "good fits," etc., that allows you to hire the cheapest person?
  8. fmrsped

    fmrsped Active Member

    I'd bet my right I could still whip your ass for being an insufferable prick.
  9. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    Then you'll limp even worse.
  10. fmrsped

    fmrsped Active Member

    I like the banter, and I'll stop now so as to not take away from the thread. ...

    But perhaps this is a possible thread topic for anything goes: would losing a pinky toe cause you to limp long-term? Like, if you bet a pinky toe in a bet over a game and lost, would I suffer that badly? I'm sure the amputation would be bad, but there's no way you'd limp without your pinky, right?

  11. You hire the best person you can with the funds you can pry out of your financial people. For me, "good fit" refers more to how the person performs and balances the weaknesses I have and those my staff has than anything financial. This is not an entry-level job. It's also not gonna allow you to retire in a year. But North Carolina gets Powerball next week, so there's always hope ...
  12. imnotpho-real

    imnotpho-real New Member

    So you're swimming in resumes. When will you contact designers you're interested in?
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page