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Using stringers

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Smallpotatoes, Apr 8, 2012.

  1. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    Occasionally, the photo editor at my company has chided me for using stringers at games. It's not so much a budget issue, but he has implied that when I use stringers, I could be putting myself out of a job. His reasoning, is that when upper-level management sees that stringers are used a lot, it makes sense to lay off full-timers and employ more stringers whom they don't have to pay benefits and withhold payroll taxes.
    With the three large high schools I cover, I usually use stringers to cover football and tournament games. With three football games on a Friday night, playing at the same time, it makes sense as long as can afford it budget-wise to put a body on the games that I can't cover, especially during the playoffs. The photo editor has suggested I cover all three games, leaving in the middle of each game to go to another. That's what the photographers do, he said, completely missing the fact that their job is different than mine and to report on a game that I'm covering, I have to be there until it ends. It also makes no sense for me to be at a game if I have to leave in the middle of it to go to another game.
    But does he make sense about using stringers? Does upper-level management look at it that way and has anyone seen people lose their jobs for that reason?
    Is it something I should keep in mind?
  2. Traveling

    Traveling Member

  3. dixiehack

    dixiehack Well-Known Member

    Photo editors can have an opinion on doing your job when they can consistently turn in cutlines with proper spelling, grammar and identification. Until then, sod off.
  4. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Your photo editor is wrong at every turn. His logic is befuddling.

    You're the sports editor and the only full-timer covering games, I take it? If so, you have nothing to worry about at all. I've seen cases where bigger newspapers have used stringers on nights where the top high school reporter is off for no apparent reason or covering some inconsequential game under the guise of a future feature that will probably suck. There, the issue could be raised.
  5. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty New Member

    i think your photo ed makes a valid point, not because he's an asshole, but because this industry is so terribly fucked up at the basic level. face it: publishers cut corners every chance they get today. quality doesn't matter ... hell, rue the day some asshole sends in a (terrible) photo for free and s/he finds out about said free photo.
  6. Colton

    Colton Active Member

  7. steveu

    steveu Well-Known Member

    Tell the editor if he doesn't want you using stringers, that means you cover less games.

    Then have him or her sit by the phone waiting to take calls from parents saying "HOW COME YOU WEREN'T AT PODUNK VS. HILLBILLY HIGH? THAT WAS THE BIGGEST GAME OF THE YEAR!"

    If the editor has half a brain, using a mix of full-timers and stringers ensures decent coverage. Sad to say most papers are starting to not give a shit.
  8. SportsGuyBCK

    SportsGuyBCK Active Member

    Not necessarily the papers themselves, but the OWNERS of the newspaper CHAINS that don't give a shit ...

    PBOWKER Member

    This makes no sense at all. If you went from game to game to game, you would not be able to keep stats. If you left a game early, you can't get quotes from coach or players. Totally dysfunctional. This sounds like a photographer who gets the cliche photo of the running back in the first minute of the game, and leaves, or the photog who grabs that first slide at second base, and leaves.

    As to your concern: Your job won't be eliminated because you're using stringers, unless said photog has some sort of an inside conversation with editor or publisher. Jobs are eliminated because the publisher, or the corporate boss above the publishers, mandates that a job, or 20 jobs, or eliminated due to the bottom line. No editor wants to eliminate a staff position, believe me. If a staff position is eliminated, the editor knows there is no way he/she will get that position back. In the meantime, stringers can be used to solidify coverage or to help fill in coverage when staff positions are killed.

    The photo editor you're talking about should be more worried about the publisher handing out digital cameras to all the reporters and saying there's no longer a need for a photo department. Not a good move, either, but it happens.
  10. TheHacker

    TheHacker Member

    First of all, Tom Petty hits this out of the park. When the top brass is trying to make sure it can pay the electric bill so it can keep the press running, it's no surprise when lots of other stuff gets hacked and slashed, and it doesn't matter to them one bit. Cut however many people from the newsroom you need to in order to keep the doors open and then let the ones who are left sort out how to make it work.

    Smallpotatoes, if your place is a daily and you're the only sports guy, you're probably safe. If you're a weekly or twice-weekly, maybe not so much. I know of a small weekly that recently decided to farm out all of its sports coverage to freelancers. The place has nobody in sports fulltime now.
  11. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    I think a reasonable case can be made that, with regard to this, the photo ed is an asshole.
  12. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    Stop me if you've heard this one before: Production guy who suggests, in response to Friday night deadlines being moved up, "leave at halftime and have someone else call in the rest of the game."

    Now, the shooter's suggestion works great if you're in TV and just need footage of a touchdown, long run or big hit for the Friday Night Blitz package, otherwise, good luck with that 60-point head, "Springfield leads Shelbyville 17-3 at halftime."
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