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What defines our success?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by daytonadan1983, Feb 20, 2014.

  1. daytonadan1983

    daytonadan1983 Active Member

    Interested to hear everyone’s input on my query:

    My area has an online journalist who constantly reminds me that he’s an “award winning news journalist” as well as how he thinks how easy it is for a news reporter to come over and a cover a sports event and for some reason my spot on the journalism food chain is a couple of rings lower than his, primarily because I’ve switched over to the SID side for the time being…with some freelancing thrown in as well.

    Yes, my first response is always “Do you ever wonder what it sound like a chicken tried to sing a CeeLo Green hit record?” … but some days…

    When I was in tourism PR 15 years ago, I snagged a Webby award, which was a pretty big deal in the internet industry and gave me enough credibility/leverage to keep my job and do it the way I want. It was cool, but I had that Lightning McQueen/Doc Hudson moment from Cars where I learned that all awards do is collect dust … And it proved true: the greatest moments since then have been Bill France saying he liked a story I wrote when Dale Earnhardt won the Daytona 500, a state wrestling meet in Utah [see the other thread] and a SABR member on this site saying I did a good job on a Jackie Robinson piece.

    Still, I’m like everyone else: I want the win. There’s an SID writing contest I’ve entered. Let's see what happens.

    And that leads to my next query.

    I’ve had a mini mid-life crisis since a friend of mine elevated up to being the Lakers beat writer for an LA paper. (Yeah, they suck this year, but it’s still like ascending to Olympus if you’re into hoops) and here I am doing men’s basketball, volleyball, tennis and softball for a low-level DI. And then Mr. humble online journalists with his jabs Even though I have a different agenda right now [health, proximity to kids, etc.] but it makes you wonder…

    So here’s my question:

    Where/Where/How do awards and our position/status in the industry define us and our careers, if they do it all?

    Look forward to some profound replies, as well as the not-so-profound.
  2. welch10

    welch10 New Member

    Awards, in the end, are a direct result of thewwork you put in. But, anyone can write one award-winning piece. You should be judged by the quality of your work as a whole and I think employers do that.
  3. Morris816

    Morris816 Member

    Last paper I worked at, I got bonuses for winning awards. So there was that incentive.

    I would suspect those days are coming to an end at most papers, though.

    So awards can be nice for pride, but readers won't care unless they know you personally, so you shouldn't hammer the point home about being an "award winning writer" and let your writing speak for itself.
  4. DeskMonkey1

    DeskMonkey1 Active Member

    When my former shop went from a newspaper with a website to a website with a printed product 3 days a week, all the awards the paper had won over the years were found in the dumpster.
  5. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    This. I've worked with total dipshits that pulled one good feature story out of their ass and won a state press association award. Most of the time, they could barely write a 12-inch football gamer on deadline. I've had stories I thought were slam-bang, well-written award winners that lost to relatively average pieces about one-legged little leaguers suffering from diabetes and cooties.

    I take more pride in my consistency. I've won at least one state press association award (sort of like being voted prom king at Quasimodo High, but still ...) almost every year I've been in the business. One year I swept the three writing categories I entered, which was pretty damn cool and a career highlight because it was a year I really did put in a lot of hard work. I felt like, for one brief moment, I was the best at something.
    That's all some validation when I start to doubt myself, or go through a slump. I know I'm pretty good at this job. I like to think my higher-ups see that too.

    Now, all that said, my awards are collecting dust in a box in the closet. It was drummed into me early on that anyone can win an award, so they're nothing special -- which I hate, because they should offer some validation for a job well done. Even if it means nothing to the people who give raises, it's OK to know what went into earning them and smile at a job well done.
  6. 3_Octave_Fart

    3_Octave_Fart Well-Known Member

    Your award should be getting to spend uninterrupted holidays with your family or being able to lead a healthy private life, while you and they are still on this planet.
    That might be an award worth framing.
    Which is saying nothing of being paid commensurate to your talent and experience.
  7. albert77

    albert77 Well-Known Member

    I too have won my fair share of awards over the years and while they're nice, they don't put food on the table, so to speak.

    The biggest thing they do for me is in the eyes of my peers, other sports writers around the state. When I go to a state championship game, I'm a known and respected quality by others in the room, some of whom I've known for years. I can be on a first-name basis with the head of the high school association and someone whose calls he'll return. That means something.

    However, to me, my greatest joy is when someone greets me on the street or at the grocery store and says, "I really liked your story on So-And-So." That's the kind of validation that means the most to me.
  8. Colton

    Colton Active Member

    This is tremendous! Having been forced to take 95 furlough days, no raises in almost 7 years and blah, blah, blah... I, too, would be thrilled with what you described so well.
  9. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    One reason I liked to win some awards was that it was one of the few ways that a sports writer could catch the eye of the higher-ups at my shop.

    Plus, however flawed they may be - and they are flawed - they did earn me some credibility, currency and latitude with my bosses, both in sports and the paper at large. They trusted my judgment more on news judgment, length judgment, and so forth.

    So while I never received a raise as a result of awards, I feel like they did help improve my quality of life at work.
  10. Walter Burns

    Walter Burns Member

    I've always felt that awards are like newspaper endorsements of political candidates: They matter to the people who get them, and don't to the people who don't.
    Awards are nice to get, but if you're basing your value on them, and you got into this business to win them, then you got into it for the wrong reason.
    We had a photographer take the photo of the month for the state AP. He submitted it for the state awards, and it wasn't even a finalist.
    The bottom line is this: YOU define your success. If you let anyone else do it, it'll make you crazy. And that includes comparing yourself to other people. Believe me, I've done it until I've come to the brink of madness (and I haven't entirely stopped). It's golf (you against the course) and not basketball.
  11. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    APSE awards and any most journalism awards are ridiculously overrated.

    That being said, I would not have gotten as far as I did in journalism without them, so for that, I'm grateful I won several. It seems like the tiebreaker during the hiring process. "Well, I like both of them the same, but this guy won two APSEs last year." It's stupid, but it's reality...

    At one point, I won a state "Sportswriter of the Year" and I was asked about it when I interviewed for my last gig. I went on about what an honor it was and while you don't write to win awards, it's incredibly humbling when you do...

    The real answer was that three of the other big papers in the state don't participate, and that the awards usually rotate among the four biggest papers who participate. It was my paper's turn to win it, I had a good year, hence, why I got the award.

    I felt like a success when I started making more than $50K a year. I had been at some class at Poynter where they said that 90+ percent of people who work in journalism (It may have even been 95 percent) will never make $50K, so when I did, I sort of felt like, "OK, I'm in the top 5-10 percent of my field, so that must mean something..."

    These days you should feel like a success if you keep your job. That's something a lot of us couldn't manage to do... :D
  12. 3_Octave_Fart

    3_Octave_Fart Well-Known Member

    Enjoy your life, bud.
    It's the most valuable thing you own.
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