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What do you know about your operation?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by JayFarrar, Dec 22, 2014.

  1. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member



    I do my best to avoid the Jay Rosen/Jeff Jarvis thoughts on journalism but nothing he said I really disagree with. If you work in the newsroom, you should know some pretty basic things about your operation. It will make a you a better employee and a better reporter or copy editor or photographer or whatever.

    Why this is such a hard concept to grasp baffles me.
  2. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    I understand that it may baffle you, but if I have to follow each of Jay Rosen's points there, that's when I'LL get out of the business.
    Frank_Ridgeway likes this.
  3. Who are some of Jay Rosen's students who are going to eat current journalists' lunch?
  4. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    I'm a writer and don't need to know why it is important to make deadlines or hit my copy length. All I have to know is how to write.

    Step 1: Write
    Step 2: ?
    Step 3: Profits

    Why should I bother to learn Step 2? That's why we have magical underpants gnomes and they'll take care of it.
  5. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    Jay, making deadlines and hitting copy length is part of your job description. That's different from what Rosen's talking about.

    It's like this. When friends out of the business, or people who were in the business and are now out of it, ask me how it's going, I tell them, "As long as I don't look past my computer screen, everything's great." And it's true. I work with a great bunch of people. Three days out of four, I'm working on a live edition, and the fourth day is Sunday advance, which was always part of the job anyway.

    A long time ago, I realized the safest route for my sanity in this profession is to divide things into two piles -- in my control and out of my control. So I worry about hitting my page times. I worry about doing good work. I don't worry when advertising doesn't sell a single ad for a 72-page football tab.

    When we went from a daily to a three-day, I didn't say a word of complaint. And if we go from a three-day to no paper at all, I'll keep my mouth shut then, too. Out of my control.

    That's the short version about my "incuriosity." And like I said, if it pisses off some faux intellectuals (not you) -- hey, just an added perk. :)
  6. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    There's lot of writers out there, both young and old, who don't give a flying fuck about deadlines and copy length because that's the desk's job and fuck those guys anyway, all they are going to do is edit errors into my perfect copy anyway, so if I'm late, or write 300 words more than I was assigned, that's on them, not me.

    If you've worked at a place that hasn't happened, you'd be the first person to work there. So what happens is the SE or ME or someone in authority sits the writer down and tells them why those things are important. And sometimes that message gets received and sometimes it doesn't.

    All Rosen is saying, to me, is that you should have an idea as to how the business side works and that it isn't magical underpants gnomes. And, not for nothing, I'd freak the fuck out if we had a 72-page football tab that didn't have a single ad in it. At my place that would either mean, the tab wouldn't run and that copy would be folded into the section or it would run a bare bone 12 pages or something and call it a night.

    I understand the notion of dividing things into piles of things I can do and things I don't control, but that doesn't mean checking out entirely. It is how talented people stay in the same job for decades instead of advancing in their organizations.
  7. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    I can see your side of it. I'm happy and sane with this end.

    There's also the argument that advancement may not be in the front of everyone's mind. Somebody's still the foot soldiers, and if you don't have some foot soldiers who understand their job, you're in trouble then, too.

    If I wanted to be on the executive end, I would have pursued that long ago. I like think-tank meetings less than I like Spam.

    And those are the people who have the problem.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2014
  8. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    This is a case where "begs the question" would be relevant, because there's a huge gap in logic here.

    Anyone who is paying attention to the business side of journalism would know enough to get out of journalism.

    Those snowflakes in Jay Rosen's class who would eat the lunch of current journalists? If they know so little about the world, that lunch is going to be all the eat. They're going to starve.
  9. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    It goes beyond what your specific job is or isn't. You are part of something bigger than your writing and editing job. I can't understand why anyone wouldn't at least have the curiosity to understand how what they spend their day doing fits into the bigger picture. ... let alone trying to hone in on doing their job in a way that develops readership and makes for better ad sales.

    You are selling a product. It's that simple.

    You are part of a business that involves many different jobs. As a writer or an editor, it doesn't mean you need to spend your day doing circulation work or ad sales work. But we're simply taking about understanding the relationships between the things, and how they can best work together to create the strongest business possible.

    When all of those things -- editorial, readership, ads -- are aligned right, it makes the most salable product. I have heard it described as a three-legged stool. You need a product that speaks to the audience that is part of the strategy. If you get that part wrong, you are never going to develop that audience, or if you already have it, you will lose it. The ability to sell ads depends on that audience, which is why the ability to sell ads depends on editorial that is tailored properly. Take away any of the three legs and you have a stool that is wobbly, at best.

    I agree with most of what he wrote -- and the fact that he lives in an ivory tower really doesn't speak to whether what he wrote is right or wrong.
  10. Is it desirable to be a journalist when trying to emulate BuzzFeed is considered a worthy objective? Sure, you might be able to eat, but there also is something to be said for those who desire to create quality work instead of pandering for clicks.
  11. Meatie Pie

    Meatie Pie Member

    It's easier to just avoid considering ideas or topics of consequence. Easier to never seek to achieve.

    Never have to ponder falling short of one's goals that way. Never have to wonder what tomorrow might bring when you just live day by day.

    Rosen made some good points, and some points that weren't so good. Nolan's rebuttal was fine.

    But at this point, there is no debate on two topics.
    - If you remain in newspapers, you are on borrowed time, professionally
    - Journalism will survive and thrive. The trick is making money in it.
  12. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    So someone should forget about the roof over their head and the food on the table and leave their job because they don't understand why corporate chooses to do what they want to do? What about those who change their business model every six months?
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