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What exactly does desk work entail?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Jay Sherman, Jul 17, 2008.

  1. Jay Sherman

    Jay Sherman Member

    For those who are not out and about during the day and are instead in the newsroom working "the desk" all day, does that simply entail:

    Copy editing

    Is there any writing involved? Is desk work ideal for someone who wants to put in less hectic hours? Otherwise, what's the benefit?
  2. PeteyPirate

    PeteyPirate Guest

    Add watching TV, if there's one in the office
  3. Dickens Cider

    Dickens Cider New Member

    Whether there's writing involved depends on the shop. My boss gives us the option of writing; usually a minor beat at the local D-I. I chose the desk route because I liked the steady hours and the fact that I wasn't taking the job home with me.

    And desk work also can entail spending half your night taking prep submissions. Luckily, we have part-timers for that at my shop.
  4. ... and messing with each reporter's delicate psyche.
  5. BB Bobcat

    BB Bobcat Active Member

    I've often thought I might someday want to switch to the desk, for just that reason. I'm sure the job has plenty of its own challenges while you are doing it, but when you turn off the computer, it's over till the next day. No laying awake at night and thinking: "Man, what the hell am I going to write for an offday feature?"

    Don't flame me as if I'm trying to say working the desk is easier than writing. I'm guessing it's not. It's just a different kind of stress.
  6. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    That's not true. You leave buzzing with adrenaline that some nights won't dissipate for hours. You replay the pratfalls of yourself and others. I can't count the number of times I did a U-turn five or six miles into the ride home to take another look and quell the nagging thoughts that something had gone horribly wrong and I'd missed it. And you do think about the next night's work.
  7. captzulu

    captzulu Member

    Design, copy editing, and agate are generally the main desk duties. At the places I worked at, there was also a decent amount of writing non-rev college/prep roundups from press releases and call-ins.

    As far as the schedule goes, the hours are certainly more steady, but be warned that leaving work at 1 a.m. every night and having to work nights on most weekends is no way to have a social life. When I was first starting out, I lived with my best friend for a couple years, and most days the only time I saw him was when I was leaving to go to work while he was coming in from work. It was especially tough around holidays, when most of the staff was home since there are no games going on, but I and a couple other deskers were still in the office to put out the paper. So depending on what stage of your life you're in and what your friends' and family's schedules are, that could be a severe downside.

    And what Frank says about adrenaline is true. When I first started on desk, I tried to get to bed by about 2 a.m. every night. By the time I got out of the biz, I was going to bed at 6 a.m., and I did spend a lot of time thinking about upcoming special sections and the like (though I suppose you don't HAVE to take work home).
  8. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    All things being equal, I'd rather be desk only, for the simple reason that the hours are consistent.

    Staying up till midnight for a 2-OT basketball game, driving home a half-hour, getting up early and then driving an hour for an 8 a.m. football signing every February is for the birds.

    Deskers who can get away from the desk on occasion can get some decent stories. Even if they can't, they can make a phone call or two and break some good shit.
  9. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    fantasy leagues...
  10. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    a lot.

    edit. rewrite. layout. obits (weekends). sometimes, like yesterday, write stories. deal with general newsroom madness.
  11. dixiehack

    dixiehack Well-Known Member

    Hell I still have nightmares about 2-3 times a month where it is five minutes to deadline and I haven't started laying out the section yet. And those are coming two years after my last newspaper shift.
  12. captzulu

    captzulu Member

    Crap! I have nightmares like that too, where it's an hour to deadline, the section is blank, and I'm working ultra-slow.
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