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Where would you rather start...?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Thanks for comin' out, May 11, 2007.

  1. After college would you prefer to start:

    At a little bit larger of a paper for a newbie ... (say, 50-75K) in a small media market where your paper has no competition and no real way to make media connections besides TV and people at your own paper...


    A smaller paper (15-30K) that's an hour from a large media market, where you would be near some pro sports, major college stuff, but obviously you would be a extremely small fish in an extremely large pond.

    I guess an example would be something like ... Savannah, Ga. vs. Marietta, Ga - outside atlanta for you non-southerners.

  2. Barsuk

    Barsuk Active Member

    Wherever they'll give you a job, with a paycheck and everything. If you don't have job offers from both places, then it's kind of a silly question, isn't it?

    I don't mean to be harsh, but it seems like you might be getting ahead of yourself a little.
  3. The better paper, regardless of size. A paper that's going to let you have space to write and latitude with your ideas and then help you execute them. Knowing what I know now, that's most important of all, even more than circulation, pay scale, etc. You can atrophy very quick without a nurturing situation.
  4. It's a simple scenario question... If you had to do it over again, which one do you think is best.... Don't make it so difficult.
  5. jimnorden

    jimnorden Member

    Major web site. :)
  6. TyWebb

    TyWebb Well-Known Member

    More important than the size of the paper and your coverage area is whether or not you can live in that area, can you work with the people there and does the paper have a good track record of developing young talent.
  7. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Assuming you don't plan to grow roots at either spot, it depends on what you would be doing.

    If your main beat at the bigger paper is preps and a local juco vs. covering lots of pro games and major college sports at the smaller paper, I'd probably go with the smaller paper.

    You would likely make more connections and learn more and have the chance to be noticed if you worked hard.

    Lots of up and comers from smaller papers are touted by writers at bigger papers and that's how they get the chance to move up.
  8. Barsuk

    Barsuk Active Member

    But it's not a simple scenario, as you can see from the posts so far. It's a very complex question that you'll answer if and when necessary (hopefully after much thought and deliberation, pros and cons lists, etc.).

    There is no correct answer. It depends on so many things, and even then, it depends on the person. I've been happier covering colleges at small papers than preps at bigger papers, and vice versa.

    If you get job offers from two places that fit your scenario, you'll have to make that decision, and it probably won't be an easy one. You'll probably always wonder what would have happened if you had taken the other path.
  9. Riddick

    Riddick Active Member

    Go wherever you can learn the most. I hate to say it, but at a lot of small shops, the SE doesn't usually take time out to make his reporters better. And yes, some of that is the reporter's responsibility to ask for help.
    But as a guy who started at a large paper, I was forced to learn fast or lose my job. Thankfully, I'm a quick learner.
    There's no point to having a ton of room to write what you want, if the stories turn out like shit and you think they smell like roses.
  10. zagoshe

    zagoshe Well-Known Member

    If I had to do it over again coming out of college? That's simple, I'd have gone to law school or med school and gotten into a profession where I could make some real money.....
  11. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Those medical schools in Central America that will take folks with a C+ average are expensive, though.
  12. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    My first full-time job was with two suburbans with a combined 110K circulation, and I got to cover the pros. We had a lot of talent on that staff -- including one guy who is now a major-metro columnist and another who has been the top editor on a couple major magazines. And while some of us eventually managed to cover pros on metros, all of us who made the jump from there did so as deskmen, including the aforementioned columnist, although his stay on the desk was brief. Unless you are breaking news on the beat -- hard to do against top reporters in a highly competitive, multi-daily market -- you are just another face in the crowd.

    My next stop was with a mid-major, No. 1 in its market. There was another young desk guy there who wanted to write and wound up taking a job covering pro sports for a 35K. Now he since has done very well -- very, very, very well -- as a sports reporter, but he was stuck on that 35K for about six years. About a year after he got there I had moved to a major metro and I kept recommending this guy, and the SE kept saying his clips are kind of average. I kept saying, well, he's writing six stories a day, how can anyone be a wordsmith with that kind of workload? One time he came out my way -- on Friday he covered an NBA game, on Saturday a major-college football game, on Sunday an NFL game, and on each day he also filed a bunch of NFL stories as that was his beat. We managed to squeeze in a few drinks Saturday night after each of us finished work and I felt kind of powerless to help him. I knew he'd be great if he'd just catch a break, and indeed he was, like immediately, when a metro finally gave him a chance. Less than a year after going to that metro, The National took him.
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