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Work smarter, not harder

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by flexmaster33, Oct 11, 2009.

  1. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Active Member

    It seems that staff cuts and furlough days are putting us all under a crunch, and the mandate from above is often "Work harder"

    I just wanted to start a thread to see what different SEs are doing to get by with smaller staffs and fewer hours.

    Our paper has shifted from running around to a ton to gamers, to a solid mix of features, issue-driven stories and gamers. Now, instead of driving all over town trying to fit doubleheaders into a tight schedule, it's hitting the phones for an hour in the afternoon and heading out to a game that night. We've heard some gripes about not being everywhere, but even when we were covering a ton of games we heard that. The new format seems to have brought a better balance to the section and is attracting a broader base of readers.

    It's amazing how you can fill the same size spot, with a clever graphic and a few phone calls in about half the time it would take to catch a game and write it up.

    So what's everyone else doing???
     
  2. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Active Member

    Another nice one we've been doing for a long time is our College Corner feature...spend about a half-hour online tracking how local graduates are faring in college. Write up a quick tidbit about a handful of athletes and it makes for one of our most read features and it fills a good chunk on an inside page. College some mug shots or logos and it adds in some easy art.
     
  3. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Took a job where the primary qualification is "willing to live in a place so remote and cold that no normal human being would accept this job," thus lowering the expectations quite a bit from my employers.
     
  4. House

    House Member

    We're not doing more with less. We're doing less with less. That's how it works.

    Coach: Where were you guys? You missed a hell of a game.
    Me: We missed about 17 others because we only have two writers. Don't think that you're special.
     
  5. wicked

    wicked Well-Known Member

    I still wonder how you can develop relationships with sources needed to put together trend stories when you've never met these guys once, never mind cover a game. It may work for the guy who has been at the paper for 10 years and has a rolodex, but once he gets laid off ...
     
  6. bmm

    bmm Member

    We've been cut back to the bone for most of this decade, so this downturn has only affected us by seven furlough days. Basically given what we have, we do mostly roundups of the secondary school sports, a football feature and preview each week and then blow out high school football. It's really hard to do more. Fortunately, I have a couple of good stringers who give a hand but I have a limited budget for them.
     
  7. After reading this from flexmaster3... "Our paper has shifted from running around to a ton to gamers, to a solid mix of features, issue-driven stories and gamers. Now, instead of driving all over town trying to fit doubleheaders into a tight schedule, it's hitting the phones for an hour in the afternoon and heading out to a game that night. We've heard some gripes about not being everywhere, but even when we were covering a ton of games we heard that. The new format seems to have brought a better balance to the section and is attracting a broader base of readers."
    ... I'm wondering: Did the cuts that have hit us so hard also have one positive; did they force us to make decisions that should have been made long ago?
     
  8. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I guess it would depend on the market -- what people are accustomed to and whether you have any competition. When I covered preps in the late 1970s and into 1980, we had a large local news hole and most days I stayed in the office and banged out three 12-inch short features or newsers and wrote a few roundups. The boss wanted that because I could generate more copy than if I were at a game, and I do think you can interact with more sources if you work the phones, although you also need to get out a couple times a week. But I heard a lot of "why weren't you at our game?" -- especially if the competition was there. And the competition often was. Our way was the most efficient use of manpower, but I do not think it was the best use from the readers' perspective.
     
  9. CarltonBanks

    CarltonBanks New Member

    What I was told last week:
    "Use more stringers. We need more local."
    This coming after, about four months ago, I was told
    "We had to cut your stringer budget 15 percent across the board."

    Ahhhhh...I love this business.
     
  10. FishHack76

    FishHack76 Active Member

    That's kind of like someone saying, "Here, you're going to bat against Tim Lincecum, and we're giving you a toothpick instead of a bat."
     
  11. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Active Member

    yes, in our case at least...it's been better all around...although you get some grumbling about not being at everyone's game, but I think you get that no matter what you're doing.
     
  12. Wait, we're hiring?
     
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