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Writing 'free' for our newspaper... what the hell?!?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by exmediahack, Nov 14, 2009.

  1. exmediahack

    exmediahack Well-Known Member

    Hey all,

    Hope you are all doing great.

    I happen to work at a TV/newspaper partnership. Over the past year, we have gotten 'closer', in sharing resources. I'm all for saving costs where we can put has anyone else seen this:

    - I am primarily a broadcaster but I also shoot my own news stories quite often. I'm fine with this and have done it for years. However, now I am also given a still camera and told to crank out 12-14 inches, usually on 2-3 stories for Saturday and 2 stories for Sunday.

    Of course, I'm not paid at all for this. It is 'part of my duties'. Hate to say it but, after a 10 or 11 hour day, the last thing I'm fired up for is to craft two stories for the paper, especially knowing it is, essentially, pro bono.

    Is 'free labor' the only way newspapers are going to make it?
  2. Welcome to the club.
    We print types started working for free when we were given the opportunity to blog.
    "Just a couple of graphs that tell the rest of the story. Or maybe relate it to something in your own life. We're really not sure. But have fun with it."
    In many cases, they're still not sure what they want. And don't want.
    But we've all had so much fun, we now Tweet about our blogs, and blog about our stories.
    If we're really fortunate, we get to do a 60-second standup video report after we tweet and blog, but before we do what used to be Job 1: write a story.
    We'd still be waiting for the compensation, but it has evolved to where we do all the extra to keep our jobs.
  3. Cosmo

    Cosmo Well-Known Member

    The job has evolved people. Yeah, I blog, I tweet, I do all that shit and I fit it in the confines of my eight-hour work day. Some of the other duties I used to have to deal with -- working phones, helping out with preps -- have been delegated somewhere else. I just don't get this idea that you should be compensated extra for blogging, etc. It's just part of the work for the company that writes your paychecks. It's still writing, just for a different medium.
  4. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    That's fine, as long as you're fitting it in your 8-hour day. From what exmediahack's describing, he's working 10-11 hours (and hopefully getting paid for them, though I doubt it), and now his company is giving him work for another one of their businesses, which will increase his hours more, and not paying him for it. That's illegal (unless you're in management or something to that effect).

    If they reduce his duties elsewhere, then I can see why the company wants him to do some newspaper work. Somehow, gathering from his post, I don't think that's happening.
  5. Babs

    Babs Member

    Not illegal unless you are paid hourly and thus eligible for overtime. If you're on salary, they can add more responsibilities regardless of time.
  6. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    But there has to be some caveat in terms of making sure the added duty is reasonable and able to fit into your work schedule. Otherwise, they could just add ludicrous things, like "solve global warming" and "bring back a handful of dirt from Mars" to your job description. I think that's what people are objecting to in this thread - The blogging and video are added on top of other duties that aren't scaled back appropriately.
  7. Babs

    Babs Member

    I'm not saying it isn't ludicrous. Just that it's not illegal.
  8. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Did you read what I wrote after "That's illegal?"

    If you're management, odds are that you aren't hourly. "Something to that effect", I meant to mean that if you had a contract spelling out your salary (in which case, I would also hope would spell out your job duties, although management gets around that by saying 'Other duties as needed').
  9. Babs

    Babs Member

    You can't take a case to court saying "that's not in my job description" because those aren't binding. Contracts rarely include actual job duties -- the company would be stupid to include them since they are fluid.

    I read what you wrote, but I don't think there's anything to latch onto there.
  10. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    If you are hourly, they're supposed to pay you time-and-a-half after 40 hours. Keep good records and track of your work, and if they don't pay you for that extra time, you can sue them and win.

    If you are management, you're screwed.

    And job descriptions are important. You can't assign a hospital janitor duties as a surgeon.

    Years ago, I worked as a low-level employee of a hotel. One day, several patrons got rowdy and were letting in their friends in through the back door so they could party. I went and told the manager.

    Manager asked, "Why didn't you stop them?"

    Me: "Because I'm not a security guard, and I'm not trained to be a security guard."

    The manager was pissed at me. But, since I had given my notice already to go back to school, there was nothing he could do.

    My argument would have been exactly what I told the manager. Suppose one of those patrons hits me? The hotel could claim that I was doing something that wasn't in my job description and not pay for my bills.
  11. Cosmo

    Cosmo Well-Known Member

    I was more responding the jrcsurvivor's post rather than exmediahack's.
  12. EagleMorph

    EagleMorph Member

    Anyone expecting to be a full time journalist and work only 40 hours a week is out of their mind.
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