Interview and job hunting tips for journalists

Mick Gregory at Large

More stories from journalists who are surprised that they have been let go.

“After 17 years as a staff photographer, I was laid off via phone call on August 1st while on vacation. A lousy phone call. Does it get any more classless than that? Ok, what the Chicago Sun Times did to their photo staff gets a really special prize. Still, I thought/hoped my work would speak for me. No explanation other than the standard corporate spiel was given: “Due to reduction in staff, your job has been impacted by that… Here’s the HR rep.”

And that was that. It leaves you reeling and your head swirling with unanswered questions with no answers. I wasn’t the last hired, I’m not the oldest, I hadn’t been there the longest, I didn’t have the highest salary. I have no dependents costing the company extra money. I won awards (was even nominated for a Pulitzer), mentored students and interns, worked well with co-workers and do have tremendous ties to this community.

The past few years to ‘that’ phone call I received, work was pretty much a living hell as I witnessed the destruction of a pretty darn good newspaper (The Clarion-Ledger/ Jackson, Ms.) by people who didn’t want to be there, resented being there, had no ties to the community and didn’t want any.

When ‘it’ happens, it hurts, angers and stuns. I’m not sure what the reporter is going for with his story. But will it be any different from any other painful story? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

It’s truly is a hellish thing to be my age (55) and not have a steady income. Tell him that the myriad of paperwork involved in one’s “separation” is daunting, frustrating and seemingly endless. Tell him how frightening it is to be my age and not have health care. I know there are hundreds rowing this same boat with me… or, worse. Jim, mention those same things and apply it to job hunting, especially in this economy, in a market saturated with those same rowers stroking against a strong current. You try not to despair.” — John Dough

Amy Miller writes:

I know many excellent reporters and photographers being laid off, and while it makes for sad, depressing copy, as a reporter, what I really want to read is a thorough, in-depth analysis of the decisions a company such as Gannett has made since the advent of the Internet, especially continued raises to the top brass while continuing to slash resources at local newspapers almost to the point of nonfunctionality. Just ask anyone about Gannett’s ill-fated “Real Life Real News” strategy around 2004, when it blamed declining readership on too much hard news. It’s time to hold these news companies accountable for the regrettable and self-interested business decisions that have helped dismantle the news business and not just lay all the blame on Internet and Craigslist. While the Internet and smartphones are certainly the most disruptive factors at play, they cannot and are not the only reasons for the decline of the news business. Let’s chronicle the real tragedy: the news business itself.

Detroit Metro Times veteran Curt Guyette writes on Facebook:

After 18 years on the job, I was fired from the Metro Times on Friday. Earlier in the week we’d been told that the paper was being put up for sale, and that the information was being put on the Times-Shamrock website as we spoke, but that staff were prohibited from talking to any media about it, because the company wanted to “control” the message.

I ignored the order, and was “terminated” for “gross insubordination” and “breach of company trust.” No dispute about the insubordination; as for the breach of trust, that cuts both ways. Not sure what the future holds, but after reflecting on the situation for a few days I can say that I am relieved to be gone. The MT, for me anyway, had become a soul-killing place, and I’m happy that I’m no longer there. And now a new chapter in my life begins. Life is good.

He added this to his Facebook wall:

One thing needs to be made absolutely clear: I’ve got no gripe with the MT for firing me. My anger/resentment/disappointment/profound sorrow is reserved for what this paper I’ve been so proud of the past 18 years has become. Would I have liked to have gone out differently? Definitely. But am I sad to be gone? Not an iota. Like I said to one of my former workpals just after I got the boot, “At least there was no electroshock or forced lobotomy.” Life is good. And its going to get even better. So don’t anyone say they feel sorry for me, or that they’re sad. This is a life-changing event, that’s for sure. But just as certain is the fact that the road ahead leads to a better place.

Millions have fallen into the lower class and depend on the government for food stamps, the “Earned Income Tax Credit,” and free cell phones. It’s an historic shift that may never be reported accurately by the mainstream media. Careers are shattered, especially for Baby Boomers and the original Gen Xers. If you only read the mainstream media (MSM), you could convince yourself to jump on the food stamp gravy train. It is looking more and more attractive, especially when you can get free SmartPhones and service like millions are in Ohio and other spots in the North East. That is not a positive.

If you have been one of the highly skilled journalists or marketing professionals in major media. Your time is up.

Gannett, owner of 82 daily newspapers and 23 television stations, confirmed Tuesday that some of its local papers have cut staff over the last several weeks.

“Some of our community publishing sites are making cuts to align their business plans with local market conditions,” company spokesman Jeremy Gaines said in a statement.

The layoffs, totaling about a couple of hundred jobs, were revealed at many of the company’s local newspapers over the last 30 days. Jobs were cut both in newsrooms and business operations. Gannett also publishes USA TODAY, which has not been affected by the layoffs.

Gannett did not provide totals for the cutbacks at individual properties. Philly.com reported Monday that The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal is cutting 28 jobs.

Cutbacks have been a frequent phenomenon at newspapers in the digital era as readers and advertisers have gravitated to computers and mobile devices. Gannett’s newsrooms, like many others, have increased their investment in digital operations as part of the company’s transformation strategy in an effort to depend less on print revenue.

In June, Gannett bought competitor Belo for $2.2 billion, which would increase its broadcast portfolio from 23 to 43 stations. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

Let’s get back to focusing on what is in your control. My friends in glass towers, though very productive and focused on the here and now, and gainfully employed, are always on a job hunt now. They are on the hunt every day, like tiger sharks. Some large businesses still use the infamous Enron practice of rank and yank. Many hire consultants to justify a major reorg. Most of us have survived rounds of right sizing.

Do your own business plan and stakeholder engagement analysis. Keep educating yourself and mentoring others. Build up a network of trusted friends and stay in contact with your friends and mentors from college and your first jobs.

All I am saying is remember the Boy & Girl Scouts’ code, “Be Prepared.”

Start the hunt with some of these tips:

Career sites: Linkedin.com, Twitter.com, WordPress.com, Indeed.com  and BrazenCareerist.

I like LinkedIn, let’s start there. Set up your profile from your resume. Once you are have that first draft finished, search for friends in your line of business and from college. Connect with them and see how they have written their profiles. Give a former employee or boss a good reference. Look at Groups. You will be amazed at the depth chart of Groups here. It’s networking made easy.

Brazen Careerist delivers candid, timely advice on all aspects of job hunting and success. Some recent blogs cover How to become the go-to guy (or gal), Tips to impress your interviewer and Five reasons recruiters aren’t giving you the  time of day.

WordPress is the site that I used to publish this blog. It has amazing features. Premium upgrades are very reasonable. You become your own web guru. Your friends may laugh when you tell them you blog and have a website, but when they visit your WordPress site, they should be very impressed if you have practiced a bit on the templates.

Twitter used to be the exclusive IM for journalists, I’m serious. We used to chat online about current events and helped each other out on sources and followup stories. Then Twitter went viral. My teenage daughter showed me some very funny hashtag (#) subjects, such as #thingsgirlssay; I just bit into an amazing peach, is one that cracks me up. Yes, my daughter said that. Men, try that line at the water cooler.

Indeed.com is the career site that will deliver to your email, company openings that you sign up for. Every morning I have interesting job descriptions from BP, ExxonMobil, Halliburton, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, and Anadarko.

Even though I am very happily employed and making an impact in an exciting career that I have been fine-tuning my whole life, I must keep on moving, not unlike a shark.

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