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.

Progressive Democrats set stage to bring back ‘The Fairness Doctrine’

The Orwellian “Fairness Doctrine” is  about to be forced on America by the Democratic party. 

It is a throw back to FDR when Democrats (America’s socialists) were in complete power in the government and the Fairnes Doctrine is anything but fair. Look for a name change here. 

reagan_right_OBEY

President Reagan ended the “Fairness Doctrine”

 

As heard on the Bill Press Radio Show on Thursday, February 5, 2009:

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) spoke with Bill about the possible return of the Fairness Doctrine in some form.

BILL PRESS: So, is it time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine?

SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI): I think it’s absolutely time to pass a standard. Now, whether it’s called the Fairness Standard, whether it’s called something else — I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves. I mean, our new president has talked rightly about accountability and transparency. You know, that we all have to step up and be responsible. And, I think in this case, there needs to be some accountability and standards put in place.

BILL PRESS: Can we count on you to push for some hearings in the United States Senate this year, to bring these owners in and hold them accountable?

SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI): I have already had some discussions with colleagues and, you know, I feel like that’s gonna happen. Yep.

Informant found shot to death in his home before he could testify.

An informant in the Dallas suburb of Plano who threatened to out police officers and members of the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints  was found shot to death in his home this morning (June 5), making him the second steroid dealer/informant killed this year before he could testify against law enforcement. Reported Jason Trahan at the Dallas News (“Convicted steroid dealer David Jacobs found dead in Plano home,” June 5)

Convicted steroids dealer David Jacobs, who recently agreed to tell the NFL which football players received banned substances he manufactured, was found dead in his Plano home this morning.

The body of a woman identified as Amanda Jo Earhart-Savell, 30, and a gun were also found at the home.

About 11:30 a.m., four men in ski masks and raid jackets with “police” on the back — indicating they may be undercover narcotics officers — arrived at the busy scene and entered the home with a cart to carry documents.

The Dallas Morning News spoke to Mr. Jacobs frequently and exchanged e-mails with him as recently as this weekend. He was interested in getting on with his life after accepting a plea deal for three years of probation on charges related to his steroids trafficking.

Mr. Jacobs said he wanted to rebuild his nutritional supplement business, but he was having trouble getting his old client base to work with him. He also was having financial problems, but the former Marine seemed to be in good spirits.

Jacobs claimed to have sold steroids to officers from the Garland, Richardson, Dallas, Arlington, and Plano police departments as well as to members of the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints.

Why didn’t he just hang himself like the DC madam and one of her escorts?

Will the FBI be called in? He was just a disgruntled drug dealer. Maybe he made his suicide look like murder?

One out of four to be cut from the San Francisco Chronicle news department

Managing Editor “Steps Down” (Really, I didn’t know he was standing on a higher plane than the rest of us? Perhaps an ivory tower?)

Mick Gregory

The Chronicle will cut 25 percent of its newsroom staff in the next month.

“This is one of the biggest one-time hits we’ve heard about anywhere in the country,” said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, in Washington.

Not so rosey for the Fourth Estate.

Managing Editor Robert Rosenthal will be leaving The Chronicle after nearly five years at the newspaper.

In a note to the newsroom staff, Rosenthal (known as Rosey to the elite editors) said he was departing “without rancor or acrimony.” (That’s redundant. But it sounds very intelligent. Wouldn’t you say that Rosey had a rather elevated view of himself?) He said he is not sure what he will be doing next but “I hope to help another organization grow and another group of talented people find success.”

(Rosey, the readership of The Chronicle sank dramatically during your 4.5 years. And you laughed over Manhattens with Phil, as scores of Chronicle employees in Marketing Communications, Creative and Advertising lost their jobs. You hadn’t built anything, but your bar tab at the “M.” )

I think it’s time where the skills we have as journalists can be applied in a different way. The business model for newspapers is clearly broken,” Rosey.

No, Rosey. You don’t know the first thing about business. The business model was thrown out the fifth floor window of The Chronicle when Hearst allowed Phil Bronstein and other hack copy editors run the entire enterprise.

In fact, here is an editor’s idea of a motivational pep talk at the neighboring Mercury News:
Apparently responding to a report that the Mercury News plans to cut 60 newsroom positions, executive editor Carole Leigh Hutton tells her staff that “we’re in the midst of a difficult budget season for the fiscal year that begins in July. We’re discussing a number of cost-cutting measures. As soon as I can give you some definitive plans, I will. Meanwhile, I hope we can focus some of that energy on doing the journalism we do so well.”

Just two weeks ago, the paper revealed a coming 25 percent reduction in newsroom staffing.

Eighty reporters, photographers, copy editors and others, as well as 20 employees in management positions will be joining Rosey by end of the summer. Chronicle Publisher Frank Vega (nicknamed “Darth Vega”) said Friday that voluntary buyouts are likely to be offered.

Dozens of The Chronicle’s marketing, creative, special section writers, sales and production departments have been reduced during the past few years, but until now the newsroom “elite” have been spared deep cuts.

One has to ask, how much is Phil Bronstein (the last husband of Sharon Stone) worth? Do you think Phil saw his own shadow?

Now it’s going to be one out of four hitting the cold, windy streets of San Francisco.

Michael Savage reported the self-serving article written by a reporter waiting for the “buyout” papers.
Savage has a keen mind and can zero in on the problem, it’s the leftist mindset, with American and family values mocked and slammed on a daily basis by the “journalists” that is the main problem for The Chronicle’s demise.

They were the cheerleaders for Cindy Sheehan, who just last year, was in photos with Hugo Chavez as they both denounced the USA. But the top of the Democrat machine pulled the plug on Sheehan’s wages. They said, “Good Riddance Attention Whore.”

The Chronicle newsroom didn’t get the memo in time. Now they were to turn on Sheehan. Watch, a little late, but they will now.

Advertisers are middle class entrepreneurs, not socialists. Advertisers and readers have many more options available. The monopoly is over.

“I can’t wait to see if the Hearst inheritance cases will get rid of the thing (Bronstein) in these cuts,” Savage said Tuesday evening.

Oh, the tales that are being slurred in the Guiness foam at the corner pub tonight. Pour me another, brother!

Stop the Press Club–Please!

Mick Gregory

Dallas Press Club slashes expenses, gives up rental space. This, in a one newspaper town.

This is the state of the press in 2007.

I was once a member of the Dallas Press Club, in my twenties. That’s when Dallas had a newspaper war going on between Times Mirror’s Dallas Times Herald and the Belo Dallas Morning News. Molly Ivans would make an appearance at meetings as well as U.S. Senators and celebrities.

Today, it’s on par with a Salvation Army drop off store front.

The active members of the Press Club of Dallas are trying to save their disgraced group after the former president apparently falsified the results of the club’s signature awards program and mismanaged her club-issued credit card on luxury items.

Four vacant board seats were filled — some by spirit-of-the-moment volunteers — with hopeful members stepping up to keep the club running.

Tom Stewart, now the club president, said the future of the annual Katie Awards and the club itself remains uncertain. The group was given three choices: Let the club slowly die, disband it immediately or drastically reduce expenses to buy time until the annual meeting in August.

Of the $5,500 a month it takes to operate the club, they voted to eliminate at least $4,000 in monthly operating expenses, including its rental space at the Women’s Museum in Fair Park. The Press Club Foundation, which supports the club and benefits from the Katies program, terminated its $4,000-a-month stipend to the club in February.

In an April 14 interview with the Dallas Business Journal, former club president Lisa “Elizabeth” Albanese, 41, said she didn’t have records detailing the judges from past-years’ Katies because she failed to keep the records and switched computers. She then said she would be able to reconstruct a judges’ list.

She couldn’t be reached for comment by a Dallas Business Journal reporter.

Albanese won all four Katies for which she was nominated in 2006, including for best business news story, best business feature story, best specialty reporting and best investigative reporting for a major-market newspaper. She won 10 Katies over the last four years, and began coordinating the judging in 2003.

No former boss of Albanese’s has alleged that she plagiarized or fabricated sources for her stories.

The Katie Awards rank among the most coveted in Texas, drawing contestants from six states who hope to be honored as the best in journalism and mass communications.

Albanese spent seven years at The Bond Buyer, a New York-based municipal bond newspaper, and recently became a vice president at First Southwest Co., a financial advisory firm, which she often wrote about as a journalist. She was fired by Dallas-based First Southwest after criminal allegations from her past surfaced.

News bytes by Lauren D’Avolio

Major Brand Survey Shows Citgo Crashing

By Mick Gregory

What the mainstream news either can’t or will not provide. The cost of this oil industry report is $150. That’s about how much a reporter costs a day following Hillary and Obama around.
Where are the followup stories on Citgo? Why not report on why 7-Eleven, Circle K and Petro Express dropped Citgo? Have they lost 3,000 or is it closer to 5,000 locations?

More than 90 brands were ranked in this year’s Brand Power rankings including Mobil, Exxon, Stewarts, Marathon Ashland, Citgo, Cenex, Sunoco, Rotten Robbie, BJ’s, USA Petroleum, Safeway, Phillips 66, Sinclair, Kum & Go, Aloha, RaceTrac, Admiral, Home Depot, Caseys, Speedway, Kwik Trip, PDQ, Irving, Tesoro, Rutters, Gas America, Gate, Mapco, Getty, Gulf, Circle K, Weigel and more.

The Oil Price Information Service (OPIS), the leading authority on wholesale and retail gas prices in the U.S., has put together the most comprehensive scorecard on the entire retail petroleum landscape. The OPIS Retail Year in Review and 2007 Profit Outlook is a must-have 125 page almanac for anyone involved in the downstream petroleum industry.

The report includes the annual OPIS Brand Power results, a ranking system based on how much of a premium one brand is able to extract against its direct competition at the pump.

On a national basis Chevron proved to be king for the third straight year. The average Chevron station was able to charge 2.15cts/gal more than its competition. Shell was second followed by Lukoil, BP, Texaco, Fina, Mobil, Exxon, 76 and Pure.

At the opposite end of the spectrum was Arco which priced its pumps nearly 10cts/gal below its competitors. The Arco discount was more substantial than Costco, Sam’s and BJ’s, the three largest wholesale clubs in the country. Most of Arco’s business is company operated or dealer tankwagon, but if measured against local racks, Arco sites fetched very low implied margins.

On a regional basis, top honors continued to go to major flags except one region.

New England: Texaco was the most powerful player with the average station pricing 3.1cts/gal above its competitors. Shell was next followed by Mobil, Exxon and Sunoco.
Hess was the most aggressive in the region, even more aggressive than supermarket chain Stop & Shop.
Mid-Atlantic: Shell, Mobil, Lukoil, and Exxon were in the top four, while Wawa, Xtra Fuel, Delta Sonic, Royal Farms and Kroger were in the bottom five.
Southeast: Chevron was also a regional winner in the Southeast. The more aggressive stations in the region included Flying J, Costco, Liberty , Sam’s and Sheetz which recently opened some sites in North Carolina.
Great Lakes : It was independent brands in this region that took the top 2 spots. Gas City and Fast Stop were best in the region which were comprised of Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Flying J, Meijer, Wal-Mart, Murphy USA, Thornton Oil, and Kroger were ranked as some of the chains with the lowest pump prices.
Midwest : BP took the top spot in the Midwest which also saw Valero and Fina crack the Top five. The top 5 most aggressive brands included Murphy USA, Quik Trip, Kwik Shop, Mirastar and 7-Eleven.
Southwest: The 76 flag was tops in the Southwest. The most aggressive supermarket in the region was Kroger followed by Albertsons, HEB and Safeway. The data also indicates that Costco priced more aggressively than Sam’s by about 3 cts/gal.
Rockies: Chevron once again obtained a regional championship and Conoco cracked a regional top-five for the first time this year. Sam’s Costco, Mirastar, King Soopers, Flying J, and Maverik were the most aggressive sites in the region.
West Coast: Texaco was number one in the West Coast followed by Chevron. Costco and Arco were the two cheapest pricing brands on the Pacific.
In addition, the report takes an in-depth look at profit margins on a national, regional and market-by-market basis. It reveals the six annual trends in the market, (the winter high, winter sell-off, Petronoia rally, Petronoia ebb-tide, demand/storm rally and the autumnal collapse) and examines how each market in the eight regions of the country reacted to those trends.

It is clear to industry analysts that Citgo is in its last months as a brand. Not even Joe Kennedy shilling for Hugo Chavez’ brand, can help stem the market losses.

Why don’t your major newspaper business sections cover this subject?