Northern California Home Sales Hit a 20-Year Low

The housing bubble has burst in Northern California.

September homes sales in Northern California sunk to their lowest level in two decades as mortgages became harder to get, a real estate research firm said Thursday.
A total of 5,014 new and resale homes and condos were sold last month in nine San Francisco Bay area counties — a 40 percent decrease from the same period a year ago, according to DataQuick Information Systems.

Sad Future for this Journalist — He Finally Sees the Future

Is it Time to Quit This Disappointing Paper? Or Is it Time to Quit The Entire Industry?

“Oh, and the pay is lousy. I made more money waiting tables.”

Mick Gregory

This is another chapter in a series of sad stories from disenchanted journalists as they look at their careers and it dawns on them, “This ain’t going to get any better, is it?”

Mr. Grimm, a Gannett editor recruiter gets these. Some of the letters, I suspect, are coming from reporters who have hopes of getting out of their personal hell hole and joining Gannett. Then they really don’t get it do they? Any Gannetters want to give the shmuck some advice?

Q. I graduated with a bachelor’s in journalism in May at 30. I had worked odd jobs and even owned two pet stores before getting married and deciding to go college.

I was editor of my college newspaper, where I was featured on Romenesko a few times. I won both the Hearst Award and a Scripps-Howard scholarship, the latter naming me one of the top-10 college journalists in the country. I graduated top of my class with all the kudos you would expect.

My future seemed bright, and the stories I wrote during this period, the ones which earned me respect, were in the form of lengthy, deeply narrative, literary journalism. I saw myself becoming the next Charlie LeDuff of New York Times fame, embedding myself into the lives of others and then telling their stories with passion and care.

Then I entered the “professional” world of journalism.

I’ve been at a daily with a circulation of 30,000 for three months, and I’m going through the toughest time of my life. My beat is enormous because the paper employs six journalists to cover nearly a third of a state, and we are expected not to have any overtime. So, I cram 60 hours worth of work into 40 hours. I’ve never been a hard-news junkie, so cops, courts, city councils and so on are new to me and bland. With my workload, it is hard to educate myself on what I now realize is typically the focus of a daily.

This week, I’ve barely eaten, and all my free head space is filled with dread and doubt. My wife is worried about me. I have student loans looming. I must earn a living, I hate this job. I feel overwhelmed at every turn, and worst of all, I worry I have painted myself into a corner by striving so hard to be good at something no one will hire me to do.

I’m thinking about going back to school to change careers.
Continue reading

Journalism — not just for the ‘professionals’ any longer. Was it ever?

By Mick Gregory

Instead of a lecture from a biased liberal reporter who dropped out of college, citizen journalists create conversation. How often have you heard liberals attacking Dr Laura Schlessinger‘s credintials?

How about the credentials of your everyday journalist hack?

Peter Jennings didn’t go to college. Come to think of it, how about Dan Rather? I believe he attended Sam Houston State. Not much bragging about that.

Those are liberals, that’s why you don’t hear about their lack of education.

Michael Savage has multiple degrees including a doctorate. Bill O’Reilly has a BA and Master’s Degree. You don’t read much about that in the mainstream media.

Journalism is no longer a career left just to the “professionals,” author and media entrepreneur Dan Gillmor said Tuesday at ASU.

Gillmor, founder of “the Gillmor Gang” and the Citizen Media Law Project with Harvard University and the University of California-Berkeley, said journalism is shifting as digital technology allows readers to become spot-news reporters.

“We can all be media creators now,” Gillmor said. “With everyone walking around with a digital camera in their cell phone, it changes things.”

He pointed to the recent bridge collapse in Minnesota for an example.

Gillmor said many people fled the scene in the moments after the collapse Aug. 2. But others pulled out their cell phone cameras and ran toward the catastrophe to take pictures.

“That person did what I like to call a random act of journalism,” Gillmor said. “Professional journalists or not, all of us will have a chance to do these random acts at some point.”

He said digital technology has empowered citizens to document some of the most historic events in recent years. Flight passengers on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, made phone calls and sent text messages minutes before crashing in the World Trade Center.

“Just imagine if they had the technology to send video from inside the plane,” Gillmor said.

He also said the authentic sound of gunshots fired on the Virginia Tech campus were captured by a student recording with a cell phone.

“The change in media is fast and amazing,” Gillmor said.
Should citizens sit on their hands and wait for the “professional journalistis?”

He said the process and order of print journalism has already changed. Newspapers that used to hit driveways once a day now publish minute-by-minute reports online. And he said citizen or community journalists are furthering this change, with major contributions.

Gillmor defines citizen journalists as everyday people who serve as their own reporters and contribute to traditional news by setting up Web sites and capturing videos or pictures of newsworthy events.

The emergence of citizen media is transforming news from lecture to conversation, Gillmor said. Internet, cell phones, digital cameras and immediate access to computerized tools are transforming how, and by whom, news is made and consumed.

“The question we should be asking is not so much who is the journalist anymore, but more so, what is journalism?” Gillmor said.

Many of us are questioning why journalists are considered professionals? Are bus drivers and garbage collectors professionals?

Grimm Fairy Tales for Journalism Students

By Mick Gregory

I am fascinated by the deluded, foggy, liberal idealists who wasted their parents’ hard earned savings on “J-school” degrees. Here is another reporter/journalist candidate who wrote in to “Brother (Joe) Grimm” (His real name) at the Poynter Institute.

I don’t have to comment on this entry. Read for yourself what this sad young bastard is doing. Working for free at such low level papers as a 9,000 weekly; a fry cook at IHOP has more prestige and a lot better pay.

How Can Internship No. 4 Help Me?
I know that everybody does it, but I can’t resist thanking you for running your column.

I’m a rising senior in political science doing my third internship, and the odds look good for a fourth one in the fall. Three or four internships sound good, but I have doubts about how editors will feel about these internships when it comes time to apply for a job.

Internship number one was at a 9,000-circulation daily in Pennsylvania, 40 hours per week, unpaid. I wrote an average of three or four stories a week, and did grunt-work otherwise. It was a great introduction to professional journalism, and I got a top-notch evaluation.

Number two was at a 27,000 or so circulation daily in Massachusetts, 10 hours per week (during a school semester), unpaid. I wrote one or two stories a week, and once again, great evaluation.

Number three is at a daily of about 18,000 circulation in New York, 18 hours per week, unpaid. I’m writing about four or five stories each week, and I feel like I’m really being challenged and being kept busy. I feel like the editors like my work and that I’ll get a good evaluation.

And if number four happens, it’ll be at a 100,000 circulation daily in New York, 8 hours a week, unpaid.

I also recently founded, and am the editor-in-chief of, my college’s online-only newspaper.

So, my fear is that these newspapers are too small for an editor to appreciate. I certainly appreciate them, and in fact, I feel like I had a lot more hands-on experience at them than I would have had at much larger newspapers. But I’m not the one whose opinion ultimately matters on that.

Is my fear well-grounded? And, if so, how can I increase my chances of getting a good job?

Thanks,

Timothy

The number of internships is fine, as they are all coming before you graduate. Three or four post-grad internships — now that could be a problem.

The pattern you have raises three issues, but all can be cured if your next internship is a good one. The first issue is that most of your internships have been for fewer than 20 hours a week, and the trend has been toward shorter and shorter ones.

Joe Grimm
The next problem is related: The size of the companies you work for goes up and down.

And the third problem is that no one has paid you yet. Certainly, you feel that pain. And it is a testament to your tenacity that you work for free. But we need to get someone at a solid daily — it need not be huge — to hire you for a full-time, paid internship. Ten hours a week just isn’t nearly as intense or impressive as full-time.

And while you have worked hard at your internships, the idea that interns at large newspapers are somehow sitting around waiting to deliver coffee and sandwiches — or merely observing — is pretty much urban folklore. They’re working, and their clips prove it.

Take the initiative you have shown in founding an online publication, and use those qualities to try to get a good internship where your online awareness could benefit the newspaper. It might ensure that your fourth internship is the launching pad you need. — Mr. Grimm.

How about internship No. 5 or 6?

Isn’t it a lie to call unpaid “gofor” positions interns? What kind of corporate shill are you?
Mr. Grimm, have you no shame?

Grim future for Journo with 25 years in the newspaper business

By Mick Gregory

The Dead End Career Realization.

A long-in-the-tooth journalist just wrote a newspaper recruiter with an unfortunate moniker — Joe Grimm — who writes a column at the Poynter Institute. Don’t believe me? Google Joe Grimm.

Is Age Hurting My Job Search?
You think? More than that, it’s the salary you think you deserve. You should know newspapers still have a stream of ambitious, gullible, journalism (J-school) graduates who just spent their parents’ nest egg on a very worthless degree, and are willing to work for $10 an hour. In fact, interns are willing to work for free.

I’m looking at a great 25-year career with honors and a dead end as far as job prospects. In a narrowly focused newsroom field, I’ve got more experience than most candidates, and I’ve got a resume to match, yet for the past two years (I’m temporarily out of the newsroom), I’ve been unable to land a top-level management job. Holding out for management?

Most recently, I was assured that I’d “be back” soon following a great interview process, only to be called weeks later — by the recruiter, not the editor — to say they had chosen someone with more experience … a stretch, since I was aware of the other candidates.

So tell me. Is it age? Or being out of the newsroom? In searching for answers, I’ve asked for feedback from editors, one of whom replied that it’s all about fit. Others didn’t respond. Take a look in the mirror; is that a comb-over? How much exercise have you been getting, chunky?

Is it me? I’m thinking that professional etiquette would at least be paid from one manager to another, even if one is a candidate. And certainly the decency of a telephone call or a response.

In our profession (he thinks journalism is a profession!) as communicators, it seems we are the great mis-communicators. Or perhaps, as has happened to many strong newsroom voices, I’ve become one of those led out to pasture.

So, Mr. Grimm… what’s your recommendation? Do I simply resign myself to having reaped the best years and sit quietly in the meadow? Or do I continue to apply for everything that comes up and risk the chance of being “one of those …”?

Need your advice.

Thanks,

Stuck…

Grimm’s answer: Of course, I can’t tell you what the problem is on the basis of your well-written note, but I can give you some things to think about.

First of all, if age is the issue, no one who wants to stay out of court will tell you that. It likely is a lot more complicated than a straight age issue, though, as it sounds like you have a lot of working years in front of you.

Employers will seldom get real honest with unsuccessful job candidates unless they see them as well-suited for another job down the road. Explanations can be awkward and time-consuming, and they often lead to defensive arguments from candidates who feel they are being attacked at a time when they are vulnerable.

The person who gave you the vague answer about “fit” may be the closest you have come to the truth. “Fit” usually refers to a personality mismatch and may refer to qualities such as outgoingness, aggressiveness, entrepreneurial skills and a host of other characteristics.

Talk to former employers and other colleagues — people who know you well and who will be honest with you. It is too soon for you to give up.

Fellow bloggers, what kind of advice would you give “Stuck”?

My advice is, “start practicing this line in a mirror, ‘you would look great behind the wheel of this cream puff Honda Civic!'”

Stuck, I have a question for you. With 25 years in the biz, you may well have a child about to enter college. Would you encourage your son or daughter to pursue a degree in print or any other mainstream media?