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.

Arnold Schwarzenegger describes California state workers’ million dollar benefits

The moderate Republican governor of California, “Arnold” has an above the fold opinion piece in the Aug. 27, 2010 Wall Street Journal describing the shocking hold state employee unions have on the Golden State’s taxpayers. 

A graph looks shows 1,200,000 private enterprise jobs lost in CA while the high paying state employee ranks have lost close to zero from 2008 to 2010.

“Few Californians in the private sector have $1 million in savings, but that’s effectively the retirement account they guarantee to many government employees,” said Schwarzenegger on a report from the California Department of Finance. 

Former mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown, (Democrat), said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this year that approximately 80 percent of every government dollar goes to employee compensation and benefits. 

Can you imagine the awakening the poor working stiffs in the news media may have when they realize that the liberal one party system they have supported through the years is what set in place the system in California of paying out 100 percent salaries to state workers after 20 years of service. 

Meanwhile, hundreds of loyal journalists who worked 10- and 12-hour days for 30 years face early retirement with pay outs half that of Wal-Mart part-time workers.

Will the media report that?  

Instead, the governor is being lambasted in the media for bullying state employees to cut back on their gold-plated benefits paid for by taxpayers.

“For years I’ve asked state legislators to stop adding to retirement debt. They have refused to listen. Now the Democrt leadership of the assembly proposes to raise the tax and debt again…” 

How will this end? 

My prediction is that the Dems and state workers win again. California’s taxes are going up.

But look, there is more

 

Nearly 10,000 more Americans fled Florida than moved in, according to the U.S.  Census. That followed average gains of more than 200,000 a year from 2001 through 2006.

“It looks like the first time in recorded history that Florida lost population,” Beveridge said.

California also saw a decline in the number of people coming to partake of its sand and sea. Only 1.3% of California residents moved in from out of state in 2008. That’s off from 1.4% in 2007.

For years, Americans have been fleeing the Golden State. The population kept growing only because of foreign immigration and births. All through the 2000s there has been a net loss in domestic migration, with 800,000 more Americans leaving than moving in during the three years ended in 2007. As it became more difficult to sell homes, that out-flow eased. That, combined with the newcomers, meant the population fell by only 144,000 in 2008.

The housing bubble bust, and the harm it did to employment, seems to have pushed more people to leave hot markets like California and Florida than have been drawn in by more affordable home prices.

“The Florida economy is based on growth and home construction,” said Lang. With building projects dying on the vine, unemployment soared to 7.6% for the state in 2008. It’s now up to 10.7%.

The same job problems plague many California cities, especially Central Valley towns like StocktonFresno and Merced. Construction-related job losses helped send state unemployment to 8.7% by December 2008 from 5.9% a year earlier. Today, some cities report breathtakingly high unemployment rates: 30.2% in El Centro; 17.6% in Merced; and 17.2% in Yuba City.

So, where are they moving?

So, if people aren’t heading for the good life in California and Florida, where are they going?

D.C.Alaska and Wyoming. (Seriously.)

The nation’s capital saw 7.6% of its residents arrive in 2008; Alaska attracted 6% more people to the Last Frontier (up a full percent from 2007); and 5.2% more people wanted to be Wyoming cowboys.

The basic trick of statistics is that small populations in these places make modest in-migration increases into large percentage gains. They’re each among the smallest states in the U.S. That’s just the opposite of California and Florida where each percentage point represents hundreds of thousands of people.

Don’t mess with Texas

In terms of net migration — those moving in minus those leaving — Texas was the star performer in 2008, with the population growing by 140,000.

That meshes with what moving company Allied Van Lines experienced. “We moved more people here than anywhere in the U.S. in the last several years,” said David King, general manager of Berger Transfer and Storage in Houston, Texas, and Allied Van Lines’ largest booking and hauling agent.

The moving company recorded 5,891 inbound shipments and 3,988 outbound shipments in 2008, a net gain of 1,903. That was just slightly lower than last year’s net gain of 2,041.

That influx may be due to the state’s employment picture, which has remained rosier than most other places thanks to the energy industry and a welcoming business climate. Plus, home prices never cycled through a boom-bust period: They’ve remained affordable, which facilitates mobility.

The funny thing, the Rocky didn’t know it was on life support for the last 10 years

The JOAs have just prolonged the death of failing newspapers. It’s time to pull the plug.

 

They fancy themselves literary geniuses, some of them do, when they are merely expert at the craft of certain formula which bear little relation to communicating with readers at the highest level. Or they fancy themselves tough-nosed reporters simply because they work in Chicago, and wail about the (falsely alleged) error rates of valuable tools like Wikipedia, without having even gone through the fact-checking process of a typical monthly magazine that will humble any newspaper reporter within minutes (trust me, I know).

The industry is still discussing inverted pyramids instead of the art of the link and how it changes the narrative structure of what we do.

Please die already. — The Beachwoodreporter.com.

Another 50 thrown under the bus at the Columbus Dispatch

The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch is reducing the size of its newsroom, laying off more than 45 people effective on April 3, management of the newspaper announced today. No foolin’. 

“These are challenging times for many industries, including the newspaper industry,” said John F. Wolfe, publisher and CEO, who explained the changes to the staff. He’s the one who owns five suits. 

“We avoided staff reductions as long as possible long after many other news organizations took such action.”

While the newspaper readership remains strong and stable, Wolfe said the economy and market forces have pushed advertising revenue steadily downward. And advertising revenue provides the majority of funds needed to pay salaries and buy paper and ink.

Editor Benjamin J. Marrison said the newsroom staff reductions will hasten a restructuring of the newsroom to put a sharper focus on local news, local sports, enterprise reporting, and building a more robust online presence at Dispatch.com. Haven’t we heard that before? 

He said the reductions will result in some changes in the news pages in the coming months, which he will explain to readers in his “Inside Story” column as plans for those changes are mapped out.

“We will have a smaller but no less dedicated staff working each day to bring our readers the news of central Ohio,” Marrison said. “Our mission remains the same: to provide compelling, relevant, timely and accurate reports about this community. We’ll be working even harder now to make that happen.”

Maybe there is time for “senior editors” with two suits to get hired on at the Obama comunications/propaganda center for “Fairness.” 

Journalists can feel better knowing that soon, the Dispatch won’t be contributing to global warming. 

Maybe it can be called a hate crime to layoff reporters? 

On another front–the biggest losers in the media game–McClatchy News can’t even get pennies on the dollar for some of the papers they spun off from their horrible investment in Knight-Ridder.

A McClatchy spokesman said the company may not be able to recover $5.3 million owed by newspapers it had sold to companies that have recently filed for Chapter 11. That’s putting it mildly. 

The write-off pushes McClatchy’s fourth-quarter loss to $27 million, or 33 cents per share, up from the $21.7 million loss the company reported in February, according to a regulatory filing late Monday.

The company declined to say which papers still owed it money, but three former McClatchy properties filed for bankruptcy protection this year: The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, owned by Brian Tierney’s Philadelphia Media Holdings, and the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, controlled by the private-equity firm Avista Capital Partners.

The McClatchy stock teeters on the prospect of being delisted by the New York Stock Exchange. You can smell death in the boardroom.