Tag Archives: newspaper

The Orion Captures Fifth Straight National Excellence Award – CSU, Chico News – CSU, Chico

The Orion Captures Fifth Straight National Excellence Award – CSU, Chico News – CSU, Chico.

[I was the editor of this paper in the late 1980s for two semesters when Dr. Richard Ek was the adviser. … Of course, that means I had absolutely nothing to do with these awards, but I’m still proud of what the current crew has done. Congratulations! — KM]

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What a long, strange road back to working … some of it in 5-minute bits

Today I had the very shortest job interview I have had in the past two years while on this quest to rejoin the ranks of the employed – five minutes.

Crazy! Five minutes? Why bother?

Last week I applied for an editor’s job with a weekly newspaper in the Napa Valley region of Northern California. It is the region that is famed for its wine and food industry, as it should.

But because of the high cost of land for growing wine grapes and other agriculture, land and property are at a premium. That, in turn, drives up the cost of everything, but especially housing.

According to a cost-of-living calculator on the Sperling’s BestPlaces website, the community in which the weekly newspaper was located is about 50 percent more expensive than Stockton, where I live now. Housing alone in the Napa Valley community was 191 percent higher.

Figuring I might be able to commute, I ran a few more numbers for several nearby communities. The closest city physically was also the most expensive of the five cities for which I tallied the cost of living compared to Stockton. It was 134 percent more expensive that Stockton, with housing being 515 percent – 515 percent – higher than in Stockton.

Using my most recent salary, the calculator computed that I would need to make $83,826 just to live in the community where the paper was located and maintain my Stockton lifestyle, which by no means is lavish. It’s Stockton, after all, the same Stockton that Forbes named “the most miserable city in the nation” for the second time in the past three years.

The human resources representative conducted the telephone interview called right on time today, we exchanged pleasantries and she outlined the initial questions. It was only then that she noticed that my salary requirements – the salary I had made in Stockton without adjustment it for the Napa Valley cost of living – was $10,000 to $15,000 higher than the salary they were offering for the position.

To be clear, they were offering $30,000 to $35,000, which would be plenty to live on in many regions of the country. But not for Napa Valley.

The company that owns the weekly newspaper owns newspapers throughout the country. I know people working at newspapers owned by the company and I have applied for jobs at the company. I won’t use their name or the name of the newspaper, because I may end up applying again for a job with the same company.

But I wonder now if they use a one-salary-fits-all-regions formula, which just does not work. A person doing the similar work, say, in the Southeast does not need as much money to work, live and play as does someone living in the outrageously expensive Napa Valley. If the company is using a one-salary-fits-all-regions formula for setting salaries, they really ought to change that.

The human resources representative apologized for not noticing the gap between what they were offering and my salary requirements, and said she would call me back should the situation change, which she added was unlikely given what the person leaving the job had been making.

A 5-minute job interview. What a crazy, winding road it has been. Crazy.

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Coffeeshop newsrooms yield stories, sources, understanding of journalism | Poynter.org

[I was in journalism for 22 years and much of that was fueled by caffeinated beverages. This is a blog post on the Poynter website about how journalists are camping out at coffeehouses to get closer to the community and let the community see just what is it that they do. Frankly, some newspapers have been doing this sort of thing for years, at least on some level. I like the idea, but I seriously doubt the experiment will last very long. – KM]

Coffeeshop Newsrooms Yield Stories, Sources, Understanding of Journalism

Editorial support for breaking away from Mass.

I’ve been in newspapers for 22 years or so and found the DownEast.com trivia question of interest.

What was the name of Maine’s first newspaper?

Answer:

The Falmouth Gazette and Weekly Advertiser began in 1785 and was used to promote separation from Massachusetts.

Just another day as an unemployed journalist — another step forward

I hate this. I absolutely hate this!

Today makes 14 months since I was laid off from my job at The Record in Stockton, Calif. That is one year and two months; or 56 weeks; or 417 days; or 10,008 hours, give or take; 600,480 minutes.

Give or take. But who’s counting. Phew! …

I’ve written about this before, so I won’t belabor this too much. To make a long story – at 14-month long story – short, I had been a journalist at mid-sized newspapers in Northern California for 22 years. I had been working at The Record since 2006 when I was laid off March 5, 2009.

Underestimating the severity of the downward dive in the economy, I assumed that I would be back to work within three months or so if I made finding a job my job. But three months came and went. And then six months. And nine months. And one year. Now, 14 months.

I have been looking for work every since – at newspapers, wire services, online news services, governments, green industries, nonprofits. I recently applied for a job at a greeting card company, which I’m sure my newspaper buddies will find as ironic as I find ironic. I mean, a long-time curmudgeonly crime and chaos reporter turned curmudgeonly copy editor turned curmudgeonly columnist turned curmudgeonly assistant news editor turned curmudgeonly opinion page editor – you get the point – is not your typical greeting card employee.

Over-qualified or undertrained, that’s been part of my problem. Oh, and trying to find a job in a really shitty economy doesn’t help.

I have applied for hundreds of jobs from sea to shining sea. Seriously, sea to shining sea, and a few places in between. My job search has centered on the West – California, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and Washington state – and my native New England – Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Frankly, I’ve noticed that the greater the distance the job opening, the lower the chances that I’ll even get an email telling thanks, but no thanks, but I keep trying. Everything has to be about making a step forward every single day.

But – again, frankly – momentum has been a problem. The holidays took a bit of the wind out of my momentum sail – too many three-day weekends that stretched into four-day segments when job websites didn’t post new openings. And – again, frankly – there usually wasn’t many job openings to be posted, even without three-day weekends that stretched into four days.

But things are changing. Or so they say. The economy is picking up. Or so they say. And businesses and nonprofits and governments and everyone is hiring or at least planning on hiring. Or so they say.

I have noticed more and more job openings being posted on job websites and more friends and acquaintances are passing along more job openings.

And I am again gaining momentum and applying for more jobs. I even feel confident enough to be relatively selective in my job pursuit – the greeting card application notwithstanding. (Very frankly, that job would be pretty cool, despite the irony of a crusty, dusty newspaperman participating in something as soft and fluffy as the greeting card biz.)

I’m fed up with being unemployed.

I’m hungry to get back to work.

I’m ready, willing and able to get back to work.

I’m just hunting for a break.

I’m sure that I will be working again. I just want it to be now. Now would be good.

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Laid-off journalist being a tiny bit whiny

Some anniversaries simply are not meant to be celebrated. The death of a loved one. The start of war. The day reality TV started. These are anniversaries best not noted.

Today is one of those days, at least for me.

But I’m going to note it anyway.

It was one year today that I was laid off. Before that I had been in the newspaper industry for 22 years working as a reporter, copy editor, columnist, assistant news editor, opinion page editor, assistant city editor and website staff writer. The only other time I had been laid off was from a restaurant table-busing job I had in college and that was because I took off with little notice for about a month to work at my other summer job as a wildland firefighter.

A beautiful and beautifully talented woman who was laid off the same day from the same newspaper calls it a “canniversary” – a year since being canned. She is among the very lucky; she counts being laid off as a blessing because she found a new career outside of the newspaper industry doing things that she loves. I am pleased for her and not at all surprised she found a bit of employment bliss.

Some of us, not so lucky. But still very much plugging away.

Really, I don’t want to come across as whiny. At least, not too much.

I have written that I knew a year ago that losing my job was not my fault, but instead the result of a convulsing economy and industry leaders who were blind to or simply ignored the emerging trends in the newspaper industry. Of course, those same industry leaders retained their jobs, while talented people such as my “canniversary” friend were sent packing.

The sting of unemployment is somewhat tempered by the fact that so many other people were out of work, too. Misery loves company, no matter the source of the misery. It was not so easy to say that there was work for anyone who wanted it bad enough, because there simply was not work for anyone who wanted it.

Like so very many others in the same situation, things have not been great for me in the past year. OK, but not great. Despite the financial, emotional and psychological stress being laid off has caused me, I think overall I’m OK.

Sure, there have been ebbs and flows, ups and downs, ins and outs, people who say “yes” and people who say “no.” But I’d like to think that I’ve gained experience and knowledge that I will be able to use into the future.

The holidays were the roughest days, but perhaps not for the reasons you might expect – too many three-day weekends. That makes for a very poor job-searching environment. Joblessness is demoralizing and it is made even more debilitating when there simply is nothing a person can do, not even search job websites because there are no new postings over the long weekend.

But you learn to move on. You learn to always take a step forward. And another. Always forward. Never give up the high ground and never give up ground gained. And you do it because there is no other option.

I don’t often quote stogie-chomping fat guys, but they say Winston Churchill told a nation once, “Never, never, never give up.” I’m rather too stubborn to give up, either.

Of course, forward movement doesn’t always work out the way you plan. And I’ve done my share of back-stepping the past couple of months. I’ve stumbled over stones and boulders and mountains, some of them of my own making, and some the making of malicious characters seen and unseen. (That’s not too whiny, is it?)

No matter, forward continues to be the only direction.

By the way, the past couple of days have been OK. I have been dreading for months this “canniversary.” I never expected that I would be out of work for three months, let alone a year, but I have been.

I remain optimistic that things will get better. I am optimistic and certain that I will find employment, either in the news industry or in a field less abusive to those people working in it.

And I am true to the idea that this will not define me, but ultimately make me stronger.

I’ve been a very, very bad blogger

It is clear to me that I have been a very, very bad blogger the past couple of weeks.

In many ways I have completely failed. But in a few others I think I have excelled.

Well, “excelled” may be a bit much, so let us agree that I have not done as well at some things as I have others. And I vow to strive to do better at the things I failed to do well, while continuing to do the things that I might have done better than, well, the things I did not do so well. Well …

What I have not done well lately is write fresh, new content for this blog about Maine and Mainers from a perspective of someone “from away.”  It has not been because of so-called writer’s block or want of trying. It simply has been a matter of time and not seeming to have any to write new content.

Frankly, I am still getting over the holiday haze, but now am looking forward to what great and special things will happen in 2010. Top among those things is finding employment. I am hungry to get back to work.

If you have read this blog before – I am a “blogger,” but what are people who read blogs? – you will know that I have been out of work since March 2009. I was laid off after 22 years working in the newspaper industry. And you would have to be from the dark side of the moon not to know that the newspaper industry has been hit very hard the past couple of years – continued high costs of paper and other materials, continued high profit margins for stockholders, lower revenue due to lower advertising sales due to the housing crisis and the auto industry crisis and the national economy crisis.

Leaders in the newspaper industry failed to heed the warnings that came to them a decade or two ago that a new age in information dissemination was coming – the Age of the Internet – and they made little effort to adjust. And what little effort they made came much too late for tens of thousands of very talented people in journalism and for many newspapers which have now long ago shut down their presses. I blame newspaper owners and publishers the most, although everyone in the industry has a share of the blame.

Because of all that I have been looking not only for a newspaper job, but for employment in the nonprofit or government sectors. There is a chance that what they used to say is still true, that writing skills are appreciated in very nearly any field. I am not 100 percent convince that is true given the traditionally low salaries in newspapers and other media, the decreasing salaries in newspapers, other media and for freelancers, and the low wages for “writers” in industries in which writers are not traditionally thought to work. And the disintegration of language because of what passes as “allowed” writing in emails, texting, blogs and other electronic media belittles and besmirches what professional writers do. That is the way of the universe.

And I also have given thought to returning to college to earn a master’s degree in another field, perhaps pubic administration. I believe I would go with an emphasis in nonprofit management over government agency management, because for some time I have wanted to do something for the greater good and working for a nonprofit has the feel of doing something more directly good for people.

What I think I have done fairly well for the past couple of months is to: 1) aggregate news about Maine from various sources, usually from Maine newspaper websites; and 2) post stories and other information about the plight of the people in Haiti following the earthquake last month.

Of the former, I usually have posted a headline of a story of interest and maybe some comment along with a link back to the newspaper’s website. I sometimes use the share feature on newspaper websites and sometimes the effort requires a little more work than that, but I always link back to the newspaper so the newspaper is getting the Web visit and the full credit. I gain nothing from the exercise other than keeping idle hands busy.

Of the latter, the effort to help spread information on what happened, what is happening, and what people can do to help Haitians seems a very tiny effort comparatively speaking. I wish I could do more. It is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and we have an obligation – not as Americans, not as members of one of the richest nations in the world, but as fellow human beings – to do what we can to help. Mainers have represented themselves well in the effort to help Haitians and it makes this Mainer “from away” proud to post those stories of Mainers’ efforts.

When I started this blog only a few short months ago, the intention was to write about and comment upon Maine and Mainers from the perspective of a person now “from away.” I had planned to comment each day.

Things have been hectic lately and sometimes it is a bit overwhelming to try to live up to my own intensions.

But I will strive to be more diligent about updating my blog.

Come back to Letters From Away every so often, won’t you.