|By G. Michael Dobbs|
It's the meeting that no manager wants to have with a great staff member a discussion with someone whom everyone admires turning in his or her notice.
But I find myself with that situation as one of our colleagues has informed me of her intentions to leave shortly. It was a surprise to both of us. Life likes to take unannounced turns and detours.
So now, I am looking for a new reporter to add to the staff and I've had my first few nibbles from an ad I posted on www.journalismjobs.com.
This is what I wrote:
"Are you a member of the Church of Community Journalism? Do you believe that 'little' newspapers can break stories with real impact? If so, then send your resume to Managing Editor G. Michael Dobbs at email@example.com. "Reminder Publications, Inc. of East Longmeadow, MA, anticipates at least one opening, perhaps two, for full-time reporters in its News Department before Thanksgiving. Our four weeklies serve over 120,000 readers in greater Springfield and we are looking for people who understand that dailies don't always get the story right or first. If you're looking for a news reporting job not sports on a close-knit aggressive team that is full-time and has benefits such as options for health and dental insurance and paid vacation, drop me a line today."
Now, this is what is known in the business as "an entry level position." The pay isn't at slave-level, but it is modest.
But unlike many other publications in this nation, we still offer a for-real full-time job with actual benefits.
Unfortunately, that is becoming more and more rare. Many newspapers, in a move to save money, have started buying out full-time reporters and replacing them with part-timers. While the businessperson inside of me understands the reason for that tactic, the newsman does not.
When newspapers cut down the number of full-time reporters, they also run the risk of not being able to develop a staff that understands their area. Feeling part of a community is essential to good reporting.
After all, many people in part-time positions are only marking time until they have the experience to apply for a full-time gig. If you don't intend to stay a while or if the company doesn't expect you to stay you're not likely to get too involved, are you?
That's human nature, folks.
The response to my ad yielded quite a number of inquires, mostly from qualified people who are living all over the country: Maryland, Alabama, Colorado, New York, California, New Hampshire, Missouri, as well as Massachusetts.
And everyone said they're eager to travel and relocate to western Massachusetts.
What's attracting them? It's the chance to have a 40-hour paycheck and an opportunity to buy into a benefits package. As daily papers consolidate their news package and shift the emphasis from local news pages to ones that are regional (so they can get greater play for each story they assign) news operations such as ours help to keep readers aware of what's happening in their own communities. We maintain the faith of that Church of Community Journalism.
By the way, if you're interested in the job, send me your resume and some examples of your published stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
These are my opinions alone. Send your comments to email@example.com or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA, 01028.