Career advice

September 15, 2003
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This is an excerpt from an e-mail I sent to a colleague who was wondering about job opportunities in certain papers.

If you get called for an interview, check out the ages of the people who work there… if there are lots of people who look to be late 30s and older, it means people like to stay there. If they’re all in their 20s it means they’ve run off all their veteran talent. Copy desk will be pretty young, most likely, but if the management looks boomerish, they may have promise. Also, ask how many editions they put out and try to imagine how hard it would be to do that. Some papers zone themselves silly and it makes desk work a nightmare – or at least really complicated. Once you figure out how many editions they put out, ask for copies of all of them and see how many stories they pick up from one to the next. A well-zoned paper won’t have many stories repeating from one edition to the next. But to tell the truth, nobody does it well, so don’t get your hopes too high along those lines.

Also: check out their website and see what kind of stories they’re doing. You can tell a lot by how zealous they are about style … look for things like consistency with unfamiliar capitalization.

I’d like to hear your feedback on whether any of this is good advice. It made sense to me, of course, but I’ve been known to be wrong about stuff. So, use the “comments” link and pass along any more tips or corrections along these lines

One Response to Career advice

  1. JT on September 17, 2003 at 6:24 am

    Most of this sounds great, although the paper I work at has middle-aged people in management who stick around solely because this is a nice place to live and there is only one newspaper in town. A little competition is always nice, so I’d suggest checking that out too. Is the paper “competing” with local TV news or an alt-weekly? Bah! Doesn’t count.