Monday, January 4, 2010

Reporters wanted: Flint, Bay City, Saginaw

Just months after slamming the door behind a number of good reporters (and I learned another really good one just left for a private sector job out of journalism - good for her) has a listing for "versatile reporters" at the papers in Flint, Saginaw and Bay City.

My favorite line is: "salary negotiable."

You better bring a really good negotiator if you want to make enough not to have to room with three other people and drive a winter beater car. Also remember that full-time in the new journalism world means 50-hours a week with no overtime. But I'm sure there will be plenty of takers.

On the other hand, they must still have an old roster with the names and numbers of a lot of "versatile reporters" they showed the door. Some of them might want their jobs back.

If you apply for one of those jobs, drop me a line and let me know what those "competitive salary and benefits" are.

But it may be good news for those on board that maybe the bottom has been found and that further reductions and salary and benefit "adjustments" might be over. If that's the case I'm happy for those still there.


Anonymous said...

Here's a candidate they might consider:

Jim of L-Town said...

Wow, sounds really good. Everyone play nice now.

Gene said...


The problem with this profession for years has been that journalism's (alleged) prestige far outweighs the rewards offered to most of its practitioners. In other words, a committed journalist or reporter wannabee would work for a wage that a grocery store would snub just to get a byline.

Lord knows, I started out at a weekly where I found a $210 paycheck more than adequate for a 60-hour work week. Heck, that was a GOOD deal -- reporters at other Detroit-area weeklies were making $170 a week while working 70 to 80 hours.

This is one of the reasons why I could never get upset over the supposedly low pay of teachers. After all, they were making $50-60K a year for 9 months' work, while I as a reporter -- sort of an uber-teacher in that the articles I wrote educated the public about important matters -- made almost 11 grand for all those 60-hour weeks, two weeks' vacation and maybe 5 holidays.

Bottom line: You had to be a masochist to be an editorial worker at a newspaper even before the current crisis.

Jim of L-Town said...

Gene, you are so right. Most of us never did the job because of the salary. Before the current economic crisis there were alternatives, but none offered the rush or daily satisfaction that journalism did.

The new wave of editors, the one that cared more about public relations and reader focus surveys, etc. should have been the first sign that the business model was collapsing.

I think when we failed to publish in 2000 after a snowstorm for the first time in history, that was a signpost that the leadership of the paper no longer got the mission. A small thing, but very significant in the big picture.

Once newspapering simply became a bottom line business, we were done. The fun and excitement of the newsroom evaporated like cold water on a hot sidewalk.

There will be journalism, there will likely be newspapers for a long time to come, but it will never be the passionate mission that it once was.

It helped at the Flint Journal that we were paid competitive (not necessarily high) wages and got excellent benefits. It made you feel the work you did was valued.

But you are correct, no one really ever did "newspapers" because they could get rich.

Anonymous said...

". . . aggressive diggers who have demonstrated ability to enterprise stories . . ."

Y'all get the translation here, kids? Can you spot that 6th grade Patrol Girl at the elementary school and do a feature on her? Not just what she does Monday through Friday . . . no, no silly . . . rather, ask her how long she's DREAMED of being a Patrol Girl! What SATISFACTION does she get from it? Talk to her fellow classmates, and ask them how warm and fuzzy they feel now that said Patrol Girl is looking over them, day after day, from 3:35 p.m. to 3:40 p.m. as they leave the school. HEY! Is this a GIRL working in a BOYS' WORLD??? SIDEBAR!!!!!!! Weeeeeee!!!

Then go to the beaming parents and get their thoughts! Hell, maybe even the grandparents will buy a 2x2 next to the story that reads, "Congratulations, Hailey! We're so PROUD of you!!!"

Diggers. Right.

Digging a bigger hole.

Anonymous said...

Gene: I was perusing a reader comment today on a local newspaper Web site about how a teacher he/she knew makes $67K a year. I'm not saying teachers are underpaid, but that's nothing to squawk at. I'm just kicking myself for being a schmuck and picking a career that pays less than half that, and probably with a lot more aggregation. Even if I were to switch careers tomorrow and take home that $67K paycheck, it won't make up for spending almost three decades in this thankless career. Somehow I'll have to find a way to live with this decision and rationalize this.

inky said...

Two concepts you'll never see in the same sentence: "Booth editors" and "aggressive diggers."

Anonymous said...

I mean aggravation. Must edit my posts more carefully.

Anonymous said...

I have no plans, much less desire, to apply. I freelanced for the Journal in the past and was passed over for full-time work in favor of kids fresh out of college. When the openings came up, despite the rapport I'd built, I was told to submit my resume, as if I'd never done any work for them.

I love to write, but I also have to balance it with having to earn a living. I work two jobs and also freelance because my writing income simply isn't enough to make ends meet. As long as newspapers continue to save money on cheap labor, the quality will continue to go down.

Anonymous said...

They let the best columnists in the state go, only one works freelance and his heart is hardly in it. Guess they figured out readers weren't happy and what they did was a mistake. Too bad they don't make apologies and call the good people back. But who wants to work for $15 an hour, especially for a newspaper nobody reads anymore.

Position:Features writer/columnist
Location:Flint, Michigan
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Negotiable
Ad Expires: February 1, 2010

Description: The Flint Journal, a three-day print newspaper and seven-day Internet media company, is seeking a versatile, productive features writer who also can contribute a weekly lifestyle column. This is a unique opportunity to tell great stories and develop audience in a newsy community with strong readership. Applicants should have at least two years experience at a daily newspaper or equivalent Web news operation, be able to write clearly and engagingly across many topics, and have a demonstrated talent for column writing. Also, candidates should have experience in posting to the Web and engaging readers online. The Flint Journal has a long tradition of newspaper excellence, a collaborative newsroom environment and competitive pay and benefits. Send a cover letter, resume and six clips to John Hiner, executive editor, Booth Mid-Michigan, at, or by mail to The Flint Journal, 200 E. First St., Flint MI 48502. No phone calls, please.

Gene said...

Yo, Anonymous 18:16,

Thanks for realizing that I was NOT griping about teachers' salaries in my earlier remarks. Good teachers have helped shape my life and are among the nation's top assets.

In fact, my wife was a teacher whose salary kept us afloat during a year-long strike against the evil John McGoff's Panax Corp. in 1978-79. (In an amazing turn of events, I landed a job as main flack for the Police Officers Association of Michigan, a union, just as my wife received a pink slip. She never worked full time again, but everything worked out OK.)

The thing is, we live next to 2 teachers, now retired. Back in the '90s, when Michael Jordan was losing his game but still signed a new contract with the Bulls for $25 million or so. I was mowing the lawn when my neighbor came out and whined to me for 45 minutes about how overpaid Jordan and how unfair life is.

I had to bite the inside of my cheek because I knew he and his wife were both drawing down $65K a year (their contracts were in the public record), while my family was getting by on my salary of $52K

Somehow, I've always felt I'm happier than my neighbor. If somebody does better than me legitimately and breaks no rules, I wish him or her well. I've never wasted a millisecond begrudging anyone's good fortune.

Believe me, it's saved me a world of grief.

Anonymous said...

Based on my direct, personal experience, what would a Booth executive editor know about writing engaging, well-written, thought-provoking columns?

could he mebbe show us how to do it?


Shoot, there are three glaring factual errors in the job posting alone:

The Flint Journal HAD a long history of journalistic excellence ... HAD a collaborative newsroom environment ... HAD competitive pay and benefits.

All three of those babies were thrown out onto E. First Street.

With the bathwater.

Anonymous said...

Best columnists in the state? Somebody was drinking the Kool-Aid. So, his heart is no longer in it. That means it has joined his head as MIA.

Anonymous said...

Ya, I also took a double take at best columnists in the state, too. The FJ had a lot of talented folks but I'm not sure they included columnists. Regarding the one whose heart is no longer in it, I'd ask: if he was so good, why did he stay at the FJ so long and not move up to the big time, at least when there there still was a big time in Michigan -- and if not here, then in another state? One could claim he didn't want to move up, but I know that's not true.

No, if anything, the paper had too many columnists or columnists wannabes, which probably didn't help slow the paper's demise.

On a different note but pure Flint, how about that Dan Kildee, huh? How annoying is that guy? He quits his latest gig as a career politician, who had ridden the coattails of his Unka Dale for it seems like three decades, to take some funky land bank job in Washington, apparently only to throw that away for a governor's job that, if Cherry couldn't get, Kildee certainly has no chance of getting, either. Oh, vanity! Anyway, I just want to see it reported that Kildee is quitting the land bank job he never actually started. Maybe the FJ has reported this on line. So far, I've just read that he is considering a run now that Cherry is out. I mean, isn't he supposed to be in Washington by now?

How delusional must he be to believe that someone with less name recognition than Cherry north and south of Miller Road, and surely with far less money raised than Cherry at this point, has any real shot? How presumptuous, after abandoning Flint for some East Coast think tank, that Flintoids would welcome him back as some sort of a hero. Please, Dan, take the land bank gig! If not that, then maybe do a hair club for men commercial, but stay away from the governor's office -- you have absolutely no business being there. Decades of engorging yourself at the public trough will no longer cut it with already disenchanted voters.

Anonymous said...

Don't hold your breath waiting for the Journal to publish anything even relatively critical of Dan Kildee. Remember the 2 part front page story, "The Donald Trump of Genesee County?" He was a developer with TAXPAYER MONEY???

Not to mention a certain editor might have a hissy...