Magazine article Editor & Publisher

What Do You Dislike about Your Job?

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

What Do You Dislike about Your Job?

Article excerpt

DISSATISFACTION IS ON the increase in American newsrooms. More journalists than ever would like to leave the field according to a recent "Journalist Satisfaction Study" by the Associated Press Managing Editors association.

Almost half (44%) surveyed would like to be at a different paper in the next year. Two-thirds (62%) of those aged 18 to 34, want to leave their jobs.

Among the irritants: As tradition clashes with the bottom-line drive of corporate managers, there is a perception that newspaper quality is declining. Trendy, reader-friendly pages are alienating the men and women who fill them. The skew to what readers want is journalistically inhibiting. The money could be better. Lack of management focus. Hear it from five working journalists.

Louis Mleczko Staff reporter Detroit News

I have been at the Detroit News for 23 years and have never been unhappier. I have thought seriously of making a change but, unfortunately at age 46, job prospects on a big-city daily are extremely limited.

As president of the Newspaper Guild local here, which also includes the Free Press and some suburban papers, I've had a great vantage point.

We have lost over 300,000 of our daily circulation, roughly half the total. When the joint operating agreement was approved by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1989, we were at about 690,000 daily. Now it's just below 350,000.

The Free Press has also lost readership but not nearly as much as we have. They are down from about 620,000 to 575,000. Ironically, when we were going through an even worse recession in the early '80s, the circulation of both papers increased.

When Gannett took over, they brought their management style and philosophy of newspapering to Detroit. From a journalistic standpoint, it's been an unhappy experience.

One of their innovations is the Gannett News 2000 program. Basically, it's a blueprint for writing shorter stories in a "reader friendly" way. It's writing to please the reader as opposed to the staff interpreting the day's events and reporting on them.

This has created a situation where reporters are deprived of drive and enterprise and given little opportunity to exercise creativity and imagination.

Frequently, three, four or five different editors will edit one story and each will put his own imprimatur on it. There's an attitude that the editors know everything and the reporting staff knows nothing. Many of our line editors or middle-level editors have little reporting experience themselves. They came up through the ranks of the copy desk and never functioned as reporters.

For 10 years, I was transportation writer for the News and developed an

expertise, sources and a classification that was not of interest to many readers. That classification has been eliminated entirely.

It's frustrating not being able to function as an experienced reporter who can go out, cover a beat and develop sources and story ideas.

Fred King Copy editor Spokesman-Review, Spokane

The thing I dislike about my job is the politics. There's a perception you have to play the game to get along. It's almost as if hard work isn't a requirement any longer.

I used to be news editor of the evening paper here. It was a supervisory job and I was very happy. They killed the evening paper and I am now working as a copy editor for the morning paper. I'm not displeased with that, but I believe all my skills are not being utilized. I enjoyed what I was doing then, but I'm feeling pretty stagnant now.

After 15 years in the business, the lack of opportunity to use my leadership and organizational skills in a creative setting is particularly frustrating.

As a morning newspaper, most of the hard-core news jobs are nighttime jobs, but I resist working at night.

I suppose if I put in 12-hour days, worked different hours and would be willing to be moved around without discussion, I probably would have done better here. …

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