Friday, August 04, 2006

Employing backpack journalists

Greetings readers of keen, insightful post-grad journalism analysis blog. It's an honor and a pleasure to have all two of you aboard. I guess the one thing I should say off the bat is I don't ascribe to that whole "overeducated" tagline above. I mean ... I showed up for classes ... I do remember that much ... but not exactly a flurry of skills and facts swirling around in my head, if you catch my drift.

Anyhow, to piggyback off Max's post (an interesting visual), 'just thought I'd add the editors at Anonymous Desert Paper have recently hired two mobile journalists, dubbed - wait for it - "MoJo's."


To start, they've been floating across our eastern coverage section, complete with digital cams - which they also use for video - and laptops with fancy connections for instant updates to our Web site. Lots of community-oriented digests, but cool opportunities to experiment. The editors also have the rest of us ... sedimentary journalists doing regular Web updates throughout the day. Which is fun. But my point is we are indeed moving in that direction, folks ... so Max's friend might appreciate the investment in the long run.

One of our biz reporters even left her desk to take the new MoJo position. In the middle of summer.

In a desert.

Where we've seen one day with a high below 100 in the past 50-something days, and two weeks ago it hit 122. Which is absurd.

Honestly, I don't know what that says for business reporting ... AG?


At 7:20 AM, Blogger AG said...

Dickie -- I for one think biz journalism is going pretty strong. Honestly, if you look at job listings most of them that pay decently are biz related. Business news orgs are expanding, but I don't know if all that extends to the desks at mid-sized papers. Everything just keeps getting more and more niche. Anyway, who wants to sit at a desk most of the time and look over things that are the about as exciting as watching paint dry? Not even me most of the time, but I do it...I'd have taken a MoJo (that's emabarrassing to even write) offer too if I was her.

At 5:34 AM, Blogger Sara said...

I agree with AG that biz reporting is going strong, and when I was looking for a job there were more of those jobs open. And I can't really fathom what 122-degree weather is like, but mobile reporting strikes me as a great way get stories and connect the Web stuff to the paper.

And finally, Dickie, I too don't feel particulary "overeducated." In fact, some days I feel considerably undereducation. But I found that phrase fit because I am still struggling with why I went back to school, shelled out a shitload of money (which I will be paying off until the day I die), and got my master's degree.

"It's an investment in your future," is what I keep hearing, but I haven't seen it even hint at being beneficial to me yet. While I was interviewing for my current job, I watched the editor draw a large bracket around the few bullets on my resume that detailed my writing for the news service and papers while in school. Next to it he wrote "school." Like it didn't count.

Further, I didn't find the position through school contacts (although one professor knew the publisher and gave him a call for me, so I probably owe him big), and no one seems at all interested in the fact (and are perhaps more incredulous) that I went to grad school.

CK heard this rant when I was deciding whether to take this job, and I wonder if or when I will feel like the grad school bit paid off. Meanwhile, I feel like a hamster on a wheel, working hard for peanuts while writing checks for student loans each month. Could I have done this without the degree? Besides my lovely collegue with whom I share this blog (and yes, some good clips), just what did I get out of school? Or are the clips and the possibility that one day down the road I will have a contact that will help me along or an employer impressed by my further education enough?

I realize this is unrealted to your post, but it has been on my mind, so I thought I'd express it. I'd be interested to hear how you all feel now that we are done with grad school and are in the repayment process.

At 5:28 PM, Blogger AG said...

Alabama, applying "overeducated" as a word to our degree misses on some front. Was this necessary? That is a question I don't know if I'll ever answer. For you and I especially, since we came out of what is supposed to be the traditional path in journalism (working your ass off at a community newspaper covering cats up trees, the one murder a year and the like), why did we have to do this? We already knew how to write, how to go out and interview people etc. If not for Econ I'm not sure I could say I came out with that much broader of a knowledge base than I had going in. But, I did get to spend a year in a place with other people that care about what I care about and god forbid actually believe in what they are doing. And I needed that. [I know, I know this doesn't sound like me but I need at least one sentimental moment every couple of months]. Medill did open doors that I could never have opened on my own if I'm going to look at it in any realistic way. But is it worth the money. Not really, since with my newfound knowledge of finance I learned there I'm in way too much debt with way too little cash flow. Don't know that this degree is ever gonna help on that front. If we were companies, our stock wouldn't look good based on financials alone right now.

At 2:11 PM, Blogger Davique said...

I agree with AG, a big part of what made the masters degree worthwhile was being with people who (ostensibly) care about the same things you do, although this probably wasn't so true with the broadcast group...

on a more technical level, our company is only able to sponsor me for my work visa in London because I'm under 28 and have a masters degree. If I didn't have the degree I wouldn't qualify for a "highly skilled" visa and they couldn't do it. So my $60,000 degree has enabled me to move to a city where I'll pay twice as much for everything...what was my point again?


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