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Archive for September, 2007

Maybe I’m too nice. What would you do?

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

I read this post in the LiveJournal journalists & newsroom communities this morning. I thought about replying, but decided against it for want of time.

Maybe I should reply, because my response would differ from every person there. And to be honest, I’m surprised by that. I think it’s my naiveté showing. Or maybe I’m just too nice. I’m wondering what you all think?

Basically, the person accepted and has started one job but says it was an anything is better than nothing, first offer on the table kind of thing. It’s not at all what he/she wants to be doing. The issue? She started a week ago, and then she got an interview offer from her “dream job.” She set up an interview and wants to know how to quit her current job and how to explain (assuming she would get the dream job).

The range of responses seem to all point to one thing: slash and burn, have no remorse, they expect it, it happens.

Sure it happens. I guess that’s why you have a 90-day probation, right? They can drop you and you can drop them. No harm, no foul. No hard feelings. Riiiiigggghhht.

But man, I couldn’t start a job and quit after a week. First of all, your first week on any job isn’t going to be anything like the hundreds of others to follow. Second of all, a week? A week?! This isn’t McDonalds. This is your career. And better or worse, you will likely run into some of these people down the road. And even if you don’t, Karma sucks.

I guess I’m too nice. When I accepted my job, the next day I got a call with my DREAM internship and possibility of a job at the end. The thing I was most thankful for was I didn’t have both offers on the table at once or I couldn’t have made the right one — the sure thing, the job. I also couldn’t, even one day after giving my verbal OK, call the editors back and say, hey I changed my mind. I certainly couldn’t do it after actually starting.

Like I said, I’m too nice.

I know this is a competitive industry. I know I should look out for my own. I know that the company would drop me in a heartbeat and feel no remorse. I know. I know. I know. But my mother raised me better than that.

A few weeks back, I actually got a call for another job. It was thee job I wanted so badly at graduation. It was the one I cried over not getting, even as I had another offer on the table. It was what I wanted more than anything seven months ago. And the editor was true to her word, at first opening, she wanted to offer it to me. It would have doubled my circulation. It would have meant a bigger town, closer to home. It would have had more online/multimedia every day. It would have been everything I will be looking for in my next job. Hell, I would do that as my next job. But when the call came, I had to say the same thing I’ve said to the other editors who’ve called or e-mailed since I started here, “I’m flattered. But I’m not ready to move yet.”

As soon as I hung up the phone I thought, “What the hell did I just do? Am I crazy?!” But the thing is, it only took me two seconds to know in my heart I couldn’t leave yet. Not that I couldn’t do the job. I’d LOVE to do the job. What I couldn’t do is leave my editors and sources at the drop of a hat. I couldn’t leave the paper and my co-workers to pick up the pieces like that. I know this is an every-man-for-himself industry, but I don’t know who can fault me for thinking like a team player?

Again, here I go with the nice person spiel. Nice or stupid. Probably both.

I have made no pretensions of intending to stay here for the long haul. Let’s be honest, who does at their first job? And I don’t know how I will tell when the time is right. But I do know that after seven months, I’ve just finally gotten to know my beat and this city. I’ve finally got my contact information on the speed dial of the principals. I can find all my schools (the 30+ in this county at least) without the aid of MapQuest. I can attend a school board meeting and actually understand what they’re talking about, and when they drop names, I know whom they’re talking about.

Like I told the editor who called me a few weeks back, I’ve finally gotten settled in here. There’s still so much I can and need to learn from this job before I move on to a new challenge. It’s not just the whole, “you have to stay for at least a year” thing. Truth is, if I hated my job or didn’t dig this city so much, I would have given more than a moment’s pause.

Will I leave the J&C? Yes. When? I don’t know. My intent from day one has been to at least see this school year out. Who knows if I’ll be here for just that time or if five years from now I’ll still call Lafayette home. I’m fortunate to have landed somewhere where I’m not just biding my time until something better comes along, like the LJ poster intended to. At the year and a half point, I’ll evaluate where I stand in terms of enjoyment, fulfillment, challenge and the real buzz-kill, options. After I hung up with the editor, though extremely flattered, I was immediately worried: What if I wait another decade for that chance to come back? What did I just do?

On the bright side, I did suggest the editor look at another peer still on the job prowl. To be honest, he’s more talented than me, has better clips and way more experience. She called him the next day, brought him out the next week, and in a few short weeks he’ll be starting my dream job. And though I could be upset that I wanted that job so badly and didn’t get it seven months ago. Truth be told? I’m just happy it was him if it couldn’t be me.

My question to all the experienced journalists, professors and editors out there reading this, what would you have done? (In my situation and in the LJ posters?) Not that it would (or could) change the outcome for me — for one thing I think my propensity toward niceness could only have ended how it did — I’m just curious if I really did blow a great opportunity for no good reason. Or if the LJ replies are merely one jaded segment of the journalism population and decency and loyalty still count for something.

Where’s the Facebook backlash?

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Last year about this time, hundreds of thousands (maybe millions by the time it was all said and done) of college students protested the addition of the news feed to Facebook.

Since then, there’ve been mere ripples as the site was opened to our parents and bosses. Barely a peep was made as external applications were added forcing us to constantly ignore requests to be bitten by a vampire or take quizzes about our friends. Now we’re asked to declare our top friends and scroll for ages down our BFFs profile because he/she added so many applications that reading their wall (not the super wall or wiki wall or advanced wall) now requires you to hold down the down arrow and wait — for a long time — to eventually reach the bottom where the old-school wall has been relegated.

Now, I’m not saying these additions are horrible. They aren’t. Not all of them at least. Some are fun, some make it more useful. Others are annoying. I guess as long as it doesn’t degenerate into MySpace, I can live with the changes.

One change, however, that caught my eye when I logged in today was this:
facebook profiles going public

Yes my friends, per Facebook, we may soon be Googleable. Where’s the backlash on that from all the privacy-protecting college students who a year ago freaked that their friends would know when they added a new favorite movie?

Clicking on Read more…

Since your search privacy settings are set to “Everyone,” you now have a public search listing. This means that friends who aren’t yet on Facebook will be able to search for you by name from our Welcome page. Public Search Listings may only include names and profile pictures.

In a few weeks, these public search listings can be found by search engines like Google. No privacy rules are changing; anyone who discovers your public search listing must register and log in to contact you via Facebook. Learn More.

OK. Fine. I don’t care that people know I’m on Facebook. I don’t have anything to hide, a few of my editors are even my friends on Facebook. I wouldn’t have my privacy set to being searchable by everyone if I cared. Several old friends have found me through this feature, which is why I leave it on. But I don’t know, I’m somewhat leery about the idea of anything Facebook being searchable through Google, etc. I know, I know. The privacy settings are the same. I can up them at any time, or I could just sign off the site all together. I won’t over this, but I do think that they’re chipping away, bit by bit, at our tolerance. One day I’m going to wake up and this will be the top hit when you search for my name in any search engine.

The public search listing contains less information than someone could find right after signing up anyway, so we’re not exposing any new information, and you have complete control over your public search listing.

Fine. But, I’m still not sure mixing job-hunting and Facebook is a good idea. Check out this release from CareerBuilder.

But, what do I know?

Even NYTimes covers the first day of school

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

Somehow, knowing that even the NYTimes does a first day of school story makes my barrage of them (one for each county district and the catholic schools) last month seem somehow less tortuous.

Their first day was decidedly more eventful than any of mine. My biggest task was finding four different news angles to get into it. (And to be honest, by the last of the four I covered, I was fresh out and just went with a straight feature.) They also had a whole troop of reporters canvassing the city, whereas I was puttering myself across the county every day to get to multiple schools. It’s kind of funny to me. How many reporters does it take to cover the first day of school? Apparently two to write it and another four to contribute additional reporting. That’d be like half our local reporting staff.

Oh well, it’s reassuring to know even the best get this assignment. And really, I didn’t mind so much once I was doing it. It was the idea of doing it that I hated.

Advice to college freshmen

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

Haha, love this piece from the NYTimes: Welcome, Students. Now Watch It.

Instead of the traditional “make sure you make a wish in the fountain” or “kiss under the arch” that many colleges and papers peddle this time of year, this is a fun, snarky, no-B.S. list of things NOT to do when you’re a student in NYC.

I always wanted to go to NYC for school. But ah las, I could barely afford to stay in my own home state for college. So that wasn’t an option. But I think this type of approach would be fun for any school/student newspaper. Here’s 5 of mine from my time at Kent State, followed by a few observations on my time around Purdue.


  • Don’t spend all your money on campus. Just because you can buy food and groceries on campus doesn’t mean you won’t get ripped off. Dude, Acme is within easy walking distance, has better selection and a bonus card. Extra bonus points: Campus Wine Cellar is on the way. Plus, Kent State is already making a killing on you through fees and tuition. Don’t encourage them.

  • Don’t make eye contact with the people handing out fliers or “you’re going to hell” tracts near the student center. Sure, they have the right to be there, even if what they’re peddling is disgraceful or disgusting. Don’t get into a conversation. Even when you agree, you lose. And then, you’re late to class.
  • Don’t pull the fire alarm. Just because your drunken self has nothing better to do doesn’t mean the rest of your dormmates don’t have 7:45 classes or jobs to get to in the morning. Seriously. Grow up.
  • Don’t catch the bus to class and then complain when you’re late. Nothing on campus is that far. And everyone know the bus schedule is merely a suggestion not the reality.
  • Don’t forget to see downtown Kent — during day light. Far too many Kent Staters see only the bars of downtown Kent and never eat at Franklin Square Deli or watch the train go by or sit by the Cuyahoga. There’s also some pretty quirky “only in Kent” stores you should see.


(noting that I don’t actually have much to do with the school, this is all based on my experience living among and around college students, these are decidedly more tongue-in-cheek)

  • Don’t live on Dodge Street if you intend to sleep or park anywhere on game nights. Wish someone had given me this tip before I moved into what I came to pretty quickly learn was party central — every night of the week.

  • Don’t bother crossing at cross walks. Only seven pedestrians have been hit in 2007, and only three of them were actually injured. Besides, all the cool kids are jaywalking. Don’t believe me? Watch the video.
  • Don’t bring a car to campus. Seriously, there’s no where to park anywhere in Lafayette/West Lafayette on a good day. Add 40,000 additional vehicles, driven by inexperienced, caffeinated and sometimes drunk students and those seven pedestrians hit is likely to skyrocket. Besides, walking across campus will help work off those late night binges.
  • Don’t complain about how there’s nothing to do. There are hundreds of student organizations, tons of restaurants and bars, a few libraries (and book stores) and 39,000 other undergrads who have nothing better to do than play cornhole and walk around half-naked near the streets. Plus, Indy’s only an hour away and Chicago is just over two. Stop complaining. You could be in Kent.
  • Don’t bother going to graduation. I don’t think they tell you this in the view book, BUT, they don’t even announce your name. In fact, your name is projected about 20 at a time on the stage as you and another student walk simultaneously across the stage in opposite directions toward the middle. The whole culmination of four (or more) years hard work and thousands of dollars in tuition lasts less than 15 seconds. Sorry to break it to you, but someone should.
  • I’ll think of some more. I’m tired now. I’ll recruit some actual Boilermakers to help with this.

And there you have it. My five reasons Meranda is over college, and why she has realized living in a college town, while having its benefits, also has many downfalls.

Definitely not about the money

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

So, I saw this list of awesome education statistics from the Census Bureau linked from Al’s Morning Meeting and bookmarked it to peruse later. As in tonight.

I was a little sad I hadn’t stumbled on it sooner, or thought to look. See, back to school for me was early to mid-August. Yes, most of the little buggers in this county started back Aug. 13 & 14. I KNOW?! Insanely early. But they also finished up by the end of May, which is a nice trade off if you ask me. But I digress.

As I was flipping through the stats, I made notes to myself, “Oh that’s interesting. I didn’t know 70 percent of students are enrolled in all-day kindergarten. I could have used that stat in all those stories I wrote.” Or that “Only 50 percent of full-time college students are employed. (NO wonder everyone else seemed less stressed than me!)”

Then I came across this tid-bit, and I won’t lie, it sort of depressed me: $14.18 Average hourly wage for the nation’s school bus drivers in 2004-05. Custodians earned $12.61, while cafeteria workers made $10.33. Bus drivers make more than me, and custodians earn almost as much on average. Not that I would want either job (though mom did try to lure me into being a campus bus driver, sorry ma, transportation was your thing not mine), or would be good at either. But still, it just puts into perspective how much I get paid after busting my butt to get my degree and the experience necessary to get a job in a competitive field.

But then again, I didn’t get into journalism for the money. (Thank, God.) I got into it for the thrill of seeing a problem, trend, issue or injustice and finding out everything I can about it, what can and is being done about it and passing the knowledge/torch on to readers. I got into it because I can’t not ask when I have a question. I can’t not know.

In terms of how much I think I get out of my job, I think that makes up for some of the difference in pay. A lot of the difference in pay or I wouldn’t do it. I guess I’ll just be extra nice to all the district transportation directors, and keep the bus idea on the back-burner in case this reporting thing doesn’t work out. Lord help you all (and your children) if that ever happens. lol.

QOTD: Life is the art of drawing without an eraser

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

“Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.”
— John W. Gardner

QOTD: I don’t think of all the misery …

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

“I don’t think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that still remains.”
— Anne Frank