I made the newspaper! Now what?

Tracy Mallette gives good content.

Month: August, 2012

10 reasons every company should hire a former journalist

By Tracy Mallette

What’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to non-news-media companies, you ask? Newspaper layoffs, that’s what.

A bunch of awesomely talented people are looking for jobs, and they’re people every business needs. (My journo-honesty conscience is nagging me to throw a bias alert in here now – so, btw, I’m biased, but that’s the point of having a blog anyway.) Which brings me to the beginning of the list!

1. Ethical

Newspaper people are an ethical bunch. We know not to accept gifts – unless it’s leftover food from the day shift. Also under the ethical umbrella is honesty. Our career is based on the truth, and that’s why we chose journalism to begin with. And we all know that the truth is the best defense.

2. Writing skills

I didn’t realize how valuable my writing and editing skills are until I was out of the news business. That’s the main reason I was hired in marketing; my company needed someone with writing and editing abilities. In order to be seen by customers, every business needs a writer because right now it’s all about great content. People don’t need to sit through ads anymore – they seek out the content they want to read. Companies have to adjust by hiring writers to create content their customers will seek out.

3. Communication skills

Companies have trouble with communication. Reporters especially know how to communicate tactfully, and can get people to open up. Interview skills are invaluable, especially when dealing with clients or hosting increasingly popular (and also invaluable) website usability tests.

4. Hard workers

Editors and reporters do what it takes to get the paper out. They cover late-night fires, early morning meetings, late-night meetings, ten local football games in one Friday night, let’s not forget elections – and everything else that happens in the coverage area. It’s crazy.

5. Connections

If your company is fortunate enough to snag a locally laid-off reporter, you get the benefit of an employee with pre-intstalled, impressive connections; police chiefs, media influencers, government officials and more. Tread lightly in asking favors though – revisit number 1 if that confuses you.

6. Deadline-driven

You see this in every job ad out there. Every employer wants a deadline-driven employee. Well, it doesn’t get more deadline-driven than a daily newspaper professional. We’re serious about deadlines. The paper has to print – and you do not want to be the person who costs the company thousands of dollars because it went late. There are rare exceptions though (see number 4).

7. Fast learners

Reporters and editors have to learn a subject pretty fast if they’re going to write and edit a story about it. Also, the changing job scene requires reporters to learn social media marketing, editors to learn page design, etc. They learn these things on the job – with a daily deadline to meet.

8. Humor

A newsroom is the funniest place in the world. Often, it has to be funny or we wouldn’t be able to handle the daily tragedies that cross the desk. You don’t have to worry about offending someone who used to work in a newsroom.

9. Detail-oriented

I got so sick of seeing this requirement in job descriptions. This must’ve been the most popular item to list as a job requirement: detail-oriented. Editors are the most obnoxiously detail-oriented people you will ever meet. They know when you’ve misplaced a comma, and won’t hesitate to fix it. It’s not just the grammar and spelling of things, either. They are fact-checkers. Editors have to make sure the newspaper won’t be sued because the word “allegedly” or the phrase “on charges of” was left out. Not to mention the inevitable “pubic” instead of “public” or when a reporter just tries to slip something obscene through just for the fun of it. We’re detail-obsessed – it’s a borderline disorder.

10. Grateful

I probably shouldn’t say this for job-bargaining purposes, but former journalists are the most grateful employees you can have. We’re used to the worst conditions – low pay, understaffed, overworked, furloughs. We feel like we’ve hit the jackpot when we work a straight eight-hour day (during the day!), we get more money, a fair amount of work, and even a bonus! I’ve been a working professional for eight years and didn’t get a bonus until I snagged a marketing gig. I was just relieved at not having to take weeks off without pay! And, I can take vacations whenever I want! I don’t have to schedule them around when other people will be in the office. And I’ve witnessed a Christmas miracle – in that I don’t have to work on Christmas! I get ALL HOLIDAYS OFF!

So, that’s why every company should hire a former journalist. There are a lot more reasons, actually, but I had to keep it at a neat number like 10.

I’d love to see other reasons though, so list ’em below!

3 Tips for finding a job after being laid off

By Tracy Mallette

I was laid off from a job in a suffering industry. As many others before me in this economy, after the initial shock, anger and sorrow, I searched for a new job.

Here are three things that helped me land a new gig:

  1. Don’t limit your search to the same field. Parlay some of your current skills into a new career. I scanned job ads that put a high value on editing and communication abilities regardless of industry. Rather than limiting a search to industry, search for what you’re good at. I scored an interview with a company that investigates fires because they needed an editor.
  2. Learn new skills. Take a break from applying for jobs to teach yourself some new tricks. (Not those tricks; you’re not that desperate yet). I learned HTML/CSS, some Photoshop and other things to help me break into the marketing industry and possibly others, like graphic design. Which brings up another tip; try to learn transferable skills that qualify you for more jobs. I never thought I could learn HTML – too boring – but it’s a valuable skill to have for a variety of positions. Thankfully, there are entertaining ways to learn, and Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML even makes learning HTML interesting. Find a valuable skill, and don’t give up because it seems too hard or dull. See what’s out there for learning tools.
  3. Apply for a lot and don’t give up. 109. I added it up, and that’s how many jobs I applied for before I was hired as a Marketing Coordinator. And it’s what I taught myself while looking for other jobs that gave me the competitive edge needed to secure the position. Part of my job is building HTML emails, and I use HTML every day to build client ad pages on our websites. I also use Photoshop every day so it helped that I started learning the design program. If I’d lost hope, and had given up trying to better myself, I never would’ve secured a new job in a stable industry.

I hope this helps others who find themselves on the outs in their career and need to rebuild. I wish you the best for a happy and secure future.

Please share any encouraging stories of your own.

What’s up with the name of your blog?

By Tracy Mallette

“I made the newspaper!” is a running gag in the newspaper industry.

People seem to think it’s a big deal to make it into the newspaper – like your life meant nothing until your name was in print. (Ha! Another win for the Internet.) When a reporter was mentioned in the newspaper for some reason, he’d announce to the rest of us, “I made the newspaper!” It’s funny because that’s probably all our moms care about – seeing our name in the newspaper for something – even though we actually built the newspaper!

My college Letter From the Editor

Does my college paper’s Letter From the Editor count as making it into the newspaper?

One of the funniest things I remember was an acquaintance of mine getting a job in the marketing department of a local newspaper. That newspaper put a marketing piece about her in the newspaper to highlight their new employee, and her family was so excited that she “made it into the newspaper”. Are you kidding me!? She works in the MARKETING DEPARTMENT – and it’s a MARKETING PIECE! No matter how much I tried to explain the absurdity of it, they didn’t get it.

Anyway, I made the newspaper, although never appeared in it – unless you count the “Letter From the Editor” in my college newspaper. (My picture was even in there!)

After college, I was an editorial assistant for a couple years at a daily newspaper that closed after I left. (I’m sure that’s why).

Then I had a part-time stint as a copy editor for a weekly (my other part-time gig to make ends meet was at Petco), which lasted a few months months until a full-time position emerged at a daily. To this day, I suspect my bosses at the weekly think I used them to get that gig, but I applied for a full-time position at the daily months before I applied for the weekly. It just took forever for the daily to get back to me. I just needed to clear that up a gazillion years later.

Anyway, I worked as a copy editor and page designer for a daily (a few under one hat, actually) until being laid off March 2011. Then I put all my energy into learning new things to better position myself for the future.

That’s it. I made the paper, and now it’s time to move on.

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