August 7, 2009

A job for you, a job for me: Suggestions flying in

Somehow, I started out reading Time's "Killing the News to Save It" - a piece about - when I was distracted by its Top 10 lists and other links scattered throughout the article. There were 10 ways your job will change and 10 perfect jobs for in a recession plus Top 10 Newspaper Movies if the search gets you down.

Then, I'm sent a link to Over on Time Out: New York,where Matt Schneiderman offers new career ideas for those (once) in media, with a paragraph on why and how to get each job.
  • Publicist
  • Editorial strategist
  • Grant writer
  • Project manager
  • Private investigator
Read through the comments and you'll get two more ideas: social media marketer and ghostwriting. They are probably more doable for me then the recession-proof ideas:
  1. Accountant
  2. Entrepreneur
  3. Police Officer
  4. Network and Computer Systems
  5. Nurse
  6. Nutritionist
  7. Physical Therapist
  8. Teacher
  9. Mathematician
  10. Government Manager
The Time article didn't have much new to say if you've been following the story. There's the couple who miss the Ann Arbor News and would've paid more if only they knew; there's a rundown on who is gathering the news - Michigan Daily, Ann Arbor Observer, Ann Arbor Journal, Ann Arbor Chronicle; and there are the mandatory quotes from a University of Michigan professor and a resident who doesn't like the killing of the old for a bright shiny new thing.

Publisher Matt Kraner gives us the three reasons why this place, why now:
  1. Ann Arbor is an extremely Web-savvy market, probably the most Web-savvy Newhouse has.
  2. The market, with its high-tech industries, is very open to new ideas and new concepts.
  3. The market has passion for its community.
There's even mention of how community decides which ad/deal gets top billing on the Sunday front page of the print edition.

That all helps lead to the ending:
"Whatever the ultimate outcome of the Ann Arbor community-content experiment, it's already proved one thing: the content part is easy; the community part is not."

More fun to read is the Muffin blog post from a journalist whose husband helped launch the Business Reviews in Michigan's Oakland and Washtenaw counties. Christine Kilpatrick says it's all about managing expectations with the proper explanations.
“I’ve got a homemade muffin for you. It’s just a practice muffin before I make the good ones for Benny’s preschool. It’s a pumpkin-and-chocolate-chip muffin, but there aren’t many chocolate chips because I ate half the bag while mixing the other ingredients. My oven doesn’t heat evenly, so the muffin’s kind of lopsided as if it was trying to escape its pan. Oh, and I burned it a little too.
Now, just imagine what happens when you bite into a muffin like that and it tastes pretty good. Not great, but OK. Plus, the cook already has shown she knows what she has to work on so we'll just wait for the next batch.

Still, every time I picture that post I think about the Seinfeld show on muffin tops. A former boss takes Elaine's idea of a business selling the muffin tops and dumping the muffin stumps and Kramer starts the Peterman Reality Bus Tour. It's also the one where George says:
"You know, if you take everything I've done in my entire life and condense it down into one day, it looks decent."
I'm still optimistic enough to believe that at least one of these Michigan experiments in news - Detroit, Great Lakes Bay Region formerly known as Flint-Saginaw-Bay City or Ann Arbor -will turn into something satisfying given enough time.

I'm glad Free From Editors led us to this gem written by a woman who was delighted to return to Michigan and equally happy to leave despite a rough start in California.

Another peek over there found a Booth Newspapers version of Camelot that includes these lines:
"Back then we never worked too late on Friday
At 37-and-a-half we stopped
The benefits and pay were sweet in my day
In Camelot.

All layoffs were forbidden till forever
They never had to fear a union shop
Our health-care would be paid for, ending never,
In Camelot"
OK, I'm supposed to be working on two projects that never end. How busy am I? I didn't even know Twitter was gone or Facebook was slow until it wasn't.

August 6, 2009

Talking about Advance from Oregon to New Jersey; There's pain, envy, honors

Some daily newspaper publishers in Advance Publications went beyond ending a job pledge in staff announcements Wednesday.

Many at Newhouse-owned daily newspapers heard that starting Feb. 5 the company no longer will guarantee jobs even if the economy stinks or technology could allow staff reductions.

Steve Newhouse, who heads up, tells Richard Perez-Pena:
“I think the policy was meant for a time when the newspaper business had ups and downs, but was relatively stable. It was not meant for a time when our newspapers, like others, are struggling to survive.”
Newhouse told Editor & Publisher no layoffs are planned, saying the notification is "an alert that we need the flexibility to take the steps to address our newspapers' revenue decline."
"As all of us are working to keep our daily newspapers going, the pledge in many respects became a deterrent to actions that could actually save the daily newspapers and jobs for the majority of employees"
The Oregonian staff will take six more days off without pay in the first six months of 2010 and start paying for part of its health care benefit, according to Williamette Week. That news was in addition to notice of the ending of the Advance Publications job pledge. The Portland Business Journal told us to expect details on Thursday, but the announcement came out early.

Publisher Fred Stickel said that all Oregonian employees would be required to pay a portion of the premium for their health care, depending on income level, starting Jan 1. Employees hired before 2005 had not been required to contribute to the cost of coverage for themselves or their family.

In March, The Oregonian staff had pensions frozen, pay cuts of 5 to 10 percent and were required to take four unpaid furlough days. That same month, many Advance daily newspaper staffs learned of frozen pensions, pay cuts and 10 days off without pay.

In Alabama, Media of Birminham is reporting (as part of its post on the no-layoffs out announcement) that staffers with at least 5 years at the Birmingham News were offered buyouts, two weeks salary for every year (six month maximum).

The day caused anxiety for some. There was this Tweet:
Boss has called an all-hands meeting ... feeling anxious, as in anxiety - not eager
followed shortly by:
Well, the news wasn't that bad. We just don't have a guaranteed job pledge as of February

Notice is "old Newhouse"

The fact that the Newhouse organization gave its daily newspapers' employees six months warning that the pledge of no layoffs will end Feb. 5 was called "an element of the chain’s old paternalism" by Perez-Pena, who blogs in Media Coder for the New York Times.

Blogof called it a bad day at 3800 Howard, while noting:
"The pledge was a lovely thing in theory, but it was hardly legally binding; the life of a newspaper employee isn’t a civil-service sinecure, with all its perqs and guarantees. The days of big-city dailies as fat-and-lazy “velvet coffins” where people remain for decades are gone forever. It’s possible to foresee a day when big-city dailies are gone forever, too."
Perez-Pena also said that Advance would not say whether its newspapers remain profitable. (Advance newspapers include The Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey; the Staten Island Advance and Post-Standard in New York; The Times-Picayune of New Orleans; the Grand Rapids Press; the Muskegon Chronicle; the Kalamazoo Gazette; the Jackson Citizen Patriot; Cleveland Plain Dealer; The Patriot News in Pennsylvania and the Huntsville Times in Alabama).

Don't wait, get resume ready

Reaction to an article on the announcement in Pennsylvania by Express-Times, publisher Martin K. Till includes this advice:

"Riiiight. If I worked at any of Advance's newspapers, I wouldn't be sitting around, twiddling my thumbs and waiting for Feb. 6 to roll around, after hearing this announcement. "No specific plans" to lay anyone off doesn't mean they won't lay people off the first chance they get."

In a letter Wednesday to employees, Till said the change is needed to allow the company more flexibility in managing the economic downturn.
"While we are reluctant to make this decision, it is necessary for the long-term survival of our newspaper, and the long-term survival of most jobs."
The newspaper employs about 270 and reported a 1.3 increase in daily circulation and Sunday circulation holding steady through March. Changes this year included 20 employees accepting voluntary buyouts, all employees taking 10 days off without pay, salaries frozen, retirement plans switched, and employees paying an increased share of health benefits.

The newpaper also began joint distribution with The Morning Call of Allentown and opened depots at central locations instead of delivering bundles to most carriers homes.

The publisher, like others, wants to steady the course:
"Our goal is to remain a daily newspaper, printed and distributed seven days a week. We have been serving readers and advertisers in our community in this fashion for 150 years."

Honors for consultant

University of Missouri just announced that Advance consultant Deborah Howell will get one of 7 2009 Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism.

Deborah Howell, who led the Newhouse Washington Bureau for 15 years, returned to Advance after spending about three years as ombudsman at the Washington Post.

It's not funny to some

Is there anything more serious then the funny pages? Editor & Publisher reported that a week after cutting six comic strips and moving a half-page of the daily funnies to another location -- which drew some 1,200 complaints -- The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. has returned Pickles and Frazz to print. The original move was to save the company $300,000.

Not quite so funny, but usually entertaining is the Jersey Guy. He used to do Jersey People, but now focues more attention on what's up with the site where he oversees content.

By the way, Michigan folks missing their daily dose of comics could visit to sneak a peek. Or look at daily offerings.

Some earlier links

By the way, I updated some links in an earlier post on the job pledge, including:
Publisher's letter emphasizes job pledge for daily newspapers and the post that led me to the letter.

Two newsroom employees sent to mailroom. (Actually, it's a link to a post about the job change for two Star-Ledger employees who didn't take a buyout as the Editor & Publisher article is unreachable. I like Paper Tiger No More's version of the events, too. I spent too much time trying to learn if reporter Jason Jett and Assistant Deputy Photo Editor Mitchell Seidel are in the newsroom still.)

Some other links

Free From Editors and the Daily Derelict heard from some Michigan newspaper folks that they also heard about the rescinding of the job pledge in staff meetings or letters on Wednesday.

Receptionists may be going
the way of newspaper subscriptions at Conde Nast, the magazine branch of the family. We've got the New York Magazine and Gawker reporting that the secretaries finish up work Friday. The New York Observer calls it D.Y.I. Reception for Vogue and other magazines

Did you check out McKinsey's second trip to Conde Nast or Si Newhouse's Dream Factory or Did Conde Nast call in its sweetheart loan to Annie Leibovitz? (That last one is Gawker's chance to talk again about how the family sometimes is in the mortgage business.)

The magazines are such a different world from the Advance newspapers. Here, a quote from a New York Times article on Vogue, a magazine about "wish fulfillment and escapism":
"It’s not uncommon at a top American magazine, editors say, to spend $5,000 a day just on food at a shoot. In this regard, European glossies are practically tightwads."
Really, who needs a water cooler or has to stand in line for groceries when the Internet is so willing to serve.

Oh no! Vehicle, not guns, killed swans

I was checking a link on when I learned no gun was involved in the death of the swans in the Ann Arbor region. In fact, "the agency originally suspected gunshot wounds based on the conservation officer's visual inspection of the carcasses at the site Saturday morning."

All the Tweets for nothing. Especially the tweet that called the story "breaking." Really. Three dead swans qualified as breaking news to someone staffing the Twitter account.

There were six stories/postings about the swans on, a tease (see photo) on page one on the print edition delivered on Sunday. There was a slideshow and a $5,000 reward even.

Fortunately, the site usually does better.

August 5, 2009

Advance Publications ending job pledge

Sometimes, I hate being right, Last night and early this morning, I noticed the searches for Advance Publications and jobs pledge were way up plus, the traffic from cities where Newhouse newspapers originate was up ... way up. So this Editor & Publisher article on Advance ending job pledge not surprising.

I think Advance signaled its intentions long ago when higher ups clarified the pledge was for full-time staff only. When The Flint Journal bought a bunch of weekly newspapers, employees learned the pledge was for those working for the daily only. Of course, that daily only guarantee was one of the drawbacks of the three Michigan newspapers - Flint Journal, Bay City Times and Saginaw News - publishing three times a week starting June 1.

The pledge never guaranteed you kept your job. I'm looking for the link* to an article about newsroom employees in New Jersey booted to the mailroom. I remember hearing the Flint publisher telling some employees we could be pushing brooms, not punching keyboards, if enough employees did not accept company buyouts. I remember the new post carved out for me.

But, then I stopped believing in the corporate gods when I met the man who learned he was replaced when he walked into his empty office at a major car company - 1978. That belief was reinforced when I saw the in writing, "guaranteed lifetime medical benefits" no matter what erased for my stepdad with a company ownership change in name only. The bosses, paychecks, rules and more stayed the same for employees as the expensive incentives for early retirees were wiped out. That was 1987. Too many tales like that, aren't there.

The real job pledge is the one you make to yourself - keep learning, keep growing and keep saving.

(*It's a link to a blog post, the original story seems to have "left" the Internet.)

New jobs: Building on skills, interests leads to non-media jobs

A newspaper designer who started her own firm and a former business editor who became a financial planner are two of the latest career changers featured in Joe Grimm's ongoing Monday series.

When Tiffany Hurt's post as a designer at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was eliminated she became creative director at a her own graphic design business, Immanuel Designs, LLC. Learn how networking helped her make the transition and benefit from some of her hints.

David McPherson started planning his new business before leaving the Providence Journal. McPherson shares what he wishes he had done differently and why he left.

Joe Grimm, who left the Detroit Free Press a year ago, talked about his experiences post buyout in an online chat with Poynter last week. You can still read what was said online. (He ended his career at the press with an ice cream party. The last year has included teaching at Michigan State University, spending five weeks with high school students, delivering speeches - including one to copy editors, hosting many chats and Twittering and Twittering and blogging and blogging and answering questions as a recruiter.

Want to keep reading about people who moved out of media jobs into new ones? I looked at the growng number of people looking at the growing number leaving, or read Beyond the Buyout, Beyond the Byline or pick up a few ideas on surviving in Buyout journalists, remember this or Journalists not the first to start over or Talent will outlast jobs or careers.

August 4, 2009

Solveris: Was Condé Nast's Decision To Stop Paying For Newspapers Smart?

Solveris: Was Condé Nast's Decision To Stop Paying For Newspapers Smart?

News choice: Some like it hot, some like it cold, I want it all

So many choices for news these days.

This comic was shared with me awhile back and I tried to read the artist's name to track the original. No luck.

It's the same frustration I face when I read an Associated Press story and try to determine where the story originated. If possible, I'd like to link to the original source.

I try to remember to leave comments, including "likes" on the original source of blog posts but that gets harder and harder as I expand my river of influencers. There are my friends who publish notes and posts on Facebook. Others share via Google Reader or FriendFeed.

My latest frustrations are with two Michgian online news sources. One offers only partial posts in its feed, a move I'm sure it hopes drives me to its site to view ads Unfortunately, what I get rarely is attractive enough to entice. To its credit, though, the short post in its feed includes an author. The other news source leaves off the author. Plus, I can't figure out the reasoning behind why some posts are the whole thing and some are not. Perhaps it is time to stop the feeds.

Journalists band together to offer services

If imitation is flattering, then the California photojournalists behind the ProPhotography Network are flying high with with the launch of The Journalism Shop.

The former Los Angeles Times employees, including former Detroit News reporter Scott Martelle (September 1986 – July 1995,) will match your needs with their skills:
  • If you're looking for someone to report and write a traditional piece of journalism, check out the "Reporting" page.
  • Veteran writers interested in tackling non-journalism projects, including public relations, ghost-writing and corporate (for-profit and nonprofit) reports, can be found on the "PR/Marketing" page.
  • Experienced page designers, copy editors and line editors are on the "Design/Editing" page.
  • Skilled project managers can be found on the "Projects" page.
  • Experienced librarians and researchers can be found at the "Research" page.
And, of course, if what you want isn't listed just send an email and someone will match you up.

Martelle, who took a lead role in developing the web site with Brett Levy, blogs about it in "A new web venture for a bunch of us laid-off journos."

It's an idea others - including alumni of the Hartford Courant - have considered.

(By the way, Levy writes DadTalk when he's not doing a "new web venture" or keeping WriteThru together. WriteThu is Levy's attempt to help launch the new renaissance of journalism. The first mission is "offer affordable, if not free, educational webinars on how to use all these new-fangled publishing tools." He even defines success:

"... those who go out there and create a weblog or create a hyper local news site. After all, any journalist can launch a blog or website in just an hour at no or little cost with ZERO technical abilities."

August 3, 2009

Son follows father into top role at Advance's business journals

Whitney Shaw has been named president and chief executive of American City Business Journals, according to S. I. Newhouse Jr., chairman of ACBJ parent company Advance Publications

Shaw, son of late CEO Ray Shaw, has been tapped to lead the 40-newspaper chain. Formerly the company’s senior vice president and president of its sports publishing division, Shaw moves into the job two weeks after his father died at age 75 from complications following a wasp sting.

Shaw's brother added executive vice president to his title, while remaining the chief financial officer.

Additionally, American City’s sports publications include Sporting News, NASCAR Scene, Sports Business Journal and Inside Lacrosse. It also publishes Hemmings Motor News.

The full press release is on, which the American Business Journals took over this spring.

Blogging nightmares come from missing dreams, words

The responsibilities of blogging overwhelm me at times. So does this ongoing struggle of how to define yourself to others.

Honestly, I thought I had found - and republished - all the missing posts dropped in an early-morning mishap. Honestly, I thought my husband was teasing when he said the blog was all messed up today.

And health wise, I was sure I was up to a session of batch-cooking until the stove heat delivered an ultimatum of "rest NOW." That rest order let me catch up on some reading, including G.D. Gearino's post on interviewing the interviewer. This paragraph stops me:
"When Donald asked what, exactly, my title was, I declared that “blogger” didn’t have have sufficient dignity and that instead I preferred “creator of online literature.” "
Even though he explains the answer was a wiseguy's reply, I think it reveals an uncomfortableness some struggle to shake when they move away from a media-company paycheck.

Dream Bigger blog blinder

Gearino, who I first met when he was just Dan Gearino, not G.D., and came to report for my former employer, is paying the bills with a Stephenville Dreams blog, also called Dream Bigger Blog. As I wrote in In search of dreams: Company paying for blogging, I struggled with who signed Gearino's new paycheck. But this question:
"Is the artist's integrity compromised by accepting that commission?"
helped me realize it was my traditional journalism background that led to my uneasiness. Still, when I read where he's living - right there in the 111-year-old home that is serving as its headquarters for the "Sleep Better, Dream Bigger" initiative, surrounded by the "innovative sleep products" - the uneasiness comes back. What erases the feeling is reading Gearino's blogging.

Today's rest-reading time also alerted me to Jim Romensko's noting a Fast Company post: Ex-N&O columnist's blog walks the line between journalism and marketing.

Chuck Salter writes about Gearino's latest venture in From a Texas Small Town and a Bedding Company, the Future of Journalism, Marketing, or Both.

Salter notes that the rapid layoffs of journalists is leading to new models and writes:
"Maybe there's a role for corporate-sponsored journalism and a way to do it without turning writers into NASCAR drivers or shills -- starting with the corporate sponsor keeping a safe distance from the journalism. Of course, if it doesn't help sell more bedding, dream on."
In the Fast Company post, Salters says that the project reminds Gearino of " the Federal Writer Project, when the government paid thousands of writers, including the likes of John Cheever, Saul Bellow and Studs Terkel to capture everyday life during the Depression."

Is Dream blog an answer?

This excerpt of a comment, by Mouli Cohen, reminds us that:
"Many of the stories from Stephenville Dreams are the same kinds of long form reporting that everyone fears will be lost with the demise of traditional media.I suppose one's feelings on this are a matter of whether you want to save traditional media outlets or traditional journalists. Keep the storytellers."
Cohen expands on his comments in Reporting plus marketing equals one future of journalism, asking
"Needless to say, it will be interesting to see if this project is merely a flash in the pan or something that will inspire an industry wide trend in the way our stories are reported."
Gearino is indeed a storyteller and, as he reminded me, storytellers still get bills.

More about Gearino's dream job

Gearino's new blog also is examined in a Future of Journalism post, "Journalist in bed with corporate sponsor." Its ending is worth your visit. So is Gearino's "regular blog" once he returns to writing that.

Gary Scott brings on lots of questions on Gearino's job in "Strange bedfellows"

An official press release - Texas Town Overcome by Sleep - is out Aug. 3. Or read about the venture through Furniture Today or even
Sweet dreams and high hopes
, which was published July 31 in the Stephenville Empire-Tribune

Oh, by the way San Antonio may try to recruit Gearino next-- or at least the bigger dreams campaign.

Here, then gone, back again

This whirl of references to Gearino's blog today helped me discover some lost postings including my original take on Gearino's new job. I believe I've restored the lost posts with the original publication dates, but if I'm wrong let me know.