It’s beginning to look a lot like, a dismal Christmas — for New York Times staffers. It was announced weeks ago that the world renowned newspaper would be laying off about 100 people from the newsroom.

On Dec. 4 Michael Calderone, of the Politico Web site,  reported that it was “unlikely 100 members of the newsroom will apply for the current buyout offer.” Every member of The Times was “invited” to take a buyout.

Brian Stelter, Times media reporter focusing on TV and Web, made his feelings about the round of layoffs clear

Photo courtesy of Brian Stelter

online.

“I made no secret of the fact that it’s a disheartening process. When I arrived home one Friday night I received my buyout package, like every other employee, and posted on Facebook about how dispiriting it felt,” Stelter wrote in an e-mail.

Following his post, several people made comments suggesting “they’ll never accept your resignation.” These kind words have become familiar for some of Stelter’s coworkers.

“I was heartened to see, on a Facebook post by one person who announced Tuesday that she’s taking the buyout, about 40 comments expressing support and good wishes,” Stelter wrote.

He said The Times has indicated that seniority and performance will be considered during the round of layoffs that will begin in mid-December.

On where Stelter said he sees himself in five, ten years he wrote: “I see myself at The Times as a reporter. On which beat? That’s the part I don’t know yet.”

Stelter joined The Times in July 2007 after graduating from Towson University. He was a nationally recognized blogger, authoring the Web site tvnewser.com.

Are you a leader or a follower?

The advent of Twitter has made it O.K. to be at the back of the pack, for once.

When tracking j-jobs and industry movement and news, “Life After Deadlines” gladly marches behind these pioneering “tweeple.”

Poynter @poynter Reporting on all industry news, the Poynter Institute is at the forefront what is happening to the media world.

@mediaite From the Web: Mediaite is the site for news, information  and smart opinions about print, online and broadcast media,    offering original and immediate assessments of the latest news as   it breaks.

@romensko Who is Romenesko? From the Web: It’s the weblog    formerly known as Jim Romenesko’s MediaNews and, before    that, as Media Gossip. It provides journalists with brief   commentary about (and links to) articles about journalism or journalists.

@mediatwit Mark Glaser. Executive editor of PBS MediaShift and Idea Lab; writer, editor, dad, singer, ridiculous-maker.

@mediadecordernyt A New York Times blog regarding media.

@themediaisdying It’s pretty much what it sounds like.

@brianstelter Former colleague, current New York Times media reporter.

Amid seemingly endless bombardments of lay off news, there are still some organizations seeking qualified candidates.

Are you one of them?

As we college journalism students march into the great unknown, tokened “the real world,” do we still want to be wearing our aprons? Our flair? Our name tags? Do we want to make our four (ahem, -and a half) years of college worth it?

Let us ring out with a resounding YES.

As the old saying goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. But it never hurts to see where the jobs are.

Journalism Jobs is a Web site filled with listings from around the world. Although it does feature a state-by-state breakdown of listings. The big three states with the most j-jobs available are California, New York and Washington D.C. But since this is a Maryland-based blog, Merry Christmas.

The other gem is Mediabistro. While the selection isn’t quite as vast as Journalism Jobs, the listings are more wide in nature to the media industry as a whole. New York, California and New Jersey are the big three here, with Massachusetts narrowly coming in fourth.

Know of any other good jobs sites? Tell your dear author now because he (fingers-crossed) graduates in a week.

Two newsrooms in Detroit have agreed on an alternative to the oh-so-familiar cost cutting strategy of laying off their staffers — furloughs.

This is the first time I’ve heard of news organizations presenting furloughs instead of buy-outs to its reporters. Furloughs, unpaid work days, aren’t pleasant by any stretch and are becoming more commonplace in other professions, including my alma mater, Towson University.

But let us think together. What other cost cutting strategies are out there to keep journos out of the unemployment office?

-Printing costs: Since most newspapers still insist on breathing life into their paper product, shrink the size of your rag and become creative with layout. I’ve seen it happen to Baltimore’s premier newspaper, The Sun, and to its alternative weekly, City Paper.

-The fat: As much as it pains me to say it, there are some people at newspapers that are expendable, but it’s not the journalists, editors or photographers. The more reliable reporters you have on staff the better the coverage will be — a fact many newspapers seem to overlook. I would recommend the alternative that some employees could work off of commission, but never in a million years will I suggest who at any newspaper is less valuable.

-Be bold, get creative: If at the end of the road there is a round of layoffs, go for a joy ride. Try new things. Implement a new ad structure online, throw together extra video coverage, enhance community outreach, something! Go down swinging, not worrying if your job is on the line.

-Go Green: I shudder to think what the electricity bills are at most daily newsrooms. Turn out the lights when the news day comes to close. Use eco-friendly light bulbs. It’s popular, and everyone else is doing it.

By no means do I claim to be all-knowing when it comes to newspaper management. I also can’t imagine the difficulty of being in a position to have to let someone go. One of my Q&A subjects told me that his or her boss actually wept when he had to lay off said individual. But there have to be other courses to take, other than cutting your newsies.

What do you think?

Josh Dombroskie was the journalism student that academic advisors said other students should emulate.

He had a promising under-grad experience that earned him a position at a local newspaper right out of the gate.

But for Josh, the devotion to deadlines became too much. So he sought other, more lucrative, career options.

Photo courtesy of Josh Dombroskie

Where did you work? What was your position? What were your daily responsibilities? How long did you work there?

I worked for the Aegis newspaper in Harford County for almost four months. I was assigned as the “Crime Beat Reporter” when I started, however, my writing duties included much more than that. Features, as well as any other story the editors saw fit fell into my day to day writing.

Why did you decide to leave? What factors contributed to your decision?

There were two main reasons that I decided to leave. The first was that I was unhappy in the profession. It was incredibly stressful and I felt as though I worked all day, having no time to myself. As one of only three reporters at the newspaper, I had to generate much more content than I was comfortable with writing. This led to me believing that the quality of my writing deteriorated because of the amount of stories I needed to generate in such a short period of time. Another job offer came along, nearly doubling my salary, which was the second reason that I decided to leave.

Where do you work now? What is your job title? What are your day to day responsibilities?

I now work for the U.S. Coast Guard’s Surface Forces Logistics Center, Technical Information Management Branch. My job title is Engineering Technician, though I work more with Technical Information than I do with engineering. I am a member of the Drawing Section, in the Tech Info Branch, and we are basically a library for the Coast Guard’s naval engineering drawings. Every blueprint drawing for a cutter or ship in the Coast Guard is managed through my team. My daily responsibilities include managing the drawing traffic, i.e. making sure that drawings are accounted for, checking them out to engineers for revision, sending them to other Coast Guard commands around the country.

Are you content with your decision to leave journalism? Why or why not?

I am very content to leave journalism. As I said before, I felt as though I had no time after work to myself, I felt as though my life was my job. I wanted to be able to have that time to de-stress and unfortunately journalism did not provide that. I am getting married next summer, something I never would have been able to do working in journalism at this point in my life. Starting out in journalism you would not make enough money to support a family, and you would not have the free time you desired to spend with that family. I am grateful for my nine to five government job, as it affords me a higher salary, as well as the opportunity to start a family.

Do you ever see yourself getting back into journalism?

The only way I could see myself getting back into journalism would be to possibly write as a columnist after I retire from government service. A career in the government is just too lucrative to give up to go back to journalism.

What are you views on the industry and where it’s headed?

To tell you the truth, I was burnt out on journalism after i left the profession. I stopped reading news and was just tired of the day to day drama. I was tired of the constant badgering by members of the media on things that I felt were just covered to death. I used to read CNN daily to check out what was happening. After I left journalism, I was tired of reading so many depressing things, so I switched my internet homepage from CNN to ESPN. I haven’t checked the news in the longest time. I feel as though if something were important enough for me to know about, a close friend will tell me. It’s a shame, because I think most people are tired of the “in your face” style of news media these days as well. Things aren’t as relaxing as they were when print media was in its heyday, and that’s the type of news I enjoyed growing up. Anyone can be a journalist these days, and I don’t like that. I thought the end of journalism as I knew it occurred when CNN began their “iReport” section. I don’t think journalism is as reliable as it once was, and I don’t think many people are going to be interested in reading more than breaking news snippets of what happened in the world today. It’s a little bit sad to see what I loved about the industry dying so quickly.

Do you have any advice for students entering the field?

I loved journalism for a long time, and it’s great to be able to reach so many people on a daily basis. If it’s what you love, I’d say stick with it as long as you can. You won’t be making very much money, but if you enjoy communicating with people and bringing them the news, you’ll enjoy it.

You’ve spoken with me before regarding your decisions to leave. You’ve mentioned that it was financially smart for you to move on. Can you clarify this for me?

As I said in the question above, the salary almost doubled for me when I left journalism. I didn’t really see any potential to move up in my position as a reporter, even the editors made less money than I am currently making with the government. I have much more upward mobility working for the Coast Guard, my 25-year-old friend, who also happens to be my boss, is making $73000 a year, and he moved up to that in a pretty short period of time. There is a ceiling on the amount of money you can make in the government as compared to the private sector, but decent money can be earned, with many workers making over $90000 a year. As I also said before, I am getting married, and there is no question that I would not have been able to do that working in journalism.

She was talented. She was dedicated. She used to scream at me daily for comma errors, among other things.

She was my boss at our college newspaper, The Towerlight. And she helped mold me into the solid reporter I am (or like to believe I am) today. I can still hear the screaming. Sigh.

Out of college, she earned a job in journalism — at a small New Jersey newspaper. Months later, she left and now works for a senator. This is the story of Sharon F. Journalism:

Sharon has a sit down meeting with me, Nick DiMarco, to go over a story I wrote.

Where did you work? What was your position? What were your daily responsibilities? How long did you work there?

I worked at The Hub newspaper as a staff reporter for 8 months. My daily responsibilities included preparing story lists, attending council meetings, conducting interviews, assigning photos, etc.

Why did you decide to leave? What factors contributed to your decision?

I was the sole reporter for the paper and it was up to me to provide all of the content, including two front page stories, and assign all the photos for every issue. When the company decided no additional reporters were going to be hired, I decided it was time to find another position that was more of a team effort. When I started at the newspaper I was one of two reporters covering about 10 towns. When the other reporter left the newspaper for another job, the company decided not to replace her. I then became the sole reporter responsible for all 10 towns with no salary increase. I provided all the content for that paper for months and then decided another position would better suit me.

Where do you work now? What is your job title? What are your day to day responsibilities?

I am the director of legislative affairs and communication for a state senator in New Jersey. My responsibilities include attending committee meetings in the state capital, coordinating with the minority office staff, communicating with constituents, drafting correspondence and press releases, working with the office of legislative services to draft bills and resolutions, meeting with lobbyists and local constituents regarding pending legislation, etc.

Are you content with your decision to leave journalism? Why or why not?

While I enjoyed journalism I am also currently at a job that I enjoy. I interact with many different kinds of people and writing is still part of my life.

Do you ever see yourself getting back into journalism?

While I won’t rule it out, I currently don’t see it in my foreseeable future.

What are you views on the industry and where it’s headed?

I think the industry is very obviously headed into a more technology driven atmosphere. One of the main sources of news I read for work has no print counterpart, but gets as much respect as any hard copy newspaper printed in the state.

Do you have any advice for students entering the field?

My advice is to be open to many different kinds of jobs and forms of journalism. Don’t pigeonhole yourself into only one type of reporting and be creative with the kinds of things you apply for because you don’t know where they’ll lead you.

Journalists should take solace in the fact that they’re pretty much the ultimate employees.

Any average newsroom person can meet multiple deadlines to a tee, are familiar with a wide range of Web activity and skills, are master communicators and can write with intelligence. So for you who is considering transitioning out of the news world, John Zhu has something to tell you.

 

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Photo taken from "Matters of Varying Insignificance," a John Zhu blog.

 

 

While the post is more than a year old, I believe the advice still applies, more than ever, today.

I personally don’t know of many veteran reporters who are willingly going to take the leap, but I do know a few recent college grads who made a hasty exit from journalism after realizing it wasn’t for them.

I’d be interested in hearing a dialogue between the seasoned and the green reporters, about the personal choice to leave journalism.

 

**Post compiled from Bryan Sears, Towson Times political reporter/editor.

Between professors and professionals I’ve learned a lot during my four (and a half) years in college. But good advice is always welcome.

The Business Insider recently published a post on “how to survive a media layoff.” While I’m more concerned with how to get a job, rather than say coping with losing it, I still believe that post-grad can be a scary time.

For one thing, my mother (bless her Italian soul) will want to see results from all of her tuition payments. Not to stereotype my people, but if move back home in January and spend my days lounging on the couch watching the “Price is Right” I foresee myself in a lofty bed among the guppies, if you catch my drift.

So give the post a look and then read how I will be handling my time as a college alumnus.

  1. I’ll be looking to a lot of the contacts I’ve developed and fostered over the years to aid me in my job hunt. Some of them will become references on my résumé.
  2. What’s post-grad life without a backpacking excursion to Europe? I fully plan on trekking around the UK and Western Europe next summer. Look for my new blog tentatively titled “The Vespa Diaries” it’s going to be huge.
  3. Doing it. Loving it. Next?
  4. You can follow my life here.
  5. Gimme a break, I’m working on it. Sheesh.

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Once a week the Aging Newspaperman’s Club, a group of men who spent their lives as watchdogs, have lunch in Highlandtown, Baltimore.

Among them is Rafael Alvarez, former Baltimore Sun reporter and current Crabtown scribe. He holds a number of writing jobs in the city including a columnist position for the Investigative Voice Web site.

The man said he knows how to “hustle” his way through writing.

Every Friday they get together and reminisce about old times. This past Friday (the 13th) the gang entertained a few Towson U students enrolled in a literary journalism class.

Mr. Alvarez was kind enough to share some of his wisdom with my camera.

 

 

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Rafael Alvarez, when he was 19 and just starting out at The Sun

 

 

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Rafael Alvarez, today, jokingly posing for his friends with a student's sign--used during a participatory journalism writing assignment

 

The old adage “those who cannot do, teach” should not apply to journalists.

With increasing reports of economic turmoil in the face of a transitioning era in news media, more and more seasoned newsroom veterans are turning to educational outlets for sustainable income, and a chance to shape a new generation of aspiring reporters.

At Towson University the journalism track, under the umbrella of the mass communication department, is rife with former and current reporters, photographers, editors, columnists and page designers. The trend of leaving the newsroom for a spot at the front of the classroom is growing.

“Yes, I’ve already seen an increase in the number of applicants who are current or former journalists,” Jung-Sook Lee, acting chair of the mass communication department, said. “I am assuming that the economic climate in the news industry is one of the factors that contribute to this trend. There may be other reasons.”

Decreased circulations and advertising revenue have been the major factors that have resulted in thousands of news men and women being bought out or laid off. But for three professors at Towson, their stories of departure are vastly different. Read the rest of this entry »