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Newsroom recruiter/staff development coordinator
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newsroom recruiter/staff development coordinator
Detroit Free Press
Why did you become a journalist?
The reasons I became a journalist and the reasons I remain one are different. I started because I love to write and I found that, even though I was a high school student, if I wrote clearly and professionally, people would pay attention to my ideas. Writing gave me a voice and put me on an even level with older adults.
How did you arrive at your current job and what duties does it entail?
I'm a recruiter, which is a very lucky thing to be if you love people. I fell into this job because my editors believed I have patience and listen to other people well. The job has so many parts! When you consider that newspapers are built on creative talent, and it is the recruiter's job to bring in and develop talent, anything goes. I write, interview, call people, visit their schools and the other places where I can find them. It seems I am always finding new ways to try to be a better recruiter.
When you started in journalism, did you ever see yourself in this kind of job? What is the most fun part of your work?
I had never even heard of newspaper recruiting. I suppose I thought I might one day want to be an editor, but not in this way. The greatest thing about this job -- and about journalism -- is working with other people to make a difference.
Are you a news junkie when you're not working?
Pretty much. Most of my car's radio buttons are on news stations, and I buy any new newspaper I come across in my travels. The sad thing is that, as a recruiter, I sometimes read the bylines and photo credits before I read the headlines.
What are you looking for when you recruit newsroom staffers?
Oh, a lot of things. Skills are basic. Can they do the job? Do they have news judgment? But I want to look deeper. WILL they do the job -- and WHY? I want to work with people who see newspapering as a public trust -- as an important responsibility that they are privileged to have. They will work the hardest and with the highest ethical and journalistic standards. So, I look for characteristics. Those don't change very much. One can learn to write a narrative story, and one can learn to cover City Hall, but unless a person is already curious, caring and concerned about the community, I don't know how you add that.
What's the job market like these days for starting journalists?
In 2001, the market for journalists is weak. This is a temporary condition. Demographics -- which far outweigh economics -- say that we are heading into a long, long period in which there will be a labor shortage. We can see it already as people talk about shortages of teachers and nurses. Journalists are no different. They will be in demand. People who survive the weak job market of 2001 will have opportunities. It happened to me. I came out of school the same year "All the President's Men" came out. It was a movie that made everyone want to be a journalist. There were way too many of us. But, somehow, those who survived that tough year have become successful and happy journalists.
How have newsroom jobs changed in the last five years? Are there some jobs more in demand than others?
The chief change has been the move of technology -- for the Web, for paginating and for picture editing -- into the newsroom. Those jobs are hot, hot, hot. Reporting has swung away somewhat from covering government, courts and schools to covering private business. One thing that has not changed? Copy editing. It has always been a hot field -- and increased technology in the newsroom has made it even hotter.
What advice do you have for aspiring journalists?
If you want to be a journalist, lead with you heart. Lead with who you really are. Don't lose yourself in the process -- grow yourself. We're interested in the natural you -- with your journalistic skills- - and not in some cookie cutter journalist. There are as many ways to report a story as there are to write, and we want all of them. Go to school on other journalists. Read the best work, look at the best images and design, and figure out how it works and why you like it. Make it your own. Take advantage of every opportunity to advance journalistically. Keep moving and you'll get there -- especially if you start while you're in high school.