Monday, October 25, 2004

Testy copy eds

A rather sobering piece on the opening page of Testy Copy Editors from Darryl McGrath about the value -- or lack thereof -- of a journalism degree, specifically a master's from Columbia. Particuarly touching me was this:
My last all-out search for a full-time reporting job, in 1999, was a real awakening. I interviewed at papers in the Midwest and the Southwest, most of them Pulitzer Prize-winners with national reputations. I had the distinct feeling that no one really knew what to do with a 41-year-old woman who still wanted to be a reporter. The other reporters assigned to host me during the obligatory get-to-know-us lunches during these interview trips were mostly in their 20s and even they seemed to be wondering what I was doing there.

One editor at the Des Moines Register who interviewed me during this job search almost laughed when I told him, in response to a direct question, that I wanted a starting salary of $50,000. He was thinking maybe $41,000. Another reporter I know was hired at one of these Pulitzer-Prize-winning newspapers, and she did start at $41,000. And when she told the hiring editor that $41,000 was too low for someone with her considerable skills and experience, he pretty much told her she could take it or go fly a kite.
I remember reading how the head honcho at Maxim once reportedly said, in essence, we need more 20-year-old reporters and 30-year-old editors. And, yes, we do. But we also need some 40- and 50-year-olds who have been around the block a few times.

Beware an industry running scared ...

Also over at TCE, a rather frightening discussion about a newspaper's story on Sen. Tom Daschle and abortion. I don't know the age of the reporter, but consider it Exhibit A of the need for a more measured hand, in this case the copy editor.


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