Journalism Woes

I’ve always made a point to do my best when I’ve been given a job, and doubly so when I’m being paid. I hated working at Dairy Queen every single day that I was there – my feet hurt, the customers all deserved to be punched repeatedly, and my more than three-quarters of the people I worked with were lazy, belligerent slobs. But when I was in charge in Chill in the summertime, I ran it like I’d been born to do it. I cleaned. I made sure the product I was handing out was presentable. I earned three commendation pins in six weeks, and customers asked for me by name when they wanted something done right.

This past academic year, I’ve been getting paid to do something I actually love to do: write. Granted, it’s journalism, not fiction, but it’s still writing, and it’s still getting my name out there and creating a platform for when I start submitting queries to agents and the like.

I started out doing a weekly opinion column every Friday, the topics of which I tried to focus around geekery – Kindles, my favorite author, the RP and geek culture, etc. I talked about graphic novels, fanfiction, and once I bemoaned the fact that people who frequent fast food establishments are generally inconsiderate morons.

After the spring semester started, I got bumped to news reporting and the occasional feature article, and suddenly instead of sitting down for less than an hour and churning out a 400-500 word article about why I think Neil Gaiman should be canonized, I spend three or four hours a day tracking down sources, getting interviews done either via phone or email (I don’t do too well in person, for some reason), squishing everything together in 400-500 words, and then editing it. Which is great, I love being busy, and I love what I’m doing, and I love getting paid to do something I’m good at. My boss is very keen on helping me learn how to actually write news pieces – my first article made it very clear that I was used to writing fiction – and it’s always nice when a source emails be about an article I interviewed them for and tells me I did a great job. Dr. Robert Hunter of ISU nearly brought me to tears with his compliments, both in an email and in a subsequent interview, in regards to the story that I wrote about the unrest in the Middle East.

I guess I just wish that I got paid more. I mean, yeah, it’s a student publication and I do maximum three stories a week, but I get paid in the single digits per article, and that’s before taxes are taken out. When I was just sitting down to write my weekly column, that was fine, because I was putting half an hour into it, and I didn’t have to do edits – it just went straight to print. Less than ten bucks for that? Absolutely. But when I’m spending fifteen hours a week working on this stuff, and then I’m getting paid roughly fifteen bucks a week… that just doesn’t sit right with me. I understand that I don’t work in an office, so I don’t get paid hourly. But this stuff takes a lot of legwork, and right now I just kind of feel like bitching about it.

In other news, here look at some stuff I cross-stitched:

Ta-ta for now, chillens.

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About Kayla Rose

Leave me alone, let me drink my tea and write my snark.

Posted on March 17, 2011, in Journalism, Work, Writing. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Well, if it makes you feel any better, my freelance story runs in tomorrow’s NYT — and I had to drive six (!) hours to report it, from home and back. That plus writing and rewriting significantly lowered my hourly rate. Welcome to journalism! It almost always pays poorly, so the best skill it will teach you — I’ve been doing it since college, 30 years (also an author) — is super-efficient time management. i.e the faster (but still very well done) you can produce it, the higher your hourly rate.

    My last staff job was at the NY Daily News and the best thing I learned while working there was to stop over-researching. Their smart tabloid motto — get the quote!

    I’ll be posting tomorrow on my blog about some of the most fun assignments I’ve ever had. Hope you’ll stop by!

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