If this isn’t worrisome, I don’t know what is

Image result for newsroom meetingIt’s no secret that the current administration sees the media — at least those who don’t lavish praise and recognize how great things are going — as the enemy of the people, as well as the state. And, at least in the back of their collective mind, there are undoubtedly some who are reconsidering what they write or say or air.

Look, I get it. I was never that political before this election. I certainly never posted to social media to the degree I now do. And there are those in my family who think I should just shut up or at least dial it back, especially since I’m looking for a job. They’re afraid my rantings will work against me. They may have a point.

So it was with a great deal of fear and sadness that I read this piece from The New York Times the other day: “In Trump Era, Censorship May Start in the Newsroom.”

This is how the muzzling starts: not with a boot on your neck, but with the fear of one that runs so deep that you muzzle yourself.

Maybe it’s the story you decide against doing because it’s liable to provoke a press-bullying president to put the power of his office behind his attempt to destroy your reputation by falsely calling your journalism “fake.”

Maybe it’s the line you hold back from your script or your article because it could trigger a federal leak investigation into you and your sources (so, yeah, jail).

Or, maybe it’s the commentary you spike because you’re a publicly supported news channel and you worry it will cost your station its federal financing.

Or, maybe it’s the re-posting of sentiments like this.

The article, written by Jim Rutenberg, concludes, “In a week in which Congress is calling for a leak investigation into stories in The Washington Post, The New York Times and CNN that led to Michael T. Flynn’s forced resignation as national security adviser, heroism is what’s called for. Hopefully there’s enough of it to go around.”

Amen, brother.


Adapt or die

AKA, “More resume blues.”

In my job search travels, I signed up for a few more online boards. One of these offered a free resume review. I figured, what the heck, and sent mine in.

Guess what?!?

Your resume has been flagged as one that will benefit greatly from the skilled attention of a professional resume writer!

Of course it was!

Can you imagine anyone sending one in for review and not getting this message?

Can’t say I was too surprised when the report came back indicating that my cv basically sucked. No sugar-coating. One thing I did appreciate was the “science” behind it. According to this service, employers use some sort of scanning software that picks up key words and phrases and my resume came in very low on that metric.

93% of all Hiring Managers use a resume scanning software to filter candidates from the application pool. To illustrate how you stand up to the automation, I passed your resume through the very same software that Hiring Managers use to filter the real talent from the hundreds, sometimes thousands, of candidates that apply for a single open position.

Even though I have [mumble-mumble] years of experience with what amounts to basically two jobs, my skills are apparently and disappointingly minimal. And even though my last job — editor at a weekly newspaper for more than 10 years — was demanding, creative, responsible, etc., this service deemed those achievements suitable to a position as  “business operations or general business” or administrative or clerical.

The only nice thing they had to say?

“Good news: your resume is saved in a recent version of Microsoft Word. An overwhelming majority of resumes look like yours and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) love it.

Eff you.

The problems with these new methods are they have no soul. They look at a few words on a page and put you into a slot. I guess the fact that I listed awards and citations I have received for my work meant nothing because it didn’t fit into one of the categories.

I could go on, but people of my age will certainly get my point. An old friend of mine recently sent me a job me he found while looking for employment. He had been working for a tech company more about 35 years then suddenly found himself with a job — along with two other colleagues with roughly the same time in and ages. Hmm, can you say ageism lawsuit? I knew you could.

On the other hand, I guess there’s no spitting into the wind or raging against the machine or any other metaphor that might apply in this situation of trying to buck the new system. I don’t want to say that time has passed me by while working at the paper for this period, but things sure have changed.

But I have to wonder if there’s even a real person reviewing these resumes, or if they’re just scanning robots?

Weekend Worriers (journalism)

I didn’t want to bundle this in with the previous worries because I find this more disturbing personally.

In last Sunday’s Times Liz Spayd took “A Hard Look at Times Editing in the Digital Era” by in her “Public Editor” column.

As many of you know, newspapers are bleeding out. Attrition is claiming many victims as print media slowly dwindles.

From the article:

Its editing architecture, originally constructed in the bountiful days of print, allows for multiple layers of editing that help keep copy clean and errors to a minimum. Except for breaking news, most stories are reviewed by three editors, with up to six or more if the article is headed for home page prominence or A1.

Soon this conveyor will be replaced by a bespoke editing system built primarily around digital. The specifics of how it will work are not final, but it is aimed at answering questions like: What is the maximum speed at which a story should travel from a reporter to the website? What is the minimum number of editors who should see it? What role should reporters play in taking ownership of their story and its presentation to readers, including photos, video and embedded tweets? And how can these changes be made to maximize the power and presence of visuals throughout The Times’s report?

Emphasis added.

I left my editorial post in September (somewhat unwillingly, but stuff happens) as did another person who was an excellent “set of eyes” for all aspects: stories, advertisements, etc. The managing editor left a few months later. It’s not sour grapes to point out that there are a lot more mistakes getting through since the new management came on board. In my travels I frequently come across subscribers who ask, “What happened to the paper?” and pointing out how the publication has shrunk and the flubs that get through. Well, what do you expect when you let go the people who are charged with protecting the product?

Just makes me more worried about ever finding a job like I had if this is going to be the new normal.


Weekend worriers (political)

https://i0.wp.com/4vector.com/i/free-vector-angry-at-the-news-clip-art_107358_Angry_At_The_News_clip_art_hight.pngIf you think reading a newspaper during the week is bad (assuming that you actually read a newspaper, that is), the Sunday section is even worse. At least it is for The New York Times.

Now I have to admit, prior to this election cycle, I probably wasn’t the most informed citizen in the world. But since November, unless you have your head in the sand, it’s impossible not to be involved unless you voted for Trump and are just content to sit back, put up your feet, and gloat over the pain of the bleeding-heart liberals.

Every day there’s another op-ed commenting on the latest Executive Order or GOP move  that threatens the American way of life, if you believe immigrants helped build the United States or that public education is important or that people who aren’t qualified to run a cabinet post shouldn’t, regardless of how rich they are or how successful they might be in a totally unrelated field.

Sundays are worse because you have a whole section devoted to reviewing the week. So that’s more opinion pieces to sift through, almost all of which lead to outrage and high blood pressure. It’s exhausting.

Oh, you got to have friends…

Image result for lots of friends

I have a lot of great people looking our for me. I can’t thank them enough. Unfortunately, all their suggestions, prompts, networking, etc., have — so far — not even garnered an interview. It’s not their fault, it’s not my fault, it’s not the fault of the people these degrees of separation are reaching.

Case in point, one of our good friends reached out to one of her friends. Below is the letter she received in response. I have changed as much of the details as possible to preserve everyone’s anonymity and still keep the message.

My own connections at [organization] are tenuous at this point, because the organization has changed so much since I was there (new CEO taking over just as I left), and the communications dept was totally overhauled, with an emphasis on social media and making ads rather than real writing.  However, one never knows.  The name of the person to contact is the head of Human Resources….. If they are still operating as they did when I was there, resumes passed along through other channels are not so welcome.  But, if you would send me the resume, I’ll also forward it to the head of the department I worked in, in case something has opened up in proposal writing. Your friend would then know whether such outreach to … might be productive.
I am sorry your friend is in such a tough position, because he sounds really experienced and qualified.  New Jersey Jewish News has changed and slimmed down a lot, as has the Star Ledger. Print journalism is really suffering right now — and just at the moment when we need a strong and independent press! Unfortunately, at the very same time, … organizations that once hired strong writers have also gotten weaker, and those that still have budgets seem to be hiring kids who write for the web and make videos with their phones.  It’s got to be frustrating for all the good writers out there.  Colleges and universities might be good places to look, as well as other cultural institutions, as they still publish nice annual and trustee reports, do proposals to funders, have correspondence to get out, and do promotional writing of all kinds that lands in print media.  I really wish your friend luck with his search.

Emphases added.

And with all dues modesty, yes, it is exceedingly frustrating.

And so it goes.

Problem is, I spent 22 years at one job prior to the newspaper, and another dozen at the paper, so my skill set is very specialized. I’m a quick study and have already taken it upon myself to learn the new paradigms. The question is, will someone give me a chance?

Again, thanks to all of you who have offered suggestions or contacts. The drinks are on me if one of these leads leads to something.