I am the editor of a weekly newspaper for a small town in Georgia. I came into this position over 20 years ago. When I first moved here there was a small weekly paper run by an elderly couple. They had been in the newspaper business for over 40 years at the time. The paper, which had once been great, was beginning to falter. At the time I came to town, there was no such thing as Internet for everyone. It has really changed the newspaper business.
Although I never had to use any type of technology in my job searches, I use it when I am hiring. I post job openings on both Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com as well as a website for small newspapers here in the south. For interns, I send an email to the colleges here in Georgia, which include UGA, Georgia Southern and Georgia College. The colleges then put my opening on their job boards for the students.
When I am considering hiring a student to do an internship, I see if they have a Facebook account. If they do and have their profiles private where I can’t see them, I stop and go no further. However, if the profiles are public I look through their pictures and postings. If I see lewd pictures, lots of drinking and lots of profanity, they don’t get the job. That may sound unfair, but people who work for me are not just representing themselves. They are representing me, my paper and they are representing this town.
Technology has changed the newspaper business. We don’t do the old-fashioned layouts any longer. Now, the paper is laid out on the computer screen. We’ve had to compete with other newspapers in the area and form an online version of the paper as well as our printed weekly version. My regular columnists are now responsible for their printed column as well as three additional columns that go online each week.
News gets told now as soon as it happens. We only print once a week and often the news that happened is old news. The people of this town have already shared on Facebook and Twitter. I’m not saying that is all bad. In April, we had a major tornado come through town. Not a soul died because the citizens placed information on Facebook. They were able to inform others of the path of the tornado. We had property damage, but not a single death.
I am fortunate I am the owner of the newspaper. I would have a hard time trying to find a job now. I’m qualified, but I haven’t grown up with the technology available today. I am still learning how to use computer programs for various things each day. However, if I had to look for a job tomorrow, I would accent my strengths. I would emphasize the fact I know all aspects of the newspaper industry. I have taken photographs, written editorials, reported, edited, sold advertising space and interviewed politicians and criminals. I may be older than the traditional reporter, but in my intern years, I covered the civil rights movement in Mississippi. My newspaper and I have also won numerous awards for being the “Best Small Weekly In The State of Georgia.”
In my field, knowing first is what gains readers, gets awards and makes a newspaper a success. I keep an active Twitter account and I follow anyone in my town who has an account. 98 percent of the time they may tweet nonsense, but there is going to be one time they are in the middle of a big story or scoop. I have a smart phone so I have access to the Internet always. In addition, I use my desk pc at work, a laptop at home and I have an iPad as well as an eReader. I am subscribed to all small weekly newspapers in my state as well as larger ones such as “The Atlanta Journal and Constitution” and “The New York Times.”
I had a job interview that was a complete disaster when I was in my early 20s. I had just come off a highly successful internship at a small publication in Alabama. I had earned accolades for my coverage of the civil rights movement. Being a brash and cocky young man, I assumed I would be wanted by any publication. I went into a job interview with “The Atlanta Journal” with a horrible attitude. I get embarrassed remembering it. I didn’t come across as confidant I came across as insufferable. Clearly, I did not get the job. My advice to other job seekers is this:
You may be the best qualified for the job, but in my line of work, not only do you need to be confidant, you need to be polite.
I used Career Services over 50 years ago to land my first internship and I still use them today to get interns each summer. Our interns are what keep us going in the hot summer months. I couldn’t operate without them.
The big regret I have about my professional past is the way I came into this town. I was not very respectful to the elderly couple that ran the last paper in town. They were well-known and well-loved, and it took me a very long time to get past the hard feelings I had made with many citizens. I wish I had offered a merger for the two papers and kept the elderly couple as my mentors. I burned a valuable bridge there. The people here may have bought my papers, but they gave me no information on anything for many years because of the way I treated the elderly couple. I found life is very different in a small town.
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