Am I too good or not good enough for newspaper work?

If you’re not in the mood for a bitter, vain rant, you should probably click away now.

This is turning into a banner week for head-shots to my normally death-proof ego. First, a teller at my credit union mis-took an attempted witty comment as a come-on and now visibly shrinks when our eyes meet (girl, you aren’t that cute) and now a certain local newspaper has passed me up for a part-time, 9-month gig in their Travel department, citing my lack of experience.

OK, valid point. I haven’t been doing this for long – just over five years. And people have only been paying me a living wage for three of those five years. And my resume is conspicuously lacking in certain eye-catching words like ‘editor’ and ‘columnist’ and ‘masters degree’ and ‘writing classes’.

Nevertheless, my name has appeared in five wildly popular international travel guidebooks, several glossy magazines, web sites that receive 100 times the daily pages loads as this newspaper and I’m a minor journalism celebrity on Guam. I also speak three foreign languages (Spanish, Romania & Italian) well enough to live, work and play with those folks, I’ve lived in and traveled through dozens of foreign countries, I write a hilarious, almost-award winning travel blog (never mind that I sometimes use it as a forum to curse like a 75-year old comedienne and post cheap insults about hacky foreign media), and I can escape from a straitjacket in under a minute. What the f*ck else do these bitches want?

Having seen the caliber of writer that this particular newspaper chooses to employ and the caliber of writer that this newspaper chooses to dump after decades of admirable work, I suppose it’s foolish of me to act surprised. I’m the first to admit that I’m a little na´ve about print publishing and I’m well aware that cold, clammy newspaper editors are still writing for people born in the 30s, 40s and 50s instead of people born in the 70s, 80s and 90s (which is why they will die an ungraceful death in the next decade), but was I passed over because of experience and talent or because of style and content choices? Pardon my borderline dangerous conceit, but I’m finding it difficult to imagine that there’s really a more engaging and entertaining writer out there with nothing better to do than to apply for a part-time, local rag temp job.

I’m aware that my style is generally too informal for crusty newspapers, but I find it endlessly frustrating that these people seemingly choose to pass over people who may offend readers with the liberal use of the word ‘doo-doo’ and unashamed, enthusiastic discussions about Micronesian islands full of topless women and instead print material that will potentially offend readers with it’s staggering narrow-mindedness and blatant prejudices. I can stop saying ‘boobies’ whenever I want. Can the same be done with your writers that apparently stopped evolving in the early 60s?

I’ve indulgently slammed newspapers for their ridiculous approach to dealing with freelancers, so I would genuinely like to see what it’s like working on the other side (thus the appeal of this particular temp job), but I suppose I should start listening to Buddha’s benevolent hints and just let that form of media go.

It wasn’t a complete blow-off. My rejection email invited me to draw upon my vast experience of travel in 43 different countries on five continents and knowledge of developing tourism trends and resources by pitching stories about day and weekend short-drive trips from the Twin Cities for $0.36 a word, with no compensation for expenses. Natch.

OK, OK, let’s just calm down and see who they hired. Maybe Tim Cahill decided to slum it for a while and I’m truly being passed over by the sheer weight of staggering talent.

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Local media, Rants | 18.06.2008 11:41 | 7 Comments

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